Yeh Sheher nahi Mehfil hai
Prasoon Joshi quite aptly describes the essence of Delhi with these lines. This is a Mehfil , a festive gathering, and not a city, he says.
Delhi, or Dilli for the locals, got its name after the Urdu word ‘Dehleez’ meaning threshold. The story behind the name of the city seems to have faded away in the numerous attacks, mutinies, fanatic rulers that Delhi has endured over the centuries.Having stayed here, I have my own perspective of the name. It is a city which has no threshold for affection.
Like every other city, Delhi has gems hidden within its congested lanes. One such place, called Kake Di Hatti, showed me its true noble character. Much has been written about the variety of food and its taste, but this place with its exceptional service showed why the food tastes so good. The secret ingredient in Delhi cuisine is the love. You simply could not have tasted a better Naan. The attentive waiter, the ease inquiring manager and their insistence on serving Mukhwas even after I had come out of the Dhaba makes you forget that you are in the bustling Chandni Chowk. It could easily have been mistaken for one of the Taj’s signature hotels. And it seems every restaurant wants to outdo each other in service. I felt like an Emperor even if i had only tingling change in my pockets.
A lot of hue and cry has been raised for the travel woes in the city. However, I continue to be surprised each time I get into a rickshaw or a cab. They never seem like strangers. It reminds me of a long distance train journey I used to take in my childhood where after a few stations, the neighboring seat member used to converse like a long forgotten uncle. There is a warmth in the drivers conversation. He almost every time reminisces gaily about his old days and family, but never bothers you with his melancholy. The recent conversations usually included appreciation speech for Ola/Uber and few casual statements about the change in the city. Last night, I asked a rickshaw wallah to drop me before the designated endpoint, and he stunned me by charging less than what he has asked for. I have not experienced such a phenomenon anywhere else till now.
What makes a city lovable is not its monuments, food, infrastructure or hotels, only the people.
Yeh Mastaano ki Dilli, Dewaano ki Dilli,
Yeh Shayaron ki Dilli,
Yeh Hai Dil ki Dilli