My City, Great City

 

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. 

Cool guest just outside my residence in Delhi

 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 hypocrisyYou 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.)

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About matheikal

My more regular blog can be accessed at www.matheikal.blogspot.com
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4 Responses to My City, Great City

  1. Raghuram Ekambaram says:

    But Delhi has also been intensely molly-coddled … it is a city that wears, along with it hypocrisy, its arrogance AND stupdity on it sleeves. (Of course, being the center of power, all the three charcteristics are endemic).

    In fact, in my opinion, Mumbai is far better/worse in the attitude of “I don’t care about you!” and “Likewise!”

    I am surprised you are taken in by this “Heritage” nonsense. There are enough “old cities” to satke this “Heritage” claim and these are not necessarily the current power centres. Say Kanchipuram. It has an heritage dating at least 1,200 years. I am sure you can reel of hundreds of such places across this country. Let us face it – we are an “old” conutry, yet new. But, the new cannot be allowed to define the “Old”. This is what happens with all these status-stamping.

    Raghuram Ekambaram

    • matheikal says:

      Raghuram, out of the many places where i lived I found Delhi more amusing than the rest. It could be because I reached here with the maturity that the other places managed to create in me [though I still consider myself immature the way Bernard Shaw would consider any person with a touch of Romanticism in him/her].

      Heritage status is a matter of propaganda. I underscored it by mentioning Sheila didi’s efforts that span a period of three years. I guess, all other politicians are welcome to highlight the places in their own jurisdiction the way Sheila is doing. Don’t you think Mayawati’s Rs685 crore park is better than all the Rath Yatras of Advani put together?

  2. dawnanddew says:

    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.”
    Oh… why have you forgot veritable slums and combinations of apartments and juggis lying by the posh colonies? They are like Cleopatra’s entrails, sir! Sorry for bringing about such an abrupt conclusion to your romantic and aesthetic love for the city. But don’t you agree with me?
    But I’m happy that you have mentioned the fact which is veiled by the beauty of the city – the fact about its audacious hypocrisy. Fine, may I compare it to the lower part of the entrails of Cleopatra?

    • matheikal says:

      Dawn, I had not forgotten the evil underbelly of Delhi. It’s just that Delhi proved to be much better for me compared to the other places (particularly the last one where I spent 15 long years like in a jail). Moreover, the Delhi govt is doing something at least – better than many other govts – with regard to that dark underbelly. For example, the slum of Seemapuri is a far better place today than what it was a decade ago. I think, Delhi has the will to do something good in spite of all the hypocrisy that underscores everything it does!

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