City Style – The Classy Delhiwalla, Nizamuddin Basti
Searching for the stylish.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The Delhi Walla saw this man on Mirza Ghalib street in Nizamuddin Basti, a 14th century village famous for the shrine of sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya. The man was wearing a black karakul cap, black sherwani, white pajama, mustard green socks and brown leather shoes. His glasses were rectangular, his hair was long and his beard was wiry. There was no one dressed like him.
The man’s sherwani, with its big black round buttons, reached almost to his shoes. The breast pocket had two pens. A hint of white flashed from behind the sherwani’s collar; must be the kurta underneath.
It was a warm humid night and the man would have been better off without the long coat. Perhaps he was too principled, and so wouldn’t compromise his formal attire for the sake of shifty seasons. His stiff grace was unaffected by the clutter on the stinking street: food stalls, a cooking gas cylinder, and a manhole. His aristocratic fussiness suggested that the winds of change would never be able to bend him in its wake.
He was holding a sheaf of papers. Was he a poet and were they the poems he had newly composed? Could it be possible that he was coming from the nearby tomb of Mirza Ghalib, the 19th century Urdu poet after whom the street is named?
Amid pavement cooks, goats and beggars, the man looked out of place. Did he belong to a time when the world was more ceremonial, restrained and refined? If yes, then that era had shrunk to the edges of his sherwani, making him the last of a lost time.
Grace amid the clutter
Won’t bend with the wind
Dreams of a poet
A principled man