Saturday, July 26, 2008

I Love Delhi

As the first rays of the sun fall on the historic Rajpath and the silhouette of India Gate looms large in front like a royal emissary paying homage to the sun, the pigeons start congregating at the pathways oblivious of the world around them. For these creatures, it doesn’t matter where they are or what they witness, for as long as their hunger is satisfied, those pathways are the perfect abode of the gods. Thus, in this way, the pendulum continues to swing. Welcome to another morning in Delhi.

But then, the same rays fall on each and every rooftop in Delhi. Be it the lofty Qutab Minar or a dingy little slum. The sun treats us all the same way. The morning breeze rejuvenates the soul and once again Delhi gets ready for another bout with the forces that be. I don’t know whether the great monuments in Delhi that have withstood the ravages of time merely mock at our fleeting existence or brood in silence at the ignominy that many of us face every day. But I do know that each of these structures punctuating the length and breadth of Delhi still stand tall with pride and honour basking in the glory of emperors that built them, the artists that adored them and the leaders that immortalized their charm by their words.

No one knows where and when the foundation stone was laid down when Indraprastha was born, and it doesn’t matter either. For the capital of India, standing and thriving among the remains of the nine cities that were built and destroyed many a times, each and every stone has its own tale of joy and sorrow. The parapet of the Red Fort, the holy walls of the Jama Masjid, the royal gardens of the Rashtrapati Bhawan and scores of other such places have, for years, been silent spectators of the drama that has defined some of the most critical moments in the history of India. I wonder whether Edwin Lutyen dreamt New Delhi as just a British residential area or as a perfect fusion ground for the east and the west, but today, New and Old Delhi serve as a perfect melting pot for all breeds of aficionados. For the patrons of art and painting, the Lalit Kala Academy has been the temple they have thronged to all their lives. The National School of Drama has produced some of the finest actors and theatre personalities for decades. For the connoisseurs of the brush, the National Gallery of Modern Art has the same enchantment as the Louvre in Paris has for ancient art lovers. I could go on and on but words won’t suffice.

For the young minds, the city has, for long, provided the perfect platform to construct the edifices of their future. Were it not for institutions like IIT, AIIMS, St. Stephens, Lady Sri Ram, SRCC, Hindu and Hans Raj, the country could never have boasted of some of the finest performers that have done us proud at the national and international level. Amitabh Bachchan, Shahrukh Khan, Shashi Tharoor, Barkha Dutt, Nandan Nilekani and Vinod Khosla are some of the names that are the products of some of these great institutions. The kind of cultural milieu that exists in the festivals of these colleges is unparalleled in the entire subcontinent. Swaying to the beats of some of the finest musicians, rocking to the tunes of some of the most happening singers and giving yourself to the lyrics of the numbers that play on all night – Huh! Who said Delhi sleeps in the night? Not just the special festivals, the energy of Delhiites really reaches its pinnacle at night in the major discotheques and clubs especially during weekends.

But then again, for the not so privileged, each and every day provides a new battle ground for survival. Some might say that outside the glitz and glamour there is a world where the real music is only provided by the mourning of hungry children and the clattering of empty food containers. But then, even for these denizens living in abject poverty, this city is their only abode and the battle their greatest romance. A romance they never want to be a part of, yet can never dare to betray. Where on earth would we find a city where on one hand, the wide roads of central and south Delhi satiate the desire for speed and smoothness, and on the other hand, the packed by lanes of Chandni Chowk only some how provide room to walk. The clanking of the bangles, the chattering of the bystanders and the clamour of the horns all give the impression of a never ending wedding procession in Chandni Chowk. For some, Delhi is the place where the political golf goes on unabated, for others it is just a place where their ambitions and ideas are turned into profitable ventures and for still others, it is just the only life line they can’t let go off for their very survival is confound within the boundaries of this ever expanding metro.

Be it the priests and the paupers, the consumerist and the parsimonious, the businessmen and the artists, the young and the old or the rich and the poor, Delhi is not just a City of Dreams. It is a city of passion. It is a city of life. It is a city to fall in love with. And my love story with Delhi continues.
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