Delhi … Or Dilli?

Delhi is a city of varied colours. And this can be said not just in the metaphorical sense, but rather in the physical sense, too. Delhi, as a city, is a little different from Mumbai. While Mumbai is the melting-pot, Delhi is much the salad-bowl. The ingredients of this salad-bowl do acquire much of the taste of the dressing, the aromas that the city sprinkles on her people. But that said, you can see how they manage to keep their individuality, while at the same time, being the Dilliwala. So you would see Delhi as being a salad with the Tomatoes, Radish, Parsley, Coriander, smelling refreshingly of themselves, while letting you know clearly that they are all beautiful parts of the same salad.

In this manner, Delhi is the ideal city to be the capital of a country like India. Where all communities are at once Indian, while at the same time Punjabi, Bengali, Marathi, Tamil, or any other community, whether based on region, religion, or any other basis. Ok, so you must have heard these thoughts, or something similar, being spoken so many times, you are wondering why i am even writing this.

If you are still with me, let me just write on. For all the romance which Calcuttans generate (at times much more than what one would think required, this having said that Calcutta is one of the most charming cities in the world), or the hoopla people from Mumbai tend to create, the romance of Delhi is something which isn’t written about as much as one would, if one just looks around the city.

Now, the romance of Delhi itself is multifarious. The romance of Delhi is Divine, and it is material. It is of this world, and of the Beyond. But it is definitely not commonplace. To begin with, Delhi shows immense capacity of displaying so many facets of it’s romance … With the Lord, and with the world. And Delhi loves with all her heart. As the song from Delhi 6 goes …

Ye Dilli hai mere yaar,

bas ishq mohabbat, pyaar …

Ishq, mohabbat, pyaar, and much more is Dilli. And she shows it amply. There are many things you would see in Dilli. After all, Dilli, as we know it today, is not one city, one seven cities, from the time of Indraprastha, to the time Of Lutyens, and on to Punjabi times … Dilli has all the fragrances. Whether they are the Langars celebrating the Equality of all humanity to the Divine Father, or whether they are the Chhabeels … Delightful and refreshing rose-milk … Quenching parched throats in the name of God.
Whether you are Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, Buddhist, Jewish … Delhi embraces all. Whether you are seeking God through the Akhand Paath … Wending your ways to Gurudwara Bangla Sahib, or the Gurudwara Sis Ganj … Or you may be the devout Hindu … Whether Faith draws you to Hanuman Mandir, or to the Kaali Baadi, or the LakshmiNarayan Mandir, or the Malai Mandir … Or if Faith draws you to the Jama Masjid, or the Fatehpuri Masjid, Idgah … Or if Faith draws you, in the spirit of Dilli … To the by-lanes of Nimazuddin … Where you may take your fariyaad to the great Saint … And none shall ever leave empty-handed the doors of Hazrat Nimauddin Auliya! And Delhi bows in reverence to all the manifestations of God. And continues the Divine romance … Whether serenading the Divine Beloved through Bhajans, Jagratte, Shabads, or the Qawwalis … Dilli has a flair for singing her love. Bas ishq, mohabbat pyaar …

With love more material … Dilli derives her name from the heart of the matter … The Heart … Dil!

Kaun jaaye aey Zauq, Dilli ki galiyaan chhod ke!

Or so asked Shaikh Mohammad Ibrahim Zauq, the legendary poet, who graced both the Urdu language, and Dilli.

Dilli dilwaalon ki hai!

Or so said Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib!

Such is the magic of Dilli … Whether it be cricket in the streets, or Pakode with Saunth, or Chhole Bhature … Chaat, Tikki, Kulche Matar … Tandoori Chicken, Kadi Chaawal, or Rajma Chawal … Or Fish Fry, or Fish Cutlets … Or if you prefer Dosas … Or Paya, Nihari, or Nargisi Kofte, Shammi Kababs, Galouti Kababs, or Seekhs … With soft Rotis … Or whether it’s Lassi in tall brass glasses … Or Desi Ghee ki Mithai … The flavours of Dilli … Mughlai, or Punjabi, Bengali, or Tamil, or the quintessential Dilli … These are all flavours Dilli calls her own. And many more, of course.

Whether it be the Laal Qila, Chandni Chowk, Hauz Qazi, or it be Ajmeri, Kashmiri, Turkman gates … Or the Jantar Mantar, the Delhi of Lutyens, or the Purana Qila, Humayun ka Maqbara, or Safdarjung ka Maqbara, Jamali Kamali, or the Qutub Minar, or Mehrauli, phholwaalon ki sair, or Tilak Nagar, or Punjabi Bagh … All of these tell the story of a city which says …

Bas ishq mohabbat pyaar …

If i were to sum this up, it’s simple to say that Delhi is a city which straddles multiple worlds. You can hear, probably only in Delhi, the strains of Bhajans wafting from one direction, and the melody of the Qawwali from another, Bollywood from a third … And Delhi is the city which straddles the world of Qawwali and that of the Commonwealth Games. With a number of new-age symbols defining the city … One of them … The Delhi Metro. And the city lives, and loves on … In the past, the present, and the future … And continues to live, and dream, in myriad worlds … Many seemingly different from others, and yet, in Dilli, as in Delhi … These worlds yet continue to live on.


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