(More pictures from Delhi at surendra.smugmug.com)
I lived in Delhi for over 15 years, I have been away for over 21 years. Delhi to me defies definition. Like Rome, Delhi has history, Like New York – a settlement of nationalities, Delhi is a mini India. Yet, New York has a pulse, Mumbai has a vibe, Calcuttans love Kolkata- Delhi and a Delhiite defies definition. As someone mentioned Delhi belongs to all yet no one belongs to Delhi.
Delhi is about power, raw power, proxy power, palace power, palace intrigues and anyone is just three degrees of freedom to someone who know someone who wields some power.
Delhi has been a power center for centuries. Qutab-ud-din Aibak razed some 27 Jain and Hindu temples to construct his tower of glory the imposing Qutab Minar in 1193 AD., leaving it to his successors to complete this monument. Dynasties have always wielded real power in Delhi (to this date). Qutab ud-din Aibak’s son in law Iltutmish took power after Qutab leaving the throne to his daughter Raziya when in a palace coup Rukumuddin Firuz, Raziya’s brother was installed King. Firuz being incompetent his mother Shah Turkhan became the proxy ruler of Delhi. Things have not changed much have they?
Humayun took over the Mughal Empire after his father’s death. Power, though kept him literally intoxicated and opium and wine were his undoing. Not surprisingly palace intrigues with nobles planning and plotting kept him on his toes – most of the time in exile.
Yet, there is one place, one place in Delhi that stirs some real emotion- Amar Jawan Jyoti and India Gate. To me that is India, though so not Delhi:
True, Delhi is a mini India with people from all corners of the country and all religions. That by itself brings all together in their day to day existence. Delhi while still a cultural ghetto does have elements of inclusion. Nothing exemplifies this than the magnificent Bahaai Lotus Temple – one of the most inclusive monument that accommodates people from any faith to enjoy that moment with their chosen one.
This is what I believe Khushwant Singh once stated about Delhi:
Humpty Dumpty, hocus pocus, hurly burly
If there is a paradise on earth, it is Delhi
Full of people, overflowing
Markets onto the road going
Full of fumes, full of gases
Full of ultra modern asses
Full of shining, made-up faces
Full of heart and cancer cases
Car and truck and motorcycle
Full of vehicle on the vehicle
Full of jolting, full of stoking
Full of lanes and bylanes choking
Full of housing haywire going
Full of sewage into Jamuna flowing
Full of callous indifference breeding
Full of pastures fast receding
Full of power, and still power crisis
Full of smoothly rising prices
Full of girth and grime and mirth
Our Delhi is a paradise on earth.
……..and every time I come to Delhi I see a renewal, a Delhi that I can barely recognize, change both good and bad, and the only things that tie me back to the Delhi are the relics of the past. This time I had just one day to wander around Delhi, more when I get more time.
For those from Delhi – your views on Delhi?
More pictures at surendra.smugmug.com