Dil se Dilli

I know I should be writing the chapters of my thesis and do some literature search and review but I find writing about general stuff more interesting. So here I sit and write about my home-town. I never realised when I fell in love with Delhi until I had to re-locate in 2008. In past 4 and a half years, I have hardly been able to spend time in the city and I miss it all the time. (Clearly, I am homesick and I need to cave in.)

Geographically,region in North India that includes the Union Territory of Delhi, cities of Ghaziabad and Noida in U.P. and Gurgaon and Faridabad in Haryana together form the Delhi/NCR region. However, the residents dissociate themselves from the inhabitants of the NCR by classifying them as ‘pseudo-delhites’ and ‘non-natives’. This is highly evident especially in cases of road rage where regardless of whose fault it was or where you originate from, you are subjected to the rant; ” Abey B****c***, saala, jaat kahin ka!! Teri maa ki… @#$%^&**. Bahar nikalo inhe yahan se. Kharaab kar di dilli.” Inclusion of the NCR region in UCT of Delhi has also changed the meaning of the word ‘bhaiya’. Traditionally used in Hindi language to address elder brother with respect, owing to the recent rise in population of people from other parts of India especially Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, its usage has become highly controversial. Well these ‘bhaiyas’ are really smart tough. They exactly know how to give delhites a taste of their own medicine. If you hear a vegetable vendor or an auto wallah or a painter talk back to your family members and address them as Aunty Ji or Uncle Ji irrespective of the age, do not get offended. You know where it is coming from! (believe its a brilliant comeback.:P)

The capital of India welcomes people from all parts of the world as there is plenty in store for everyone. A mix of all the Indian cultures and many others from around the world, its hard to divide the people. However, Delhi has long been battling the prejudices against the muslims and the north-east Indians in particular. The word ‘chinki’, a racial slur, is a part of a Delhites vocabulary. It is surprising that the Delhites did not even realise that the term is derogatory and racist until the Ministry of Home Affairs asked all the states and union territories to book anyone who commits an act of atrocity against people from the region under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Oh boy! 5 years of imprisonment if you call someone a ‘Chinki’… Better watch your tongue Delhites! The muslims are the worst sufferers when it comes to finding houses as its very hard to escape the stereotypes with the landlords. The community in general is considered to have unhygienic habits and people are mostly mistaken to be terrorists. The city is always on high alert and prone to terrorist attacks which has forced Delhites to not trust anyone. The condition worsens when the individual has a muslim name. Not only are they refused accommodation without consideration, they are often looked down upon and called ‘atankwadi‘ in retaliation when they question. All this inspite of the fact that Delhi’s history is mostly Islamic. The historical monuments like Qutab Minar, Humayun Tomb and Lal Qila, which we Delhites  are proud of are signatures of the Islamic rulers of the past. It is disheartening to know that the muslim community has to bear such harsh attitude across the city.

Despite its problems, Delhi is by far the best city in India when it comes to liveability,  food, cultural diversity and education. It is the home to prime educational institutes such as, the Indian Institute of Technology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi University, Jamia Hamdard University and Jawaharlal Nehru University. We do lack an Indian Institute of Management but I am hopeful we will get one very soon.

The city where originated the mughlai cusine  with the famous kebabs, tandoori chicken and biryani, also has its own version of  delicacies from other parts of the world such as the ‘Chicken tandoori panini’, ‘Chinese chaat’, ‘fried momos’ to name a few. The concept of ‘dhabas’ and ‘street food’ is highly popular and well suited to the needs of the habitants. The city loves its food so much that it has an entire street, Paranthe Wali Gali in the busiest market, Chandini Chowk, dedicated to it (karim’s pe murga aur shiv charan ke paranthe nahi khaaye toh janaab aapne kuch nahi khaaya.) Its indeed a foodie’s paradise!!

 Oh! By the way, those waterballs which tantalize your tastebuds, is called  ‘Gol- Gappe’ in Delhi except in Bengali market and CR Park where you may call it as ‘Fuchkas’. Also, ‘Aloo chaat’, which we are very proud of, requires the ‘Aloo’ to be FRIED and mixed with a tonne of spices. End of story!!  Boiled potato would just not do and is absolutely out of question. (For all those obsessed with hygenic stuff, Bitto Tikki Wala is the safest option. Zyada posh hona hai toh Bikaner aur Agarwal bhi hai!)

Delhi is the ‘power hub’ of India as it is home to the prime minister, the president and other prominent political leaders which decide the country’s future. The prevalence of political infrastructure and habitats in the city have influenced the life of the commoners as well. Each and every individual in Delhi has some or the other connection with either a ‘lukha’ or a well known politician. The dialogues, “Tu jaanta nahi hai ki mera baap kaun hai?“,”Tu bas kaam bol, sab setting ho jayegi” are often uttered for a reason.

Similar to the other cities in India, Delhi too has a distinctive lingo with Urdu and English influenced Hindi and a very distinguished vocabulary. Some of the phrases which form a part of a delhites routine dictionary are:

  • ‘Jugaad’, in essence, jugaad is a tribute to native genius, and lateral thinking. It means “can do.” or where there’s a will, there’s a way.
  • Hool Dena‘, meaning to threaten,
  • ‘Lanka Lagna/Lag gayi‘, used when a major trouble hits with everything going wrong and ultimately turning into a disaster
  • ‘Sidey‘; a sidekick or a minor character usually used to describe people with not so prominent roles when narrating a real life incedent
  • ‘Tharki’ , meaning someone who is horny, coquettish, flirtatious
  • Bakchodi’ Absolute bullshit
  • ‘Thulla/Thulli‘ Delhi speak for a police constable
  • ‘Behenji Turned Mod’  A family-type chokri who has suddenly taken to fashion and the good life.
  • ‘Fuchhas’ a college fresh-man
  • ‘Staff’ orginally meaning the member of faculty. However, in Delhi University, the term is used by students from a college when asked by a bus conductor to buy a ticket. It is more of a threat in this case, meaning that the conductor better allow the concerned student(s) free travel or else the bus driver and conductor  will be beaten up by the student(s)’ henchmen.

If insulting our own countrymen and co-habitants wasn’t enough, we delhites also coined a term for the NRIs which the entire country readily accepts. The link for the same is http://samosapedia.com/e/ungli-ready!  😀

Although, the city is prone to terrorist attacks, these never say die spirited people with huge hearts (‘Dilwale‘) continue to live happily without complaining. The phrase, ‘Life goes on no matter what‘ is truly applicable to the delhites along with the mumbaikars. Its a city of vivid and bright colours, with people so different and yet alike, with something to give to anyone who wants to be a part of it. No wonder I love it to bits and the little memories that I made with my friends and family in the city are treasured forever.

We may be ‘show offs’, ‘loud’, annoying and ‘snobs’ of the first lot, but you may never find a friend like us (if you manage to befriend us… which is easy… just show a lot of love and take everything we say lightly..basically tolerate us) ever in your life.

No one lives life the way a Delhite does and you need to live it to know it.

Before I sign out, I leave you with the map of India according to a Delhite. Its as true as it could be.

P.S. I decided to skip describing the experience of shopping in Delhi as I was afraid that I would not be able to confine myself and go on to write a tremendously long post.

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