A balmy breeze blows at me as I stand at Chandni Chowk watching the world go by. Some of the world is rushing back home, for others the job of unloading and loading goods still goes on and others seem to have just stepped out of home to sample the pleasures of the day. Shouting, bargaining, laughing and daydreaming people all co-exist in this place that is chaotic and timeless at the same time!
We have spent a few hours in Kuncha Mahajani parlaying with a wholesale diamond and gold jewellery merchant. Before that, we meandered through Kinari Bazaar, buying odds and ends. Grand old buildings, dilapidated and yet in better shape, outshine the newer monstrosities here. Glimpses of decently preserved streets tantalise me, but there is a momentum I am loathe to break to the human and non-human traffic that flows through the gales, kunchas and katras of Shahjahanabad.
An empty road in Gurgaon feels stressful, I thought, while a chock full bust full gali here feels restful, so measured and practised is the pace of life here. Even the contractor who stands beside me shouted at his labourer, a wizened old man, with practised ease, ordering him back to work because he stole a few moments of rest.
I imagined the street in its original glory, with a water body running down the centre. In my mind’s eye, I hear the sounds of the Azan, the tinkling of ghungroos and the whispered murmurings of a time long gone by, smell the fragrance of fresh flowers and ittar. I return to the present and smile. My city is beautiful still.
Thanks to Nipesh’s excellent organizational skills, some 20 of us from diverse backgrounds gathered tonight at Karim’s in Jama Masjid, old Delhi to eat a goat together!! Yes, you read right. An entire roasted goat sat at the center of the table and everyone partook of the feast. A Friday evening in Purabi Dilli means throngs of people, especially outside its grand mosque, which is one of my favorite spots in this city. Even though we were a large group, the waiters kicked us out the minute we were done to make space for the several groups waiting outside. For food lovers and lovers of life, eating here is an experience not to be missed. Even if you are vegetarian, do try it for the unique experience of the place itself!
Tonight was special because it was one of those, come and get your friends along type of event. In essence we were 4 or 5 sub groups of people gathered together for the sole purpose of eating bakra! We smiled across the table, even chattered a bit to people who were virtual strangers, giggled with people we did know and enjoyed the comfortable bonhomie of a common cause! Quite interesting 🙂
The meal cost us Rs 500 per head. Besides the roast bakra, we ate chicken biryani, mutton biryani, vegetable pulao, mutton korma, mutton liver curry and rotis.We drank cola mostly, no alcohol here. Awesomely good food for the price!
Aside: We traveled from Gurgaon to Old Delhi by Metro. Perfectly safe and excellent experience even though we took one of the last trains back…the Metro has changed life indeed for our city!
I don’t have too many images of tonight, but you’ll get an idea!
Tomorrow: Foods we sampled in Istanbul!