Dilli ki kahaani
Edited to add:- Didn’t realize this but anyone who is familiar with Delhi and has spent even a little time here would be able to identify more with this post:)
This one’s for a friend:) and for a city that’s my home for now:)
A city that cannot be defined. A city that makes you curse and smile in equal measure:)
A city that’s a part of me now.
I have never felt like an outsider here. The crowds fascinate me.
The air here seems different.
A lot has been said about Delhi. That its good, its bad and sometimes ..in fact most of the times that its downright ugly.
It is a city of extremes but then , so are most cities are they not?
Sheila Dixit says she felt claustrophobic after watching Dilli 6. ”arre baba itne saare log! itni bheed!”
Clearly, her idea of Dilli is Delhi and the wide open boulevards and the lush greenery of Lutyen’s Delhi.
But Dilli is not just THIS or THAT. Its many things in between.
Its a city with spiritual leanings too.
Dilli (Delhi ) is also known as ‘baees khwajaaon ki chaukhat’, the threshhold of 22 sufis.
Though the actual number of sufi shrines in Delhi is much ,much more.
Delhi thus became the centre of Islamic studies and mysticism by end of the 13th century. Both historians and citizens began to refer to Delhi as Hazrate-e-Dilli, Dilli Sharif, Dar-ul-Auliya, Baghdad-e-Hind and Khurd-e-Mecca or the little Mecca.
Prayers to bless the city and its people are found in the prayer books of these Sufis.
Amir Khusrau wrote: Delhi, the refuge of faith and equity/ Delhi is the garden of paradise/ May its prosperity be long lived/ If Mecca happens to learn about this garden/ It may circumambulate around Hindustan.
The landscape of Delhi is dotted with sultans’ tombs but no one lights even a candle in their memory. At the Sufi shrines, lamps are lit, holy scriptures are recited, poor are fed and prayers of a thousand pilgrims answered. During the political upheavals, people of Delhi were constantly reassured by the Sufis at the khanqahs to which they had constant access. [LINK]
I love Rabbi Shergill’s ode to Dilli too.
jaagegi raat bhar
aur bhaagegi saath par
belagaam khayaalon ko
puchhegi yeh sawaal aur maangegi
yeh hisaab na sunegi
tere jawaabon ko
yahaan hai ek nadi
aur wahaan ek laal kila
par kahaan hain iss shehar ka falsafa….
Delhi has never been the city of any one group, religion or community.
It has been plundered countless times and yet manages to rise again and again miraculously.
It is a city that has seen many empires rise and fall…
A city that is dotted with historical ruins at every corner..
According to popular tradition, the city has changed its locality a total of seven times although some authorities who take smaller towns and strongholds into account claim Delhi has changed its site as many as fifteen times.
Dilli is a lot of things to a lot of people.
For some it is Delhi University and bunking classes
For others it is JNU and khadi kurtas and a politics that tilts err slightly(?) to the left..
For some it is just Stephen’s and Hindu’s …
Its also South Campus and North campus…
And the old charming locality of Jamia Nagar…..
For some it is Kinaari bazaar ,Daribaa Kalaan and Chandni Chowk…
For yet others it is South Extension and Jor bagh..
And for some it is only Sarojini Nagar and Lajpat Nagar…
And what about the chaat, dahi bhalle (dahi vadas) and the samosas?
And the gol gappas and the lassi and dosas? momos..
The sheer variety of food is hard to find anywhere else…
Name it and you shall have it..
Dilli is where Punjabis go wild dancing to crazy beats in an even crazier manner.
Dilli is also the city where the the very same people stop you and ask you…no, literally coax you lovingly to drink Sharbat on a hot day in Summer.
Dilli is Malay Mandir and Chattarpur Mandir and the Birla temple..
Dilli is also the Gurudwara in Chandni Chowk and another called Bangla Sahib and so many more that it will take more than a post to write about them…
Its also a beautiful masjid..the sight of which leaves you gaping…
Its the galis of Ballimaran and the narrow lane that leads to a dargah that is revered by all irrespective of faith…
Dilli is an astonishing community from Kerala and Tamil Nadu that thrives …and so vibrantly too..
Dilli is also Tibetan markets galore and a community banished from its own home that has made India and Delhi its second home…
Dilli is also of those who come from Bihar and U.P….. the ones who have left their home states in pursuit of dreams unfulfilled.
Dilli is also the Sunday Book Bazaar, one that is bang in the middle of some of the most astonishing historical ruins.
Dilli is also about a Punjabi community that is so vibrant,the one that carries this city in its heart..the one that lead to the phrase,”Dilli dilwalon ki”.
Dilli is also where India comes to protest..against atrocities,injustices and to make demands…all at Jantar Mantar…
India sits at Jantar Mantar on hot summer afternoons and freezing winter mornings…
She sits as one among the many who come to make themselves heard…
Dilli is also this…in Dinkar’s words…
‘‘मैं भारत के रेशमी नगर में रहता हूँ।
जनता तो चट्टानों का बोझ सहा करती
मैं चाँदनियों का बोझ किसी विध सहता हूँ।
गन्दगी, गरीबी, मैलेपन को दूर रखो
शुद्धोदन के पहरेवाले चिल्लाते हैं,
है कपिलवस्तु पर फूलों का श्रृंगार पड़ा
रथ-सामरूढ़ सिद्धार्थ घूमने जाते हैं।
रेशमी कलम से भाग्य-लेख लिखने वालों
तुम भी अभाव से कभी ग्रस्त हो रोये हो ?
बीमार किसी बच्चे की दवा जुटाने में
तुम भी क्या घर पर पेट बाँधकर सोये हो ?”
(One only wishes our netas would read Dinkar once more)
I know that this too is Delhi. A city of contrasts. The one where palatial bungalows exist side by side with slums.
The same slums whose residents helped make those bungalows…
Dilli is also the rude policemen and traffic that stops for hours for anyone who is a ‘V.I.P ‘…
Dilli is politics and power…
Dilli is slums and madhyam varg…
Dilli is also the nouveau riche and the wannabes..
Dilli is Shahadara and Seelampur and Jor Bagh and Defence Colony..
It is also Janakpuri, Punjabi Bagh and Vasant vihar…
Dilli is where many worlds collide in the ‘Metro’
Dilli is a city of extremes…
Its the city where tempers are short and adjectives are plenty.
Dilli is also where if someone scratches a car,rest assured you are in for full time drama.
Adjectives fly left ,right and centre,fists too…..
I know ..this too is Dilli…
And I accept it.
But Dilli is not just this. It’s much more.Just like so many other cities. And yet not like them . For, Dilli is unique.
For those who can only see the above and not much more I feel regret.
Regret for all that they won’t see, can’t see.
But most of all …infact the very reason why I love Delhi is …because no one can claim this city ..no one can even try…
This city has her arms open for everyone…
Whatever your beliefs, your faith….you will be welcomed here…
Dilli can never be about insiders vs outsiders…
Dilli can never be about the question ,”Whose city is it?”
and the answer,”It is mine”
For, that can never be.
Who can claim this city ?
A city that does not even know its own history in its entirety?
And this is precisely why I love Delhi..
Go ahead try to claim its yours..I can make the same claim and both of us will be right:)
And that my friends is the beauty of Delhi..
Never will I feel like an ‘Outsider’ here…
“Delhi, the sages say, has a divided soul. It is a city of incredible contrasts combining the ancient and the modern, Old and New Delhi each reflecting the images of the past and the reality of the present”-Anonymous
And here is a beautiful ode to Delhi , way above and beyond this one in every respect.
Please do read it.And then try telling me if your heart didn’t whisper for just a moment about coming here. To Dilli:)
“Ab kaun jaye Zauk Dilli ki galliyan chhod kar” , said the poet Zauk… and I agree…..
I know I had promised long back that the next post about Delhi would be warts and all.
That post was supposed to have included many negatives. Many shortcomings.
But for now this post simply is.
For a friend who is missing Delhi. The one who fretted and worried so much before going . The one who kept asking questions like Will That city have such book markets ? with a woebegone face 😀
The one who said..arre yaar! atleast say that I wont miss Delhi if only to console me😀
A post for a beautiful soul, a dear friend Poonam🙂
Remember Poonam? That day in the book market?:)
And then that day of fulltime gossip in Saravanaa Bhavan?:D
Hogging away to glory? 😉 and gossiping like there was no tomorrow ?:D
And also quite a few *ahem* (okay a LOT) of gossip on the phone?:D
And a gift where she wrote..
To dearest Abhi,
For sharing my love for books and my city Delhi
Thank you Poonam..because you see I have to say the same .
Thank YOU too for sharing my city and my love for books 🙂
And have you been able to take err I mean read any books? at the place of your friends?:D
(I SO hope they dont read this post ) or else all the chori reading plans will go down the drain
(((((((((((hugs)))))))))))))) dear friend 🙂
Missing you 🙂
Metro pic courtesy Freestyler