Delhi is in everyone’s love and hate books. A home to almost 19 million people, our awkwardly crowded and enigmatic national capital never sleeps. Delhi is extreme and its streets have been soaking all the extremity only to balance the mélange of highs & lows. And what makes the city throb is, of course, the Dilliwalahs! Even if they are or not from the city. In an attempt to tap into this minefield of diversity, Newsd speaks to various individuals from various strata of the society in order to get a glimpse into their relationship with this wonderful city.
Rakhi Bose, who works with a broadcasting organisation, is an admirer of the city who thinks that Delhi is home in a peculiar kind of way. “It isn’t perfect, far from it. But the imperfections call out to you at night when the city tries to feign some sleep” she says. Besides journalism, Bose also feels for flowers and believes in compulsively capturing their beauty even in between auto-rides.
When did Delhi happen to you?
I have always felt that something akin to an umbilical cord appends me to Delhi, maybe since I was born here but never really got to call it home. In a way, I am both from and not from Delhi. This dichotomy really attracts me to this city, which itself holds so many such dichotomies and incongruous truths, half-truths and untruths.
Well, mostly my father’s job. He has been in sales all his life and has had to move around a lot, (along with my mother and me) though his office and family were both headquartered in New Delhi. Until the age of 16, I spent all Durga Pujas in Delhi. In fact, I have passed my Senior Secondary examinations from a Delhi school. After spending the next seven years at home in Kolkata, it was time to fly out of the nest and it had to be to Delhi.
What made you come back?
It’s been a series of comings and goings actually. I was born in South Delhi, to a Bengali family living at the time in CR Park. However, I never really came to know Delhi the way I do (or at least have begun to) now in my twenties. It may have something to do with the fact that I have not really spent all these interim years in this city, though I’ve kept coming back every now and again, sometimes to stay and sometimes in passing.
How did the city treat you in your melancholia?
Delhi has always been an important spot. As an adult, it was Delhi that gave my career its first break. It has a natural vigour that is inimitable and extremely disapproving of the inactive and the useless. It shoves one to pursue their ‘dreams’ in life by turning fulfilment into a race. Is that a good thing? Well as along as it gets one moving, I suppose. In this pursuit of vertical (always vertical) movement, I have lost a lot of things I had grown to love as mine in the last two years in this city. But then that’s how it is here. You learn to let go of what is no longer needed. Delhi can be a harsh but effective teacher of reality that way. It does not take kindly to things that have lived out their purpose. Or people. Or governments. Or ideals.
Delhi teaches one that everything, no matter how majestic once, is doomed to expandability and can be discarded the second a newer model appears, offering better benefits. Whether it is a municipal board, a cell phone model or a Mughal courtesan’s palace from yore which is now an electronics market selling unromantic wires and mechanic parts, there is no room here for one, young or old, unless they serve a purpose. On some balmy October nights, one may catch a glimpse of Begum Samru’s ghost, tinkering around the broken bannisters of her erstwhile Mahal, a little disappointed at having lost her pinnacle of glory in the section of Mughal courtesans that time had once so generously assigned to her. Though it could have been due to the profuse stench of rotting plant produce that rises from the vegetable market that girdles the building now like aggressive moss.
What is the most intriguing thing about the city?
Since I have been an intermittent visitor to and admirer of Delhi (I would go as far as to say that, I have, for the larger part of my life so far, been a Delhi apologist), I have had the luxury to observe it intimately as well as from an academic distance. In glimpses, I saw the city changing. Adapting to the new. I saw it mute from an established and admittedly chaotic but congruent mosaic of colours toward a polarised, hardening state where assent and dissent became equally dangerous. But then Delhi has been no stranger to belligerence as history, both told and untold, stands witness. Many tides of many colours have claimed the city’s ramparts time and again, resulting over the years in a niche of residual sentiment that only some in the city (like those who are both within and without it and of course poets) can tap into. Delhi resists, bit by bit, in its own imprudent and heckles manner. In the crisscrossing wires crowding narrow lanes in Old Delhi, in the sweeter than manna Chashni of the jalebi, in the stoic women who continue to daub their lips red in the face of literal death, in the spools of green that enshrine the tips of ancient tributes to dead rulers, in the memories of immigrant carpet weavers and silver-haired silversmiths, jaded by sights of poetry, riots, political corruptions and ever-changing newspaper headlines.
You can follow Rakhi Bose on Instagram: @theotherbose
The UnDelhiwalah is an exclusive series wherein Newsd delves into the relationship of the citizenry thriving and surviving in this cosmopolitan city.