By Avantika Seth
My left leg stepped onto a dusty ground and the steel balls hit the brass bells of my ancestral anklet. The steel balls and the warm unfriendly wind seemed to play around on this hot summer’s day. Albeit my ear drums were almost dead because of the loud piercing noise of the horns blowing on the nearby highwayyet this musical clash had something to wake them up, something peculiar and something that welcomed them ‘warmly’.
‘Welcome to Delhi Haat’
Reading the hoarding all I could feel were the strong muscular cramps in my stomach. For many people it’s just like any other usual place but for me, today, it was a step into India, a mirror of what my country had to offer. The pebbled and sandy pathway guided me towards the much awaited entrance. Coloured bands and stone necklaces displayed on a mere polythene sheet not only drew my eyes rather were able to drag almost every person’s footsteps towards it. The essence of India’s mud made me forget about the air conditioned and high rated coffee shops.
Delhi Haat was established and opened in 1994 with the joint venture of Delhi Tourism (DTDC), D.C (Handicrafts), NMDC, D.C. (Handlooms) and Ministry of Tourism and Textile, Government of India. Delhi Haat Shopping provides a full exotic variety in shopping products that includes handlooms, handicrafts, woodcarvings, camel hide footwear, drapery, fabric made clothing, gems, beads ornaments etc. The handicrafts stall in the bazaar is placed on rotational basis where the shops will have different product every after 15 days, so that the tourist and visitors can enjoy shopping different products emphasizing different part of India and even the craftsmen get a chance to place their products in the Delhi Haat. This ensures that visitors get to buy authentic wares at prices that have not been inflated by high maintenance costs.
Buying a mere 20 rupees ticket enabled me to go inside. Unlike the noise outside, this place had more to offer. It had to offer something beyond my tradition, something beyond my culture; it had to offer me my identity, something that reminded me of my roots. It was a special feeling for me, but was this the same for other locals who had come around?
Has modernisation changed us so much that we can’t think beyond a John Lennon song with a Barista coffee on the most comfortable couch? Or is there still a chance for us to enjoy the spicy pani puri in the scorching heat?
If there are chances then believe me Delhi Haat has more to offer than just a pleasant outing, a stressful shopping session or an eating joint. If there’s a chance then hear to what the place says. Hear the cemented flooring, listen to the striving bargains, listen to the bansiwala’s music, open your eyes wide and see the whiteness of the pearls, taste the dry air around and feel their stories.
Each thing has to say something to you. Did you ever take out time to listen?
Were you so busy to buy the wall hanging that you didn’t care to understand who the vendor was? Did you get so engrossed purchasing a saree for your dear wife that you ignored the taste of the kesarpistakulfi you were just having?
Kumar Lun works in a food joint in Arunachal Pradesh’s stall. “Though I can’t do much for my state yet there’s this strange satisfaction of working here and representing my state.’’
He has a story to tell behind every momo he sells at Momo Mia, did you ever find time to listen it? I’m pretty sure your answer is a straight no.
The ever so equipped with a rich heritage and a strong knit culture lost its ‘Sonekichidiya’ title quite soon but still there is something about US Indians that has still kept us together and better. We lost a lot yet there is something that we gained and that was our realisation for the close and varied culture we have. A place like Delhi Haat is the essence of our culture and traditions. It’s an atmosphere which rejuvenates your soul and makes you cherish your existence.
The ‘bazaar’ culture that the place offers has proved to be successful in drawing the attention of youth. Though there’s a rise in brand savvy generation, increase in number of air conditioned malls etc yet Delhi Haat has the strength to make you feel ‘at home’. The scorching heat and the stoned platform don’t make you feel ‘uncomfortable’ or ‘tired’. The aura satisfies the inner self! Probably that’s the reason why still youngsters feel attached and warm there. The only thing we mustn’t forget is that no matter how westernised we become our existence is defined by our origins and our culture. We must always respect it!
And if you’ve not visited the place, then my dear reader let me tell you that it’s worth giving a try! Wear some good Indian outfit and get drowned in what this mini India offers! If you’re a foodie, then that’s a cherry on the cake for you. Wide range of cuisines offered from all the states of India, get ready to grab your favourite!