TheCalmDev (Dev J Haldar)

ravings, rantings and ramblings

The Old New Delhi

Sometimes, what’s broken doesn’t need to be mended. It needs to be destroyed completely; to be rebuilt again.

I wrote this line recently as I visited the city I grew up in, New Delhi. There was nothing ‘new’ about New Delhi.

I landed there in the second week of December, on work and it certainly did not feel home. I grew up in that city but I did not have any flashes of warm memories flooding my head. Instead, I was staring at the city from my taxi window, as if it were heaving and breathing slow, like a slow ebbing away of life.

The other day, after work, I decided to walk back home. As I walked, I could see the city’s cracked skin and aching joints. Years back, I remember, how Delhi winters used to look and feel – foggy, fresh and lazy in the warm sunlight. Today, she looked old and dreary, dusty and creaking. Cracked roads with potholes the size of a Chinese wok pockmarked the entire South Delhi scape. Footpaths stunk of urine leaking from dysfunctional lavatories. Traffic looked just as like a herd of goats – directionless without indicators. Eager as untamed horses wanting to leave the signal first when the lights turn green; undisciplined and wild.

I looked up at the skyline jostling with buildings that each deserved to be pulled down. Dirty and dusty and unplanned. Huge ducts that carried the city’s Metro ran in asymmetrical pillars adding to the unaesthetic clamour. No paint job. No finishing. The trains looked dusty with a few wire mesh plates along the tracks missing. I wondered how new is this gift of the metro train and it already looks worn out? As do the new public transport buses. Windows scratched and dirtied, the buses could do with some make over. It was almost like having a teenager use anti-wrinkle cream!

It felt as if the city and its inhabitants hadn’t seen any better. CNG auto rickshaws look like the largest pollution contributors, CNG cabs look as if they have returned from Kabul and CNG state transport buses bellow smoke from their backs like there is no tomorrow. This is how we ‘Go Green’ for our city! Every other day, celebrity endorsements adorn full-page newspaper ads, screaming eco-consciousness! Sure, a practiced smile, some controlled skin show, logos of industrial houses constitute to a successful ecological ad campaign. We do brush aside the fact that the celebrity endorsers themselves, keep their vanity bus’ air-con on while they shoot on sets. Now that is eco-logical.

A cabbie, very aptly put it while driving me to my destination. He said that there is a lot of money in the city, just no etiquette. Delhi residents have developed a unique ‘problem overlooking solution‘.  They have mastered the craft of turning a blind eye to the lack of basics and instead turn to their money for succour. Bad roads? Here, let’s buy a Porsche Cayenne!

Loads of money is not the answer to a good life when the city is falling apart from all its joints – civic amenities, law and order, administration. 

The city I spent all my life, is dying.

I want to re-build it. I have a plan.

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One comment on “The Old New Delhi

  1. Ankit Ojha
    December 12, 2011

    Too late for me to reply perhaps? But plans need support, don’t they?

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