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Mutations of Character

A city as ancient as Delhi, and with the kind of checkered history it has had, it is not surprising for the citizens’ demeanour and mannerism to shift a little. From poetry-loving, sophisticated,  art-connoisseurs (don’t frown – we considered mujra an art-form too!) to being a little brash and showy is pardonable. We may not be debating Ghalib’s supremacy over Mir with as much vigour as we discuss the verses of that Yo Yo guy versus that of Badshah. Zafar’s death may not be an issue of contention as that of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington but we are fine. So while our new avatar may be somewhat disagreeable – we still have a little bit of the old in us. On 27th August a citizens movement ‘Nafrat Ke Khilaaf Dilli Ki Awaaz‘ took off as a part of the ‘Not In My Name’ campaign. Using arts as an expression against hate crimes Delhi will witness at neighbourhood parks, college campuses, metro stations, community centers among other places – a variety of cultural events ranging from dastangoi to poetry, from dances to music recitals for a few days. The multiculturalism of Delhi, one hopes, will be re-ignited and the ghosts of Ghalib and Zafar will find peace (a dervish tells me that these ghosts do not loiter around Lutyens Delhi anymore!).

We are OK – just mutating a little! Our high disposable incomes have seen us frequent the Airports more than we go to ISBT or the Railway Station (our love for Satabdi Express and its free food notwithstanding). Our cars have larger bonnets now, our DTC buses are mostly air-conditioned and we have a Metro service that’s superb and is ever-expanding. Our fabled largehearted disposition is still intact. It’s just another matter that we do not carry it on our sleeve anymore so do not expect us to give someone who arrived before us – a parking slot in the parking area (read roadside pavement, pedestrian walkway). Driving for us is akin to that war game on the phone ‘Boom! Tank’. And even the tongue-tied among the Dilliwalahs (well, there are a few) will display the depth of their repository of expletives when messed up while driving or walking. And we give every visitor to the city a display of what to expect while in the city at the Airport itself. All the person has to do is get out of that swanky IGIA terminal and bingo! The mess, the car-honking, the pushes and shoves that one encounters are actually our way of initiating one to the ways of Delhi. Not just that – we seem to believe that if we stand on the middle of the road our pick-up will arrive early!  And no, we just don’t give a fig to that croaking reprimand from the traffic cop which simply adds to the cacophony. We have become like this only, mind it!

Something in us has snapped. And it appears to be some mutation deep down and this one thing you can’t blame on AAP. May be our love for chaos got us to vote for them wholeheartedly in the first place. Talking of AAP, our man AK has gone all quiet and his more palatable deputy seems to be managing the show. The deputy is more visible and seems to be focusing on some crucial core areas. Though we are still not sure which areas are under the state government, or the multiple municipalities and what all are the central government’s responsibilities towards Dilliwalahs (other than treating them as ‘voters’).  The only warning on the wall being that the mutations may not see us voting as we did the last time over! 

5 thoughts on “Mutations of Character”

  1. Applaudes for describing ‘Dilliwalahs’ to the best of your ability… My favorite piece where you hit them with the Parking slot issue ( ha ha ha) … Well described and very well observations…

  2. The utter chaos of Delhi is perhaps its signpost. It however scares people like me who have been living out of Delhi the last for the last 35 years. Delhi for me is still the roomy roads of CP, the greenery of IIT, Malviya Nagar and RK Puram, the beautiful parks in Chanakya puri. Alas concrete has taken away so much.

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