It’s something we decide to do every year, but often miss out on. This year, we pushed to catch the tail end of the Ramzan nocturnal revelries at the Jama Masjid in Shahjahanabad, Old Delhi. For Rahul, the food is the primary attraction; for me, it is the vibrant street life and an opportunity to wield my camera and simply see a life so unlike mine!
We went in a group of eight, some who had never been to the old city before. I savored the sights and smells, enjoyed the feeling of being lost in a crowd, the feeling of being welcomed by those who knew we were coming in from the outside to partake in their celebration. There is always an element of nostalgia for me, during these trips. Memories of early explorations of Shahjahanabad when I studied in SPA in the ’90s as well as memories of childhood trips to the older parts of Lucknow, which are similar in feel though not in architecture.
I feel, not merely discomfort, but a profound sense of sadness when Hindu friends make veiled derogatory references to Islam in the context of visits such as these. What we experienced last evening was the vibrant expression of a culture, that extends beyond the mere boundaries of religion. It is akin to being absorbed by the Kumbh or the Pushkar Mela. It is living heritage, one that is constantly under threat from change, yet one that is constantly evolving to absorb change.
The evening progressed. Food and plenty of laughter, random meanderings amid families shopping in a frenzy before Eid, watching a mobile phone thief being caught and mobbed and led away, children manning parantha stalls, youngsters looking for the best food deals, the homeless sleeping on the pavements oblivious of the ruckus all around, and then, a crazy taxi ride back home listening to the non-stop entertaining chatter of a Vijay Singh Rajput, our cabbie who had an opinion on everything and a certain way with words! An evening well spent indeed!
Sharing some images, so you can also take a sneek peek!
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!