City Neighbourhood – David Street, Daryaganj
The mystery of a name.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Our fair city is adorned with landmarks bearing names that defy scrutiny.
But you would think that David Street in Old Delhi’s Daryaganj could easily be traced. After all, the name stands out in a part of the city where lanes often are named after a tree or a profession. Or some prominent Hindu or Muslim.
But who was David? Did he live in this very place?
This morning David Street feels so rich in atmospherics: life here has been pursued for centuries. Though many buildings are recent, you do spot old structures here and there. Especially eye-catching is a blue door, a exquisite piece of architecture.
Only a few local merchants are out and about at this early hour. A pavement barber is already shaving a customer, while the gentleman beside him is carefully trimming his own beard. Two women are chatting by a small temple, one is with a pug. The alley is lined with a series of shops selling electrical goods such as AC and fridges. One shuttered store is pasted with a printed paper informing of the shopkeeper’s demise.
Now an elderly gentleman walking down the street confirms that it was indeed named after somebody called David. “He lived on this street, and was a Christian,” he reveals.
“He lived here during my great-great grandfather’s time,” meaning towards the end of the 19th century.
And that’s all he recalls. A woman passerby says that David had a house on a bylane many years ago. The lane is now flanked by modern apartment blocks.
So, David’s story is not entirely lost. But his residence—if he had one—is gone forever. But then who knows for sure.
The romance of place-names