By Mehak Bahri
Delhi, as the national capital of India has always been one of the cities that bear the brunt of being the melting pot of the country. Historically, Delhi is the city with the most immigrants and to add to that, this city also is the hub for neighbouring city people for finding work.
India has always been pretty critical of its capital. Delhi’s been called an angry, seething city that is on the brink of destroying a rich heritage and turning itself into a monster where people pop out guns on the very account of someone bumping into them. Our South Delhi people have been categorized as uptight pricks, West Delhi ones as crass Punjabis and East Delhi as the ‘Jamnapaar’ area where everybody gets groped.
“Tu jaanta hai mera baap kon hai” is the biggest Delhi cliché that is prevalent to everyone in our country. “Bhench*d, tu bahar mil” is another favorite AIB dialogue that categorized the Delhi crowd. I’m not here to deny any of the allegations targeted on Delhi, but there is another side of Delhi that people have completely forgotten. There is a side to Delhi that people choose to ignore, or are too blind to see with all the comedy stereotypes directed towards the city.
To restore an iota of faith in our capital, here are a few personal experiences and a couple of well publicized incidents that prove to us why Dilli is still Dilwalo ki city.
1. The Rickety Rickshaw
I was on a rickshaw on my way to the metro station sometime around 10 in the morning. Now, the road that takes me to the metro station is a pretty busy one, where cars are constantly whizzing past. Oblivious to the dangerous, steep turn that the rickshaw puller took I was immersed in the music I was listening to on a volume that is one step away from being harmful.
Embarrassingly enough, the rickshaw overturned in the middle of two red lights and both, the puller and I fell quite awkwardly. Almost immediately, the traffic came to a halt. People got off their cars and bikes and came to our rescue. I was pulled up, handed my bag by a couple of wonderful women while the rickshaw puller was being helped by some men.
During this whole time, none of the cars’ drivers impatiently starting pressing their horns. Strangers asked me if I wanted water, and if there was anyone they could call from my house. Nobody shouted at the hurt rickshaw puller. Someone produced a chair from somewhere for me and a few very kind people stayed with me till I regained strength and mental balance. Also, I didn’t gun down the rickshaw puller even though I am a Delhi Punjabi. Shocking.
2. The Wonder of the Washerman
Five or six years ago, my grandmother got very sick all of a sudden. She had three consecutive operations and it was a tough time for the family as my grandfather and grandma lived alone. We were still living out of India during those days. Right below my grandmother’s house lived a washer man/ironing man named Ramesh. An angel is one word short to describe him. Along with his daily chores, attending to his own family, he took care of my grandmother.
Ramesh didn’t ask for money, but he catered to every need of my grandmother. She lives on the first floor, and he would constantly be running up and down, checking on her and completing his washing. He went out and bought all the heavy medical equipment and food for my grandparents when they would return from the hospital.
My grandmother had never done anything extraordinary for Ramesh, but he helped them in every way possible without asking or hinting for a single rupee. Oh, and another tiny detail, Ramesh is a Bihari and has never stolen anything from my Grandmother’s house. He had the keys, my grandparents are old people, and it wouldn’t be very hard, would it?
3. Delhi Metro Diaries
Who hasn’t heard a scandalizing incident about the Delhi metro? The impossible rush hours and the bursting crowd make up for most of the ‘horrific’ stories. While someone is being groped, another person just got their phone stolen. I’ve cribbed enough about the metro myself, and I’ve tried all other mediums of transport but still prefer the metro anyway.
With more than 25 lakh people travelling the Delhi metro every day, there definitely must be at least a 100 stories to share.
A friend of mine, let’s call her Himani was travelling via the metro to her office. On the way, she dropped her wallet somewhere which had all her identity cards, her debit and credit card and some cash. Anyone would be completely dumbfounded about what further steps to take. Himani had given up hope after confirming no report of her stolen wallet. After a day, a man called her up to tell her that he had found her wallet somewhere on the Noida metro line. He handed her the wallet, cards and cash, both intact. He denied the cash that Himani tried giving him.
His kindness saved Himani a lot of trouble and somewhat restored our faith in humanity again.
4. The Nirbhaya Protests
It is undeniably true that the Nirbhaya incident was a horrific incident that left millions of Indian citizens shocked and dumbfounded. It was a perverse case that no defense can even stand up to. It was one of the biggest episodes of grotesque behavior in the history of rapes and/or abductions.
However, there was a glimmer of hope and understanding between the Delhi citizens when the protests started. People from all ethnicities, all social classes and all ages were joined together in the hope of redeeming a smidgen of what Nirbhaya faced. It was one of the few times that the Delhi-walas did not think about themselves and how the police was reacting, but they cared about the life of an innocent woman.
There have been footage of people being sprayed with water, girls being hit with sticks and limbs tearing, but despite all of this, the fire of the protest did not fail. Delhi came together for a cause that benefited no one particularly, but changed the whole face of the city.
So the next time someone starts blaming the capital for being intolerant, or being a disastrous city, remind them of some of the incidents that have taken place which changed our outlook on Delhi. I’m sure people will come up with a hundred other cases of Delhi shamming, but if there is one bright event, we’ll always have the hope to being 100% dilwales.