After a long time , I finally picked up my copy of “City Of Djinns”by William Dalrymple .
Cursed myself for not having this gem in my bookshelf before. Well,procrastination indeed is a devil. So, while reading the book I came across the mention of Ahmed Ali’s “Twilight in Delhi”which is another masterpiece. It’s available in stores and if you’re an Urdu Connoisseur and have a strong desire to know about life in Delhi before partition and independence then this is the book for you.
I reminisced about the galis and koochas of The Walled City and within no time I ended up googling about the Havelis of Old Delhi. ( you can have a look at them here : http://olddelhiheritage.in/category/haveli/ ).
The Havelis and the fluent Urdu which were once the jaan of Delhi now merely form a part of its long lost “Riwaayat : روایت : tradition”
Our Riwaayat which we have allowed to be ransacked with time and now nothing but dilapidated structures remain. ( The owner of the famous Ghantewala Sweets in Chandni Chowk closed it down recently owing to “system failures”) I wonder who is to be blamed? The ignorant owners who failed to preserve their viraasat or prefer to exchange it for a few shellings because they are in dire need of money only to end up buying a new bungalow in Lutyens Delhi or to lead a happy life with the “sahebs” who not a very long time ago ruled them. (Ah,talk of the slavery blood still running in us)
What should I feel more sorry for? The havelis which are now ruins or the replacement of chaste urdu by “Kaarkhani urdu”as Ahmed Ali likes to call it.
Melancholy for the Riwaayat which was been uprooted and dispersed.