Finding your niche in the world is one of the greatest things that can happen to you, especially if you are a person uprooted from your birthplace. I lived in my birthplace [my village]only in the first fifteen years of my life. But I was happy to find some kind of a niche in my present workplace where I have continued to live more happily than in other places for over ten years. Delhi is the place.
I’m happy to know that my favourite city is all poised to be declared as a World Heritage City. Three years ago Sheila Dikshit’s government initiated the process to get Delhi declared as a World Heritage City. Now her government has launched an active campaign to make Delhi the 221st World Heritage City in the world.
Delhi has all the infrastructure required for the status. Let me quote The Hindu editorial [Oct 21, 2011]:
Delhi is one of the few metropolitan cities with a high concentration of heritage structures: 155 national monuments and another 1,000 culturally important places. Various historical periods have left their imprint and turned the city into an extraordinary mosaic. Shahjahanabad is a grand example of 17th century Mughal urban planning; Mehrauli, built around the 12th century Qutub Minar, is the oldest urban settlement in the city; and New Delhi or Lutyen’s Delhi is an impressive expression of 20th century garden city principles.
Delhi has never ceased to fascinate me though I have visited most of its tourist attractions many times including those which would escape the attention of most tourists and tour agents. For me, Delhi is like Shakespeare’s Cleopatra: “Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale / Her infinite variety: Other women / Cloy th’ appetites they feed; but she makes hungry / Where most she satisfies. For vilest things / Become themselves in her; that the holy priests / Bless her, when she is riggish.”
There’s always something new I find about Delhi every time I step out of my cosy workplace. It may be a new flyover somewhere along an otherwise familiar route; maybe a new Metro rail station; maybe a new migrant family that has taken shelter under a tree you never noticed earlier.
One of the best things I love about Delhi is its overt hypocrisy. You do what you want, let me do what I want, as long as we don’t disturb each other even if we are breaking all the rules. There’s a lot of tolerance among Delhiites just because of that profound hypocrisy. This hypocrisy is shorn of all self-righteousness that I witnessed everywhere else. In Delhi, I’ve found people who preach non-vegetarianism from high pulpits but order non-vegetarian food to be delivered at home clandestinely. Delhi’s hypocrisy is as hilarious as its politics can be heart-wrenching.
Of course, there’s much that Delhi can improve upon. I guess that’s to be expected from the most populous city of India (according to a report in today’s Times of India which rightly includes the satellite cities like Gurgaon and Faridabad as part of Delhi.)