Every city is a work of discovery. This winter, I set out to discover Dilli. Tucked away before the grand drama of Saket’s malls is Malviya Nagar. A refugee settlement in the 1950s, it was initially a new home for Haryanvis and Rajasthanis that fled the bloodbaths of the Partition. Named after Madan Mohan Malviya, it is squeezed in between the posher facades of Panchsheel Enclave and Saket. The one claim-to-fame that Malviya Nagar always had was Sheikh Yusuf Qattal’s tomb. Not that I wandered around an old tomb on a winter’s eve. Still. After a fairly decent cuppa ginger tea and a surprisingly great grilled panini sandwich at T’Pot, I figured I might as well walk away a headache and check out the neighbourhood. And I wasn’t disappointed. An autorickshaw mounted with two loudspeakers decried the local government. The smell of roasted shakkarkand and aloo chat played with the buzz of a thousand voices. Fruit, laal gajjar, stacks of mathri, salted groundnuts, rewri. Everything that spells winter. All Delhi. Who knew of bread pizza, with little tomato slices and white cheesiness on triangular sandwiches? Or the advent of cheese-aloo momos? Streets full of newness! “Sorry Girls, For Mens’ Wear Only” and “Bhutaani Stores” jostle for space between a Smartphone outlet and a famous ice cream parlour. Diamond stores and shoe shops. Paanwallahs and watch-repairers. “Maydum, rose le lo.” The blare of horns. Audis that take up more space than their stream-lined makers would ever admit. Sardarjis and twenty-year-old Maruti 800s. Latest fashions in winterwear – purple wool kurtis with multi-hued scarves stitched on. A microcosm of Dilli. A small town. Almost provincial, with its muddy roads and dimly-lit streets. With every street explored, a new world to be in.
Dilli ki dehleez par