Delhi, The City, The Phenomenon, The Diary

Posted on December 7, 2010 in YKA Editorials

By Aditi Kumar:

Delhi, well, is Delhi — the capital of this funny country, which actually coming to think of it, gives it more credit than it deserves. A city of extreme emotions, extreme actions, extreme weathers and extreme decisions.

As a person, from another town (Bhopal), relatively smaller and less exposed to worldliness, Delhi was always this big city, with mean people doing their ‘own thing’, and I always  equated my visits to Delhi with eating, shopping and movie-ing, as most people do.

It was the last place I would’ve wanted to move to, but destiny is quite rigged you see, and I landed here for my graduation, against all odds.

Well, now I was to become a part of this constantly evolving phenomenon of a metro city and comprehend it in its full essence, not to mention along with my grad studies.

Quite a task.

So shunning as many prejudices as I could, most of them delusional, and a product of excessive brain washing by my well wishers, I started afresh with Chapter Delhi.

Part On:. The gentry

What do you expect from a generation (talking about my contemporaries, as they are the ones whom I have interacted with the most) born and brought up in a place where you are bred to be street smart, realistic,and ambitious? Of course all the above mentioned attributes. So this was and still is my greatest apprehension, recognising the right people, this was a first timer for me, considering I was in the same school since Kinder Garten. I was proven wrong, not once, not twice but many times, as I found people I could befriend, rely on and most surprisingly love. But you get lucky sometimes. Delhi has so many interwoven cultural threads from all the North Indian states, but there is a queer homogeneity even in this diversity. And that is what makes the behavioural pattern in this city the most unpredictable. You can be cheated and helped in the most unexpected ways, the only trick is to take that risk. Without doubt ostentation runs in the city’s blood and illudes you, and I would make no efforts to either defend or offend it, rather take it as given and learn to tolerate it. If you survive with the people in Delhi, you can survive anywhere in the world. Its a challenge, which allures young blood.

Part two: The city

The grandiose of living in the 21st century. You name a thing and you get it, not to mention the luxuries that a teenager can afford and enjoy. The Metro, the malls, the facilities. But after a point of time, convenience just becomes a habit and you stop valuing it. And thus you get to the less pleasant parts.

Delhi is easily more on the headlines for its notoriety, of course apart from the fact that it is the political capital of the country.

The scars of crimes and mishaps on this city are too many to count.

The latest one that comes to my mind without thinking is the 2010 Common Wealth Games, which was never able come out of the turmoil absolutely. The dirty bureaucratic secrets, the inefficiencies, the inabilities, all came under the scanners and put the city in a bad spot light.

Safety, whether for women or in general, is a very pertinent issue here, which is the main reason why my parents live in constant fear and why I do not have many liberties that I would otherwise wish to have, but this cost is very less as compared what price people —  specially women have paid at the behest of this unsafety.

Indiscriminate crimes against women, ranging from eve teasing to rapes to murders, everywhere from buses to metros to restaurants. Decency and chivalry are words of the past in this city.

“Rakesh Gupta was allegedly beaten up by three brothers and their mother and then stabbed to death. According to his son, the brothers used to tease his sister while in an inebriated state and hurl abuses at the family. This led to frequent altercations between the two families.”

“A woman is raped in the Indian capital every 24 hours and, in an overwhelming majority of cases registered by police in the last six months, the rapists were known to the victims.”

Needless to say, the city is the women molestation capital too. Rape is one extreme, there are the everyday cat calls, obscenity in gestures that the females have to handle, which makes it so difficult to believe that we live in a sexually egalitarian society. The police have made efforts in the form of anti-obscene call helpline, deployment of personnel near educational institutions and more. But the measures are not and cannot be pervasive of course. We need a much greater change, a change in psychology of the society, riddance from the psychopathy.

Now, the universal set of crimes — well, it shouldn’t be a surprise that we are at the top in that list too, and have been for five years in a row according to The National Crime Bureau’s latest report. And the disturbing fact is the increasing number of young people forming a part of this cult. It is as if violence is the answer, the solution to every problem. It seems as if it doesn’t matter who is affected, at least the anger and frustration is manifested in some form.

Delhi is the capital and it seems like one in many ways; but equally so, does not seem like one in many ways. There is such an obvious and stark difference between North and South Delhi, they seem like two different states, there are two different Delhi Times for them, for God’s sake!

The deeper meaning here is a growing rich poor divide within the city. The old and charming Delhi has a vibe of its own, but we cannot keep ignoring the fact that it is stuck in time, and needs to be revived for its own good. The mishaps of buildings collapsing and fire accidents in places like Chawri Bazaar and Chandni Chowk call for immediate action. The narrow streets, with buildings crowding into each other, a web of electric wires looming all over, destruction is just one domino effect away.

And even residential construction has been plagued by these recent collapse accidents.

‘Collapsing of a building and bridges, caving of roads are not new to India’s capital and this collapse has deeply shaken the trust of the Delhiites on the entire construction process. The recent building collapse in Laxmi Nagar has already taken the toll to 51 is just another addition to the list of horrendous incidents surfacing at frequent intervals’.

I do not want to sound very critical or cynical and neither am I, but it doesn’t change the truth keeping in mind the fact that we are competing here with International capitals like Tokyo, an architectural paradise, London, New York and the likes of it. We think big, we make it big.

Delhi is charming in its own ways with its food, men and women, free spirited attitude, the weekend getaways, a delight for shopaholics, the famous winters, and of course the conundrum of a pulsating city life.

After almost two years of Delhi doses, I have learnt to love the city for what it is, and you critique something because you want it to get better and you love it. Everytime I come back from my hometown after a long gap, my face lights up with a smile, it’s like Delhi-tropism. Earlier the term Dilli wali was derogatory for me, now it defines me, in my own way.

I couldn’t have asked for a better way to learn to survive in this world.

Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference,the road not taken. — Robert Frost

The writer is the Assignments Editor at Youth Ki Awaaz.