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Posts tagged ‘Delhi’

Houses I have Lived In Since My Birth: My First Home #1


Yesterday I noticed a post on soulsisters about no.of houses a person moves in their lifetime, with an average being 8-9 it said. That got me counting and counting and counting…I did till 14 but it wasn’t the end. Having lived in 4 countries across 2 continents, I thought I will document them in a blog instead of counting them… This post may interest whose paths may have crossed our, in our life’s journey while in any of these houses.

My First Home:

“Jain Sweets wala makaan”…this is how this first house of my life is referred to by our family. It was in F Block Model Town Stop 2 in Delhi. When Papa and Ammi got married on 5th Jan 1964, within a month, Papa moved, with his new bride, out of his ancestral home in 120 Bazar Matia Mahal, Jama Masjid, Delhi 110006, to rent this modest 2 room portion of a home on the 1st floor in F Block Model Town 2, Delhi.

The house was the first floor, front portion of the house located on the main road and had Jain Sweets and other shops on the ground floor. Jain Sweets remained was one of the most important landmarks in Model Town for decades. Across the central open space at the back lived a widower father Mohan sb. with his 3 children in their late teens and early 20s- Anita, Neeru and their little brother Nanna. Within weeks Ammi became friends with Anita and Neeru Didis, while Papa and Mohan sb who they all ended up calling Daddy till the end, became buddies, discussing politics, books and other intellectual stuff. Papa was called Bhai Sb and Ammi Bhabi ji by the 3 kids. They all became one family. Ammi taught the girls how to cook ‘meat’, in varieties like “qorma”, aloo salan”, ‘koftas’ etc.It is in this home that I and then my twin brothers were born. And we literally grew up as toddlers play all day in the Daddy’s quarters.

The house was owned by a couple I remember as Chacha ji and Chachi ji. Chacha ji in my vision( as we kept in touch for decades later ttoo) was a lean and thin, inconspicuous, unassuming, old man. Chachiji, I swear am not exaggerating was the size of Tuntun, and was the real landlord for the two tenant families. As Ammi says, “she would suddenly appear on the floor peeping into ‘our quarters’ and of Anita Neeru to check if the houses were well kept.”
She would be particularly impressed that a Muslim couple had kept a tasteful teak sofa and a decent bedroom. And the kitchen was clean too. She would tell Ammi, “Ap log parhe likhe ho naa.. “

As the word spread that a Muslim family is living in the neighborhood, a poor Muslim woman from Rajasthan and her 15 year old son Nizam came up to see my Mom. Ammi was excited that she too was from Rajasthan, as Ammi had recently arrived after marriage from Jaipur too.
They were traditional tie and dyers from Jodhpur. Papa suggested them to start a small dyeing business in the corner of the road. Within years they became a roaring success, bought 2 shops, a van and a house. And until I got married, in 1990, Nizam remained our dyer and never charged us a penny.

Papa’s phupi amma lived with them most of the time in this small house as she was the one who had raised Papa. She was the only person who influenced control over him. Not even his father did, as Papa and Dada Abba had fallen apart on many issues, he being a maulana snd Papa being a ardent Leftist who chose Political Science as his field of study instead of Islamiyaat, at that time. In fact the reason for Papa to move out of Jama Masjids ancestral home was that Dada Abba had demanded, “Dulhan ko parda karwaogey…” and instead of arguing or confronting his father, Papa decided to move out. The excuse he gave was that, “Model Town is closer to my University.”
So this Phupi Amma was the only one Papa would listen to.

Of course, in those days, especially in old conservative minds like Phupi Amma, privacy was not a thing, not even for a newly married couple. She would insist Ammi to sleep with her as she was afraid of the chupkalis (lizards) that navigated all night all across the walls of her room. According to Ammi, “Your Papa would be strolling in the open verandah, anxiously waiting when would Phupi Amma sleep and when I would slip out of her room.”
Once, just to pull her leg, I told Ammi, “Come on, Ammi. You had all your kids in that house. Don’t blame Phupi Amma for not letting you be with Papa.” She didn’t find it funny. 😀

It is in this house that my parents with me as a few month old baby, saw the 1965 Indo-Pak war. There used to be back outs in Delhi. Once Ammi said she got up to make a milk bottle for me at night and lighted a candle and there was a scream from someone in the neighbors, “Shut off the light. What are you trying to do?” Ammi said being a muslim, she was so scared if they would be misunderstood, as the Hindu-Muslim tensions always rose high in such times. Although in 1965, it was still much safer that what if the same scenario had to repeat in 2021.

I was told by Papa that even though his family had grown from 2 to 5, they felt living in that house with wonderful neighbors was a huge plus point so they never moved until the following happened:
I was 3 and my baby brother were still infants. So I was sent to a cutest Nursery school nearby called, Jack n Jill School. So I had gotten wiser and my imagination was growing wider. Papa used to ride a Vespa scooter then, and he would pick me up from school and drop himself. I would stand in the front as he rode the scooter, and we would ride back home chatting about what happened in the school. One day, I told him, “Papa hum gate wale ghar meyn kyun nahin rehtey?” (Why don’t we live in a gated house?). What i had meant was, “Why don’t we live in a bungalow?”
Papa was so moved by this innocent query that he decided to move out and rent a bungalow.
That house will be the next story in the next blog.

I wonder, is the famous Jain Sweets still there?
Is that house still there or demolished?
Is Nizam’s Dyers shop still there. He must be an old man in 70s now.
It merits a visit to this area on my next visit to Delhi.

Unfortunately, despite a lot of searches, i have not been able to find Anita or Neeru Didi on social media. They must be in their 70s now.
Nanne bhaiya, called Deepak Mohan had become a Sous Chef in Taj Intercontinental and was last I know posted in Hyderabad and living on Banjara Hills. He must have retired now.

Wonder if this post might reach them? Social media is powerful. YOU NEVER KNOW.

PS: Next houses in next blogposts.
Pic below was taken at Jain Sweets house rooftop by Papas photographer friend Nisar Bharti. Lost touch with Nisar uncle since Papa’s death in 1998.

Choking and Laughing in Delhi’s Pollution


When there is little you can do to change the ridiculous situation, the best tool you can resort to is satire. Satire and jokes through social media posts, memes, and even poetry are the ways Delhiites these days are coping with the frustrations and helplessness in the choked air.
Its hard to preserve the health of your lungs in the months from October to December when the Air Quality Index reaches ‘Hazardous’ levels of 500+, but good humor can at least preserve your sanity. Dark humor perhaps.

Below are some of the most eye catching memes I cam across on social media:





Being a cricekting nation, how could there not be a meme with Cricket:


Ofcourse there has to be memes relating to Bollywood films & its stars too!



The two memes below are my absolute favourites:

POETRY ON POLLUTION:

I came across a few pieces of poetry too on pollution.
Here is one by:

Firecracker

The leaves on the Ashoka tree outside my window droop.
There is no breeze to caress them.
There is no fresh dew.
They droop with dust, soot and smog.
And as they droop, so does my heart.
An eagle flies through a dusty haze and trees in the distance are foggy.
A tired insect flies by, its wings so heavy, as if the drag of the soot- laden air makes it fly through treacle.
A truck blares a horn far away.
The parakeets are absent. The pigeons have fled. The squirrels are not running about.
My eyes dart here and there, searching for my familiar morning sights.
It is quiet. Oh so quiet.
And no one is awake.
And the leaves on the Ashoka tree droop as they bear witness. Her leaves cry silent tears as the birds flee. The guava tree is laden but I don’t need to chase the parrots away.
As I hear another firecracker in the distance,
I push back my chair, and I sigh.

~ A poem by Jhilmil Breckenridge

Credits: I read this poem in a brilliant firsthand account by Mayank Soofi on Delhi’s pollution “Oh Ghalib, give us a verse on Delhi Smog”. Link to the whole article: https://www.livemint.com/Leisure/M6rO1l78bW8jkDMSxDPJtM/Oh-Ghalib-give-us-a-verse-for-the-smog.html

At the political front, the supporters of AAP’s Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal at state level and BJP’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the centre indulge in mudslinging, blaming each other for the root cause. Meanwhile, the kids take the most toll, not just in terms of health risk, but also by missing schools after the announced closure. 😦
Some samples of this political tit-for-tat can be seen in the slide-show below:

Then there are honorable Ministers like these who are walking talking memes themsleves.

Politics of religion is not ingnored either in this catastrope that spares no one, from any faith or class. Last year when the Delhi Govt announced a total ban on crackers on Diwali, a classmate of mine from Grade 8th taunted on the Montfort Class WhatsApp group:
“Yeah on Bakr Eid, killing animals is good for soil, but bursting crakcers on Diwali is bad for air pollution.”
Sigh ! I could only pity his self-destructive bigotry.

On a serious note, there can be no lighter side to an issue as dark and deadly as this. According to Air Pollution Index Hazardious ( Severe Grade 6) its health implications as described by WHO are:
Healthy people will experience reduced endurance in activities and may also show noticeably strong symptoms. Other illnesses may be triggered in healthy people. Elders and the sick should remain indoors and avoid exercise. Healthy individuals should avoid outdoor activities.”
This is a textbook example of a slow-killer.

Being born, raised and educated in Delhi, it hurts to realize the catastropic health consequences that over 20 million face in my homecity. I thought Delhi was unlivable even in the late 1980s as a student when every girl of my age group had to endure regular eveteasing( aka sexual harrassment) in horridly crowded DTC buses. (Thats another story of my Delhi that merits a separate session of storytelling.) Tbh today’s Delhi is a living hell.
With an ever widening rich-poor divide, Delhi’s pollution has proven to be a great equalizer. Now the rich, ruling and the powerful elite cannot escape in their safe havens from the poisonous air.
During my last visit to Delhi in November 2017, I experienced suffocation, breathlessness and buring eyes, accompanied by hours of traffic jam on the roads.
I took a deep breath of fresh air as I landed in Toronto 3 days later. My heart still ached for the loved ones, including my mother in her late 70s and three beautiful nephews and a neice, I had left behind waving at the Delhi airport, who like millions of other seniors and children in the NCR waited eagerly for a breeze that could blow away the smog until next Diwali season. That breeze did not blow until mid-December.

I do agree with the Manager of Haji Hotel ( ref in Mayank Soofi’s article) that we dearly miss Ghalib’s brilliant satire on the current state of Delhi.
In the heart of my hearts I also thank my God that free-spirited Mirza lived in Delhi in a different era. You all can guess why.

Just to leave a pleasant taste in my own mouth( and maybe yours), let me pen off this blog with this song:
Pollution by Rahul Ram:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ggVfvauo28

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