Spring In Delhi, A Poem, A Story And Some Thoughts

The more a voice gets stifled, the louder it gets. So much has happened in past few days. There is too much anger and anguish inside me and I am just not getting into the rhythm of regular writing. Pages are still lying blank. Pen poised over them like a finger on the jugular.How can one remain composed when  voices of dissent are silenced. When Rohith Vermula is pushed to commit suicide. When peaceful dissenters (students) are painted as “anti nationals” charged for  sedition without any proof, for just having a different political ideology and guess which one got targeted as a terrorist and why? When news channels incite the public with doctored videos/audios. When evidence is manufactured. When goons are given protection and encouraged in their hooliganism. When students, teachers, journalists are beaten up for speaking up for what is just. When Perversity rules. When acid is thrown on the face of a  woman tribal right activist to muzzle yet another voice of dissent. When the country burns in the fire of communal hatred. When you are hounded and trolled for your stance on what is happening right now in the country When a twelve year old child is hit and her father killed for asking a second helping of meal. When the tragic suicides of the farmers is termed as “fashion”. When there is a complete breakdown of law & order. When anger kills the power of reason. When you are targeted because of your gender, caste, name, political stance or simply because you use your mind and speak out against the unjust.

It makes me uneasy. Makes me pause and reflect.

I fear for my life every single time I open my mouth in this country where I was born and raised. Who will stand up for me or any ordinary citizen? Who will listen to our pleas? I am not as articulate as many of my writer friends but I am a thinking and concerned citizen. A woman trying to stand for her rights and her dignity. A mother watching two young adult sons growing up in an environment that is getting vicious day by day. I taught my children dissent, I taught them to participate actively as citizens. I taught them to be discerning without being judgmental. That is what my parents taught me. I do the same. Does that make us Anti Nationals? Tell me how? Be very careful when you label anyone. Know its power. Labels box you in. I have been boxed in and I know how it feels. It dramatically changes your life in a matter of seconds. Most of the times scars you for life. Listen to that little voice of conscience and dissent that is knocking from within you to wake up. Listen and act.

In the midst of this unrest the spring came quietly to the capital bringing myriad hues of flowers. Every roundabout, every garden, every park is a riot of colours. The barbets, the flaming golden woodpeckers and the parakeets and many other birds are here. The roadsides and roundabouts are full of nasturtiums, yellow poppies, purple asters, yellow violas, red pitunias, Cinnenarias, dog flowers, marigolds, sweet peas, sweet williams, chrysanthemums, dahlias and bougainvilleas in varied hues have painted the city in every colour. Some of the Mango trees are blossoming too and then there is this distinct fragrance of the Saptparni tree across the city. The coral trees and the Silk Cotton trees are beginning to bloom too.

Delhi also hosts flower shows during Feb-March. I went to he 29th Delhi Garden Tourism Festival Yesterday to get soaked in the colours of basant (Spring)

And when we talk of flowers and blossoming how can we forget poetry. A poem got published in prestigious Open Road Review Magazine recently. You can read it HERE.

A Short Fiction also found a platform in Read Fingers, a portal for those who enjoy reading and writing. This story is very close to my heart. Do read it HERE.

Heartfelt gratitude to the editors who appreciated my work and included it in their magazines.

Talking of magazines, if you have not submitted your piece for Cafe Dissensus March issue (23) then please do it fast as the last date is not very far. Here is the submission link. I am guest editing the issue this time. 

I will leave you with this brilliant piece by my friend Nabina Das. – ‘After Every War’: Reading poetry in the dark times 

And One more by Saif Mehmood – Repression and Resistance, Delhi 2016: Through The Prism Of Urdu Poetry  





Delicious Dilli Nights

Winter is the best time to explore and enjoy the night life of Delhi. For foodies like me winter brings an opportunity to relish the dizzying range of street food. Imagine having a hot ” kadak” chai with anda parathas ( egg parathas) of Moolchand paranthewala near Moolchand flyover close to vikram hotel at 12 in the night or for that matter any parathas at Jain ka dhaba in CP. The piping hot parathas with a dollop of butter is the best sight on a cold foggy winter night. The only other warmth that one feels is that of friends.

It is an amazing experience to drive along the dark roods of the capital with a few close friends amidst laughter, jokes, music and chitchat. I can never forget the amazing time we used to have all covered in colorful woolens, with a pre mix ready in the car ..(BTW a premix is either rum n cola or vodka and 7up) 😀 stopping by the roadside dhabha and eating scrumptious Dal makhani, parathas , tandoori chicken and many such sinful delights.

The night adventures are not for the diet conscious. I remember heading for Dhabas at Murthal (on NH1 after sonipat). Though they serve only veg food it is worth the drive. In fact there are quite a few very good dhabas that are open all night near Delhi Gurgaon border and Kapashera Border. At one time the Kapashera border dhabas used to serve ‘bater'(quail) also which is banned now.

Our favorite joint used to be “Chinar” at Delhi Gurgaon Border. The food, ambience and service is great. We had some memorable late light gatherings there. It sure is a big hit with BPO crowd and hoteliers who head for a relaxed meal after a gruelling work shift.
The remembrance of the trips made to places outside indian oil building for parathas still make me nostalgic. For anda parathas green park was the favorite place. we also went to Comsum just outside Nizamuddin Railway station. Though it doesn’t qualify in the street food category but when you want food at 3:30 am that’s the place to be in.

Nizamuddin area is heaven for those who love non- vegetarian food. For mouth-watering mutton tikkas, shammi kebaabs and seekh kebaabs and sweet Phirni in a clay platter is worth a try. There are so many great food joints here that one should really brave the rush and find the one which suits our needs. On Thursdays apart from great food one can even catch some Qawwalis session at Nizamuddin Darghah along with sinfully delightful qormas, biryanis etc.

One place I loved to go and still do is “Ganga Dhaba ” at JNU campus. Like my friend used to say ” this dhaba is world-famous in Delhi “. 🙂 It sure is my kind of place.A battleground for all sort of intellectual debates, a hot spot during university elections, a perfect relaxation joint for friends. The place has it all. The wholesome parathas, endless cups of chai , Alloo bonda, pakodas and shikanji ( sweet or salted lemon water) in summers under the night sky is an unforgettable experience.

A trip down memory lane takes me to the galees and kuchas of Chandini Chawk. Kareem’s( since 1913), Parathewali gali, and many of Delhi’s oldest and most famous food joints are in the walled city and in the days of Ramadan the place is buzzing with food lovers. The sight is enough to put you in a dizzying aromatic experience. Parathewali Gali has the most amazing concoctions of a paranthas ranging from Plain paranthas, salted or sweet paranthas, dal (pulses) ka parantha, gobhi ka parantha (minced cauliflower), radish parantha, pudina parantha (mint), popadom parantha, cashew nut parantha – the variety is endless. One even gets a sinful 16 layered paratha with butter and dahi or lassi .. Nirvana for someone who loves her food.

A night stroll near Jama Masjid can get you to some amazing food places.The place warms up for a long evening at the time when birds are returning to their homes on the lush trees in the area and shopkeepers, tired from their work, are pulling up the shutters for the night. The aroma of sumptuous fish tikkas, kebabs,mutton qormas, biryanis, Haleem, and in sweets jalebis, firni(rice pudding) in earthen bowls and sevion ka muzzaffar fill the night air, luring you to the hundreds of hand carts and small shops with 300 watt bulbs and colorful banners. The hustle bustle refuses to die down even at the mid night hour. By 1:30 slowly and unwillingly the foodies bid farewell to this place and the silent shadows of night take over the streets.

I feel nostalgic writing this post. Some of the most memorable moments of my life were spent roaming the lanes and by lanes of Delhi with friends , an experience which is etched in my heart forever.