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Dilwalon Ki Dilli: A Tale of One Crazy City

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By Charul Prabhakar:

May God bless Mr. E. Sreedharan and his future generations too. Delhi owes him so much for providing its people with the metro- that revolutionized commuting in the capital. It is quite a well-known fact that one of the biggest joys a middle-class Delhiite can experience is when he/she manages to acquire a seat in the Metro. Their faces glow with relief and the smiles never seem to fade. I know this well, because I am one of those people.

Delhi makes me fall more in love with it with every passing day and the charm only strengthens at night. The city lights leave us mesmerized, even while we are stuck in traffic and the local eunuchs bug us for money. Yes eunuchs along with a couple of beggars- they seem to adorn every traffic signal. Sometimes, they give us an impression as if it is their right to beg. But it really is a kind of a strategy. First they will make humble requests, then they will go on to bless you and if that does not work, they will proceed to shove a malnourished baby into your face in order to extract sympathy and currency.

Bizarre, isn’t it? Not to the Dilliwallahs!  That is what Delhi is all about. It boasts of some very posh colonies, people of high stature and expensive cars, yet the sabziwallahs can be heard shouting “aalu lo, matar lo” and housewives haggling over the prices in their horrendous nightgowns, demanding the vendor to give free dhaniya (coriander) even if they bought only five lemons. We hang out at expensive malls while wearing branded outfits, listening to Bob Marley, binging on the ‘Sub of the day’ and still have our taste buds tingling for golgappe and chaat. Yes everyone, it is golgappe and we hate it when it is called paanipuri.

Delhiites are a weird bunch and it actually is an understatement. We like to think of ourselves as a broad-minded and an unorthodox lot. But we do get into a dilemma when our highly-educated and ambitious daughter, who absolutely loves her job, is seen as a match for an NRI second cousin’s second cousin at the tender age of twenty-three. We cannot decide whether we should marry her off for a good life in Kanedda (That’s how most of us like to pronounce ‘Canada’) or succumb to her stubbornness to prosper? And then we boast of intellectual freedom.

Our son is going to become an engineer. Civil or mechanical, that’s his choice. We are putting no pressure there, you see. But engineering it is. Yes, engineering.

Anything else? No alternatives?

Of course not, it is the best course for him. He writes well, yes. But he wants to be an engineer and make his dad proud. Don’t you, son? Obviously he does. Enough now, Bunty. Go and study

Delhi is a city where the rags and riches have an equal share. The rich follow the ‘have it-flaunt-it‘ policy and the poor have a ‘don’t-have-it-yet-flaunt-it’ policy. You see, the slums are not exactly treated as something to be hidden or removed or replaced by a proper residential area for the dwellers. It is treated like the great Indian souvenir, at least by the government. They are for the eyes of the foreigners so that they can feel bad for them and give speeches highlighting their miseries. And why do we not care? Because we are conveniently indifferent to their existence.

The rich, however, are snug and comfortable in their Sainik Farms, Defence Colony, Greater Kailash and New Friends Colony bungalows. They enjoy the hyped Delhi nightlife, all that shopping and basically every luxury that the city has to offer. It is as easy to find a convertible Ferrari in the South as finding a slum in the East.

They say, it is a jungle out there and Delhi is one of the scariest. But none of us can do without the great Delhi life. We are one crazy bunch of people. We experience everything that life has to offer. The city is our baby and the essence resides in our blood.

You must be to comment.
  1. Seepiya

    Totally agree with you. For us Delhiites, there is no place better than Delhi. 🙂

    1. Charul Prabhakar

      Hear, hear! 🙂

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        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

        Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

        The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

        Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

        Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

        With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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        A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

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        A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

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        A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

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        Find out more about her campaign here.

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        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

        A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

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        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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