Saturday, September 11, 2010

Delhi- History Beckons

I often wonder whether Delhi can be called a city with plenty of
muscles. Politicians may have a fair share of it but there must
be other reasons also. As we all know, Lutiyens’ Delhi coupled
with the old Delhi is a city of anyone and everyone since its early
days.

The rocky terrain, the extreme weather- terribly cold in winter
and blistering heat in summer- the continuous influx of people
migrating to this historical city bordering on the ghost of Nader
Shah and looting of peacock throne and the air of sultan perhaps
have given the city a stern, no-nonsense outlook and the people
a rough edge bordering on arrogance. You have a feeling
that ‘they are not for me nor do I for them’.

During my stay at Delhi over a decade (in the nineties), I always
felt that another Delhi was residing side by side which offered
more than the one we perceived as city of Delhi. The footprints
of history embedded in this city. Old Delhiites always reminded
me’ There is always a soft and compassionate mind string
beneath the raw tone and tenor of the exterior of the city folks

that serves like a soul’s answer to the locked doors.

Delhi ridge which is an offshoot of great Aravalli range covers a
distance of about 35 kilometers and provides the green belt of
this hustling city and quartzite rocks resembles the strong heart
of the Delhiite.

The stroll at the Buddha Jayanti Park or listening to the morning
raga at the concert in Nehru Park can make your stay at Delhi
unforgettable. Once you adjust to the tune of Delhi, you feel
unknown sources in your creative mind unblocked and the
words takes shape of poetry or song or any literary piece.

I must confess Delhi is a great place of food lovers. One good
friend of mine once remarked that Delhi’s history lies buried
not in its museums or architecture but in its food. Not to talk
about Paranthe Wali Gali or Mughlai and Tandoori dishes, I still
remember the taste of Korma, kebabs’ and Biriyani of Karim,
Chaat, Chole-bature and Aloo-tikki in roadside stalls, hot momo
and spicy soup in a frozen night at Delhi hut (not strictly Delhi
cuisine) or icy cold Sharbat in hot summer at Bengali Market
andTarka Roti in the Dhaba of Safdarjang Enclave

Compared to this, the culinary delight of fish and chips at
Machaan, Tandoori stuffs at Kandahar or Chinese food at
Bon Thai and Barcos pale into insignificance. We of course
enjoyed delicious Bengali food while hopping puja pandals
from Karolbagh to Sarojininagar to Munirka to Chittaranjan park
culminating in Mayur Vihar in those days.

Watching colourful Republic day parade or Beating Retreat in

winter or the blush of the flowers in Moghul Garden or Rose
garden may be the highpoint during my stay at Delhi but even
today, you can feel the resonance of history and freeze with a
sense of gratitude in the shadowy path along the various tombs,
Red Fort and the walled city pavements or in the vicinity of
Qutab Minar. As if,

these shadows shall protect me
as you stroll on by
trying to find something
you lost along your life's path

The city still breaths history notwithstanding sprawling
bungalows, posh hotels, upmarket malls and swanky
restaurants.

Whenever I visit Delhi now, I make it a point to visit Lodhi
Garden, walk around in slow pace, feel the surroundings and
sink into the history slowly till my time run out. The city still
carries on the motto ‘When the student is ready, the teacher
arrives.’
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