Being in a job that often takes me out of Delhi, the city I am born and brought up in, I always say to people – Delhi is my janmbhoomi and Dharmbhoomi, even if not my Karmbhoomi always. As soon as my work is over, I take the next flight/ train to Delhi and am back home. It’s like Delhi is calling me.
You must have heard this quote many times – you can a dilliwala out of Dilli but not Dilli out of Dilliwala.
And in today’s times of lockdown and restricted movement, this has become very relevant. Whether you are in Delhi or outside restricted in some part of the world, you must be missing some aspect of Delhi, food, people or anything else that you find unique to Delhi.
For me the thing I miss the most is the mad vibe of city that has suddenly become so quiet.
Apart from missing meeting my niece who lives across the road, what I am missing about Delhi is picking up the camera and clicking people around and talking to them, enjoying the beauty of Lutyen’s Delhi, walking and window-shopping through different markets, experimenting with food and of course negotiating travel fare with autorickshaw-walas – to name a few.
I took lockdown as an opportunity to ask people ‘what Delhi means to them’ across Social media platforms because this is the time people would realise the worth of things that we have been taking for granted in normal circumstances. I was surprised to find similar reaction from friends and people across social media. Just like me, Delhi is more than a city to many others.
Vandana Singh Slathia, also born and brought up in Delhi, misses everything about the city. She feels that Delhi is home and only a Delhiite can understand the emotion. What Vandana and I feel for Delhi, Sangeeta Venkatesh feels for her hometown Bangalore as she is currently in Mumbai and misses Bangalore.
Two things that came out strongly are the missing vibe of Delhi and Street Foods of Delhi. My sisters, Jyoti Gupta, who shifted abroad a while back misses spending time with family, impromptu meeups, potlucks. one of my nieces misses golgappe the most and a friend Rajan Chawla misses all foods of Delhi. Currently based out of London, Rajan visits India for a month, once a year, with a long list of foods that has to be ticked before returning.
And if that is not enough, Vishwanath Nishad once flew from Pune to Delhi just to have Chole Bhature.
Another friend Smriti, who was born and brought up in Delhi and stayed out of Delhi as well as abroad for many years has come back to city, shares what she is missing about Delhi during lockdown –
Delhi has always offered long stretches to walk. Even though the city has become very crowded, still there are patches where one can just start walking. As a matter of fact I enjoy walking in crowded areas like bazaars, flyovers and lanes. I miss that the most. Followed by eat out places. My idea of a well spent evening has always been great conversations with a dear friend and eat great food. That too is something I miss.
Abhimanyu Sharma also misses gol gappe to chaap and momos, though it’s mostly the people.
From joggers in Lodhi Garden to picnicking families at India gate to college students in Connaught Place and not to forget the buildings and historical monuments that Deli has to offer. Delhi is a sea of emotions.
Mohit Mahajan also feels the same. He believes that Delhi indeed is an emotion and those who have seen it grow certainly love the city
Anshuman Vishnu likes Old Delhi the most. According to him –
This lockdown would be the perfect time to take a walk through the lanes of Old Delhi, but unfortunately not possible. I used to visit Old Delhi for photo-walks and food-walks every weekend in winters and sometimes in summers as well. I look forward to roaming around in Purani Dilli and taste some good old Delhi food again.
Anushree Bhattacharjee shifted to Delhi in 2014 mentally prepared to love the work but hate the city. But she was completely taken by surprise when she fell in love with the city. She says –
Delhi’s reputation among friends and family was never the best. It was a complete shock when I found myself falling head over heels in love with Delhi within my first year. The years have only made my love affair with Delhi stronger. I love that Delhi has its own personality – love it or hate it, there is simply no one I know who can be neutral about Delhi. I love the hustle bustle and lip-smacking food of Old Delhi, the old-world charm of Lutyens Delhi, leisurely winter walks through Lodhi Garden, the grandeur of Mughal architectural remains, and exploring a variety of cuisine and cultural programmes from all over the world that Delhi gives access to. To me, Delhi is now home; and I know I will carry a bit of the city in me wherever I go. I am ever grateful for the kindness shown to me every day by random strangers, and the love showered upon me by the tribe of friends and family that I have found in my city.
It is not just Anushree who has accepted Delhi, but Delhi too has welcomed her with open arms. And Anushree is not the only one who has fallen deeply in love with Delhi. Srishti Singh has started missing Dilli even more than her birthplace because that’s what love does to you. Delhi is one of her favourite places to visit, whenever she can.
Speaking about her love for Delhi, Srishti says –
Have you been ever filled with warmth and love just at the sight of a monument? Has a road uplifted your spirit like a child on his birthday?
Sounds mundane, doesn’t it? But if you look closely, you might feel what I feel. See what I see, breathe what I inhale. Just open your eyes and let the city do rest of the work. The city of sultanate’s which saw bloodshed frequently than rains in monsoon. Such was the captivating power of its throne that it changed occupants rapidly. Brothers killing each other, sons asphyxiating fathers and the likes.
Nothing was mundane here. It is the land of extra ordinary history. Luckily, we have remains of it scattered all across the city to delve into the past. If you haven’t already, start exploring the capital of your nation beyond food and shopping!
For you are unaware what you are missing out on! The tombs, the forts, the gateways and folklore attached to each nook of Dilli will render you speechless. My personal favourite has been Safdarjung for reasons unknown. I have felt a deeper connection to the monument every time I have had the privilege of visiting. Not only is the architecture spectacular, the structure itself is dominating yet enticing. A seducer playing his game with charisma.
Kudos to the ASI (for this monument at least) for they have taken the restoration seriously with minimal hampering of the original intricacies. That’s saying a lot. The Tomb is a perfect example of what Dilli represents, elegance, authority, beauty, love and complete dominance over its terrain.
The traffic or the Jor Bagh Metro Station’s proximity has not in the slightest affected the grandeur of Safdarjung. Oh I miss Dilli so much. More than my birthplace even. That’s what love does to you!
She is already looking forward to her next visit when she can visit Safdarjung Tomb at night which she has heard is Godly illumination. In fact she changed her travel itinerary and made a plan for week’s stay in Dilli specifically for this initiative by the Government.
So what are you waiting for… share your story of Delhi and what you are missing the most during the lockdown?