City Style – The Classy Delhiwalla, Barakhamba
Searching for the stylish.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The Delhi Walla saw this man coming out of Barakhamba Metro station, gate no. 6, in Connaught Place, Delhi’s premier commercial district. It was 9 am, the rush hour. At first, I could only see his red turban, the essential headgear of the Sikhs. After getting off the escalators, the much younger crowd got ahead of him. Tapping his spiral-detailed walking stick (mahogany?) on the cemented ground, he slowly emerged into full view.
The man’s white beard was arranged neatly; his body was frail; his posture erect; his eyes shielded by maroon-rimmed spectacles were grey. The greyness of his crisscross printed tie, worn with a double knot, was in harmony with the pale blue of his shirt’s wide point collar. The checkered winter coat had a single breast pocket. The light-grey pleated pant ended at the tip of shiny brown oxfords. No one else was dressed like him.
This man has lived through many decades. Did he spend most of his years in Delhi? Was he in the city during the anti-Sikh riots of 1984? Is he a frequent traveller in the Metro?
The city is in the midst of momentous change. New towers are coming up. Old bookstores are closing, just like it had happened 50 years ago. Habitual customs are re-aligning with liberal sexual mores. Now lives are blogged, thoughts are tweeted. The men of the moment are Osama and Obama. The challenge is to make sense of the new times and still be sane.
This turbaned man was loyal to the traditional codes of life by being formally dressed, even as he rubbed shoulders with fellow commuters wearing jackets and pullovers, jeans and corduroys. He didn’t seem uncomfortable. The two buttons on his coat were casually undone. He looked relaxed. He was a gentleman.
First, the red turban
Better view now
Man of style