When I read the writings of Mirza Galib, Mir Taki Mir and Bahadur Shah Zafar about their beloved city, I never really understood what they meant in their unforgettable Urdu passages.
Mirza Galib is known for what he said:
I roz apni rooh se poocha… ke dilli kya hai
Toh yun jawab me keh gaye Yeh duniya but jism hai aur diili uski jaan
And I was wondering if that could be true. But I was an optimist. And so I believed in Galiba. With romantic ideas in my head and dreams in my eyes, like thousands of others, I came to the city in 1989. It was only a matter of time before the long university occupations and rejections made my beliefs and beliefs disappear. I’ve been trying to understand how this cold and ruthless city of Jaan can be, Galib says.
But I survived, going to college at 10:00 was a miracle! I didn’t know then that it was the beginning of a long journey with the city.
I don’t know exactly when it happened, but soon the city started warming up for me and me. As a history student at the University of Delhi he had his own charm when he studied the history of the Great Moguls with their magnificent monuments and relics. Looks like we were being transported at the time. The positive energy, infectious and irresistible, is so unique to the air of Delhi that its durability has been preserved for centuries.
Slowly but surely I began to catch up with the feelings of famous poets.
Sunday would not have been complete without the Nagauri Halva ritual at the Shiv Mishhtan Bhandar in Chandney Chowk, a walk through the old bookstores in Daryagan, lunch in Karimsa, a walk along Asaf Ali Street to eat Gulab Jamun, and then a walk to the Supreme Court parking lot to come home exhausted on my scooter. I began to realize that a city with its fame, speed and energy can never be monotonous or boring. This city belongs to the brave, the willing, the energetic and the seekers. After studying history, along with several thousand people who come to this city with the dream of hacking the Indian civil service exam, I was no exception, but I was unable to realize my dream – to get into the civil service. Although I had another connection to the city back then. Once in a while I took a bus to Chawri Bazaar and got off at Javakhar on this Achari Biryani, so it was a nightmare to leave the city.
Sudhir Mishra, environmental lawyer.
While I was at the castle, I kept wondering what is so unique about Delhi that it makes you cry – the smell of the tandoor, the cheerful and mischievous faces, the bright markets, the soulful monuments, the youthfulness and the fact that it never talks about the attitude towards the historic city.
At that time, Delhi gave me another dream and the passion to become a lawyer.
Today, with my busy schedule, I may not be able to follow the rituals of recent years, but time has given way to more recent rituals. If I have a busy day in court, a lunch at Han Chacha Market or China Fare can be a cure; if I have a bad day, a cocktail and chocolate mousse at the Big Chill can cheer me up right away; if I’m very successful at work, a trendy drink service at the Drishti becomes an obsession; and no party or celebration can be complete without picking up my costumes at Sanjay’s unique central store at Khan Market.
But then, with this collapse, the world met Covid-19, Delhi and I also suffered.
I live in Noida and left Delhi on the 21st. March 2020, not knowing that it would take enough time to meet a city that had spoiled me unconditionally, I could be a disgrace and a dreamer. Those 33 days were the longest I have ever spent outside of Delhi, where every day at the normal time was a celebration of life. Now I seem to understand what Bahadur Shah Zafar meant when he cried until his last days in Burma, how cruel it was for him not to even have a few square feet in his beloved Delhi instead of going to a foreign country and dying there. Every time I go back to the city, I have that choir and I’ll shine on my face like I’m back in my favorite playground. For me, Delhi is like a cricket field for Wirat Kohli or a badminton field for Saina Nehwal.
For thousands of years Delhi, in his various avatars, from Indrapraparastha to Shahjahanabad, has had the attributes of Lord Shiva, who drinks poison for others. In the current situation, which has allowed me to stay at a safe distance from Delhi, the number of Covida patients in Delhi is high, not because Delhi has not respected the social distance or the blockade, but because the city has taken over all international flights arriving from February 2020.
Delhi had a compulsive grip on my daily life. While I was at the castle, I kept wondering what the charm of Delhi is, what is so unique that it makes you cry – the smell of the tandoor, the cheerful and mischievous faces, the bright markets, the soulful monuments, the youth – and never to speak of your attitude towards the historic city.
Mir Taki told me aptly: It’s near dili ke, aurak-i-musawwir khain, joh shakl nazar aaiyi, tavira nazar aaiyi. which means it’s not dili ke in the alleys, there’s a work of art… Every look I see looks like a painting.
Given the sealed boundaries of Delhi, I could not imagine not visiting my mother, who is in Delhi. Even though she is over 70 years old and is home alone, she is always in a good mood and says we have to respect the blockade. She was an NCC officer cadet and then a teacher, so I think it’s normal for her to be tough and determined.
It is sad to think that Delhi, who raised me and has always protected and rooted me, will become such a distant country.
I live in Noida, and as a law-abiding citizen I never left home. And yet, while we all respect the constitutional duty to protect ourselves and our fellow citizens, it is painful to see other equal citizens campaigning for a cheap marriage in Karnatak, and even more painful to see equal citizens being transported by bus from Rajasthan. The sense of duty to the state is so strong that you respect every decision of your Prime Minister and support him to save a large population from the anger of this virus, but for some others it seems unnecessary.
But, Delhi, you have my mother, my workplace, my friends, my good wishes, my mentors and my dreams. The city has never given up and I have not yet ended a romantic relationship with Delhi, which has become my extended soul.
Dilly, you can’t be stupid enough not to call me back and be romantic with me.
Can you do that?
The opinions expressed are personal. The writer Sudhir Mishra is an environmental lawyer.
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