Viewpoint – Delhi is a Bitch
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How the city lost its virginity.
[The Delhi Walla received this opinion piece as a comment by an anonymous reader; picture by Mayank Austen Soofi]
What’s happening to Delhi is only natural. When migrants start to outnumber the locals, the character and fabric of the dwelling is bound to be stressed and sometimes torn.
I’ve seen huge changes in the city over the years. As a third grader I used to stand on the Ring Road at Nizamuddin West (next to IS Goel Bus Co.) with my brother and to while away the wait for the school bus, we used to count cars on either side of the road. It was never a problem as the hour was still early, and Delhi then had only a few cars.
Nizamuddin West had a nice middle-class feel to it, which I don’t think is the case anymore. No matter how many bloggers bandy it about as that.
Those days the locality was fairly cosmopolitan – the Junejas, Maliks, Talwars and Khans lived in total harmony.
The ‘L’ park was the venue of several local gatherings organised by the youth in the locality. The park opposite ‘G’ block, next to the nullah, was like a summer haven with the Gulmohars in full bloom.
The Junejas had a ping-pong table placed in their verandah. Anyone looking for a few knocks could go there and play.
The first real change was a spate of crimes: the Sanjay and Geeta Chopra killings committed by the dreaded Ranga and Billa in 1978 followed by the gruesome discovery of Gautam Jaisinghani’s body on the outskirts of the city.
Jaisinghani was this cool college-going dude who lived across the street from my house in Nizamuddin West. His mother was an elegant lady who liked to wear rouge. I saw Mrs Jaisinghani’s cheeks lose colour the day her son’s body was discovered.
The incident continues to remain one of the few unsolved murder cases in the archives of Delhi police and an indelible etch on my childhood memory.
Then came the intolerance and my own personal tragedies. By the time I managed to look society in the eye, the city had blinked.
The local bicycle lender – a Sardar called Jitta – was not the only one who drank in public. It was hip to talk about money. The Jones’ had climbed up the financial ladder and I moved to a boarding school.
But on visits back home, I would made it a point to visit my neighbourhood in Nizamuddin West. Things had started changing there. The ping-pong table in the Juneja household was not to be seen. Prakash – the local grocer – was no longer as friendly. The Sachdeva store, run by two kurta pajama clad brothers, was divided into two. One was called Balwant, the other I did not care to notice.
In retrospect, I believe that was when Delhi lost its virginity, making way for the throngs of people that impregnated it with other ideas and desires.
As the seat of power for centuries, Delhi is a bitch, accommodating only those who are willing to pay the price she demands. Like a graceful nautch girl, she has – and history is witness – turned away those who failed to meet her demands.
Delhi enslaves her most ardent suitors and possesses them – like me – with hopes of that elusive one more chance.