Three Karachiites in the Indian Capital

By Mayank Austen Soofi

One afternoon I bumped into a Pakistani family in Gurgaon’s Metropolitan Mall. The mother, Fauzia Shakeel, was in Delhi after a gap of 25 years, while daughter, Urfa, and son, Rizwan, had come for the first time. They were staying with Indian relatives but were on their own in the mall.

“There’s nothing like this in Karachi,” exclaimed Rizwan while comparing Gurgaon’s skyline to that of his city. A stylish young man of 24, with gelled hair, he was in a blue T-shirt and white cotton capris. “No, capris are what the girls wear,” Rizwan explained. “This is called three-quarters.” He said it with an authority befitting to what he is – an ambitious fashion designer.

Brought up in Karachi’s middle-class Baloch Colony, amidst a family business of cycles’ wholesale, Rizwan’s career choice had created ripples. His father, who wanted him to be a banker, was upset. “Pappa said that a fashion designer’s job is not real work,” Rizwan told me while peering into the Swatch showroom. The mother had then stepped in and convinced her husband to let the son do whatever he wanted.

A black sheep in his family, Rizwan was looking exactly that in the mall, while walking between his traditionally dressed mother and sister. In their long-sleeved shalwar suits, both stood out among Delhi’s jeans-clad mallrats.

Rizwan agrees that it demands more hard work when one is trying to carve an identity that is separate from that of the family. Even before he could have completed his graduation from Karachi’s Asian Institute of Fashion Design, he hired a tailor and jumped into the business. The initial orders – almost all were for men’s wear, especially shirts – were from friends. Once they were won over, more orders came from their friends. “We have many good designers in Pakistan but no big fashion houses,” Rizwan said. “And I want to run such an emporium where under one roof you could get a complete range of wedding designs from clothes to cards to jewelry.”

Since the Independence Day was just a week away, the mall was decked with the Indian tricolor. “Mamma, at least get a photo done against their flag,” Rizwan called out to Fauzia. “That’ll be a proof that we were really in India.”

While taking the escalators to the first floor, Fauzia grew nervous. She finds it difficult to maintain balance on these self-automated stairs. “They are there in our Karachi malls also,” she sighed. However, supported by her laughing son and an embarrassed daughter, they landed safely and stopped outside a saree showroom. Rizwan pointed to the embroidery work on a Kanjeeveram silk hanging on the display window. “Every store is offering discounts,” whispered Fauzia. “Yet I can’t see anyone carrying a shopping bag.” Next pause was at a men’s salon where he wondered to get streaks done on his hair. “Our wallet will be emptied in one go,” said the mother. “Things are so expensive in India.”

Later, the family sat down for a meal at Haldiram’s, on the third floor, and ordered for masala dosa. During the wait, Rizwan looked around and said, “In Karachi if we spot a girl in jeans or shorts, we say ‘Wow, it’s an Eid today.’” Sister Urfa smiled. “I saw girls riding scooters here,” she mumbled, and blushed. “In Pakistan, they always sit with both their legs on one side.” The discussion stopped with the dosa’s arrival.

“What’s this,” the mother pointed to the crisp layer. “Is that a wrapping?”

Clueless to the world of South Indian cuisine, the three Karachi-ites peered inside the dosa, tapped on its surface, tried to turn it around, and discovered a potato stuffing inside. They referred to sambhar as bhaaji and stared at the white coconut chutney with complicated feelings. Urfa yearned for a KFC burger but the mother said that she could always have that back home. “In other people’s countries, you must try their dishes,” she said.

Picking up the earlier conversation, Rizwan said, “The population in Pakistan which wears short clothes is very small and belongs to a special class.”

A little later when he went to the counter to get himself cold coffee with ice cream, the mother confided to me, “He is working very hard and Inshallah, he’ll be successful in the fashion industry.”

Rizwan sure is promising. In his seventh semester, he had designed a jacked inspired from the works of a Canadian painter called Lena Karpinsky. The artist was so impressed that she created a separate page on Rizwan on her website.

By the time the family walked out, it had grown dark. Having bought nothing, they sat down on a grassy slope and quietly looked at the neon signboards blinking on Gurgaon’s several malls. “Indians have now more money,” the mother said. “We also have these kind of malls but you people are ahead.” They then decided to try out Delhi’s famed metro train the day after.

45 Comments

Filed under Pakistan

45 responses to “Three Karachiites in the Indian Capital

  1. koschan

    dilli is the coolest city in the world………the metro undoubtedly is better even than the ny subway. The hallmarks of delhi are the evergreen varieties of trees esp amaltas gulmohar mango and the historic monuments which it has in abundance…… Dilli will be the paris of 2040…..
    ylh, if u come to delhi i m sure tne scale and speed and efficiency of DMRC ie metro construction authority will astonish u too…..metro reaches aiims in january 2010 and it will be a boon for all the resident students here.
    bye till next week.

    -..

  2. yasserlatifhamdani

    Good for you koschan.

  3. Hayyer 48

    @Koschan
    As a frequent visitor to Delhi, against my will, needless to add, I always try to get away as soon as I can.
    Delhi, as of today, is pretentious, packed, puppy or yuppie (as you prefer) corrupt, parasitical and pampered. It is the worst sort of place one would want to live in.
    Gurgaon, which is not Delhi, is worse.
    You do well to compare the Metro with the NY Subway. The latter is undoubtedly the dirtiest ugliest subway that I have seen. Delhi is cleaner, but only just about number two from the bottom.
    Delhi and Paris? Delhi and Ludhiana is a better comparison.

  4. Akash

    Thank god that the women were not groped around while they were in Delhi. That, unfortunately, is also a hallmark of our capital city.

  5. Hayyer 48

    Yes, later in the evening they may even have been carried off.

  6. Hassan1657

    probably thats why we can not live together… we live on so many complexes and never miss a point to boost whatever we have…

  7. yasserlatifhamdani

    Hassan who is boasting?

    PTH posted a favorable article about Delhi and Indian patriots are pointing out the other side of the story. This is how it should be. We Pakistanis should work to better Pakistan and Indians should work to better India and we should support each other and see each others as comrades in a common human struggle.

  8. Hassan1657

    well… to me the karachiites look a bit of puzzled, inferiority complex-stricken..people who are suddenly caught up with their own failure to progress and develop…TO ME..N I might be wrong..
    I view all the articles written by Pakistani/Indian bloggers and then the comments but I somehow feel, that no matter how much we want to comfort each other, we end up causing pain to each other.

  9. Gorki

    “Delhi and Paris? Delhi and Ludhiana is a better comparison”.
    ………………………….

    Hey!!
    What is wrong with Ludhiana? 😉

  10. bonobashi

    @Gorki

    Nothing, now that we’ve both left! ;-D ;-D ;-D

  11. koschan

    i have been provoked to reply now that hayyer is back to his old ways and that i have finished my anatomy chapter in the b d dixit library
    hayyer ,look you and majumdar are some of the meanest cynics i ve read,i mean what can satisfy you? i imagined a delhi of 2040 ….

    ..to me delhi is the place i have chosen to live for the next half decade atleast and as you know the favorite argument of yasser sahb in favoring pakistan despite its follies is that pak is his home and one doesnt hate ones home,similarky i cannot afford to hate delhi ……. Moreover the people here r among the most industrious i ve seen anywhere……but the only bad think bout dilli is its biharification ie people here also utter the most vulgar words unlike say in bombay…….i d never heard the word gaandu ,which is a bad word, before i came to delhi.

  12. Hayyer 48

    @Koschan
    I apologize for hurting your sentiments. But in Delhi you will undoubtedly learn much more than a few swear words in the half dozen years that you expect to be there. Youth is learning time though and I wish you learn some good things too along with the healing arts.
    Delhi though can only get worse.

  13. Adam Insaan

    “….Delhi and Paris…”

    -I have been in Paris quite many times, and everytime I walk down the boulevards , that be Rive Gauche or Rive Droite I am just amazed, not to mention Champs`.
    -Haussmann did really do a fine job there.
    I have been in many cities especially in Europe, so I I will be happy to see if Delhi can beat them,
    until then Paris is my favourite.

    -a humble adam

  14. Akash

    @Koshchan
    “but the only bad think bout dilli is its biharification”
    Wow. Clearly, you haven’t lived in Delhi for long. I lived there in early nineties, for almost a decade, and even then it had the superb reputation as a place where all sorts of “gaali” flourished. At that time, Delhites ascribed it to Jattification. Of course, if anyone heard the ‘original’ Punjabi populace of Delhi, he/she would be shocked to learn that abusing one’s sister or mother is as common as comma and full-stop. I belong to Bihar and it was a cultural shock to me. Of course, Biharis, like Muslims, are the favorite whipping boys in India, except that, unlike Muslims, there is no where to complain about such stupidity.

    I am not sure if Delhi is going to be like Paris in 2040, but the way the world is evolving, we can be sure that Paris would be like Delhi in 2040.

  15. Gorki

    Adam Insaan:
    “Haussmann did really do a fine job there”.
    ……………………………….

    Can’t agree with you more although I want to add that Paris is a work of art for which many more architects besides Haussmann deserve credit.
    For example I can never tire of admiring architectural details of Notre Dame (which took more than 100 years to complete after Maurice de Sully first approved the plan.)

    Every time I visit it, I come back astonished by the sense of devotion (not in a religious sense)and creativity of those who must have toiled at it knowing fully well that they would never see the completed end result.

    Similarly I was afraid that IM Pei’s modern glass pyramid would disfigure my favorite museum and palace; The Louvre; but when I was pleasantly surprised when I visited it last since far from disfiguring it, the pyramid seemed to have enhanced it and now it seems that it always belong there in the first place.

    Florence with its Ufizi is another rare Eurpoean treat that I can never get enough of.

    These majestic cities of Europe are works of art and rare treasures that are a product of many brilliant minds and took centuries to build.

    Someone once said ‘architecture is poetry in a built form’.
    He certainly knew what he was talking about. Not even the US cities with all their garish Las Vegas lights or Disneylands can match these cities in the timeless quality of their architecture. No crash building jobs can match Europe and its cities in a hurry.

    While I can understand Koschan’s youthful enthusiasm with which he is watching his new Delhi emerge in front of him and even admire his loyality to his native city but want to say that for me, I can not see anything surpassing these noble European cities anytime soon for what they evoke is not Hubris but humility and awe.

    Regards.

  16. Susan

    @Koshcha

    Regarding “biharification”, I want to say that, as a Bengali bride in Bihar, I can vouch for the fact that Biharis are in general very traditional people who stick to their culture. They definitely have other vices, but throwing slangs (esp in front of women/elders) is not one of them.

  17. Majumdar

    Koschan,

    I was driving back to my office from a meeting and a drive which shud have taken me no more than 1 hour took me 3, all thanks to a 15 minute shower. Delhi has got a long way to go.

    Regards

  18. karun

    I can not see anything surpassing these noble European cities anytime soon for what they evoke is not Hubris but humility and awe.

    The only 3 cities in the world which can lay claim to be an embodiment of history are:

    Rome, Istanbul and Delhi.

    Paris is lovely bcos of its art, ok we can include the architecture, glass pyramid stuff is quite cliche’ just like parisians dont like eiffel,
    florence to me is strictly okk although my sympathies lie for sienna and venice
    rome is the granddaddy of all (havent been to athens)

    although will agree:Not even the US cities with all their garish Las Vegas lights or Disneylands can match these cities in the timeless quality of their architecture( with the exception of NY Manhattan)

  19. yasserlatifhamdani

    “Rome, Istanbul and Delhi.”

    Lahore and Taxila have a much greater claim for different reasons.

  20. Majumdar

    Yasser Pai,

    Does Lahore have the same number of imposing monuments that Delhi has?

    Regards

    PS: Of course, Lahore has Dunkin Donuts, Delhi hasn’t.

  21. yasserlatifhamdani

    I can assure you that – and the Dunkin Donuts champion will affirm it- once a person has enjoyed an evening out in Cocco’s Den in the Mughal Lahore, no other city comes close to experience.
    Now that things are almost back to normal, I extend to you an invitation to come see for yourself.

  22. koschan

    to the biharis, i genuinely feel that i should not have written the word biharification.My apologies.
    other than that, i only want to say to gorki that keith l moore rocks.
    i sometimes wonder when will india get rich….and when will the aam admi also be able to visit paris ,london, gre enland like gorki,karun and ylh…,,the other day i met a canadian tourist in dilli and asked him what he did for a living….he said that he was unemployed !!!!!india shoukd atleast get that rich if not more .

  23. Gorki

    The only 3 cities in the world which can lay claim to be an embodiment of history are:

    Rome, Istanbul and Delhi.
    ………………………………………………

    I guess I will agree to add Delhi to the list only because of strict nepotism although Delhi does not meet my personal criteria; which is beauty of the architecture and not by amount of history carried on its sleeve (as signified by number of ruins present.) ;-).
    Even the ruins found in Delhi are mostly from the medieval times.

    Rome still qualifies either way (I have not been to Istanbul although I understand it rivals Rome) since it has structures like the Pantheon which can lay claim to both; being truly ancient and yet still has a largely intact and magnificient interior. (Vatican buildings are more from the middle ages.)

    I am sure there are other examples and other opinions.

    Regards.

  24. Gorki

    ..and when will the aam admi also be able to visit paris ,london, gre enland like gorki,karun and ylh
    ……………………………..

    Patience, my young Jedi; patience.
    At your age I had not yet set foot beyond my equivalent of the ‘Shire’ as the character in the book (and movie,) Lord of the Rings said. 😉

    You still have time for things to see and places to go.

    Regards.

    Gorki.

  25. bonobashi (zapped and amazed)

    @Gorki

    Your selection of historic cities was really annoying (and I have no doubt at all that it was unintentional, coming from Martin Luther King XVII as it did).

    Everywhere I’ve been in Europe, the trail pointed towards Rome, and my curiousity grew. Then we got to Rome and the trail pointed elsewhere!!!

    Were you in your senses omitting Athens from the list? I can understand that airhead H + S making this mistake, but you?

    Pathetic. I’m really sorry, but there it is. Totally unforgivable. (Constantinople and Delhi in the list. Oh, please).

  26. D_a_n

    @bonobashi….

    janab…I must protest you putting Istanbul in the ‘oh please category’ ….it is quite magnificent 🙂

    and young jedi??

    Yoday…? Aay kee kitta?

  27. Gorki

    Uh Oh! What did I do now!

    I guess there is a firestorm brewing already and I have to move quickly.

    Therefore I must protest very loudly on my behalf that:

    a) This comparison\ list was drawn up by koschan and Karun; I merely commented upon it

    b) My comments were limited to comparing architectural beauty rather than the historic greatness (or claims thereof) of cities although they do overlap.

    c) Athens no doubt has a large claim on historical significance but architecturally if you take away the otherworldly ruins of the Acropolis, mainly the ruined Parthenon (Thanks Turkish gunners!!) then there is not much left to write home about the remaining stuff.

    d) If the list of architectural wonders has to be exhaustive then not only London but also Vienna, St. Petersburg and Budapest should be also be on everyone’s short list.

    e) If historical significance alone is the criteria then Bonobashi has a point but if it is a weighted scoring system is used (architectural beauty + history>> current importance) then many other noble cities vie for attention. I would like to include the Andalusia wonders, Grenada and Cordoba (which I could not see due to a last minute cancellation of travel plans courtesy the Spain train bombers)

    @ D_A_N:

    Regarding Yoda\Jedi\Lord of the Rings etc.
    I plead temporary insanity. (This is my story and I am sticking to it. 😉 )

    Regards.

  28. bonobashi (zapped and amazed)

    @Gorki
    @D_a_n

    If there’s one lesson I’ve learnt from debates on Internet web sites, it’s that everyone carries around his own set of goal posts, and effects ‘running repairs’ from time to time during the game. In the mind’s eye, it makes for a beautiful pattern, almost a pattern of arabesques, as each proponent of each argument aligns, shifts, rotates, inclines, then breaks into airs above the ground, and goes into a courbette, a capriole, a levade… the mind’s eye must droop in weariness after seeing this energetic and enthusiastic exercise.

    This was aimed at you, Gorki, for the following sentence alone:

    The only 3 cities in the world which can lay claim to be an embodiment of history are:

    Indeed. And what do we do when trapped? Why, this is the wrong game, of course; what’s the silliness all about? Nobody’s actually won or
    lost; bonobashi, poor fool, thought it was polo; it was actually basketball, although admittedly we may have fooled him unintentionally by turning out in britches and sola topis, and mounting up.

    So the next quotation:

    My comments were limited to comparing architectural beauty rather than the historic greatness

    Levade, anyone? Or is this strange sight one of Doc doing a series of courbettes out of earshot? slightly handicapped by that dwarfish figure with a wet Blackberry crouched on Doc’s noble steed’s cruppers.

    Really, Doc; you can get a good guy out of Ludhiana, but you can’t get Ludhiana out of a good guy.

    As for the rest of you deranged pack, with your Stambouls and St Petersbergs, where else in the world can you stand in the same auditorium where they first declaimed the passage about the ‘bottle of oil’? Stand in the assembly where Persia’s armies were reported, and it was decided to make a stand at Marathon? Or where Themistocles persuaded the citizenry to stake their fate on a sea battle? Or witnessed an awestruck assembly listen in rapt silence the tale of God-like valour displayed by the long-haired Spartans against the arrayed ranks of the Persian horde? Or listened to Pericles inspire the city to hold its empire? Or witness the rabble-rousing Cleon have the generalship thrust upon him, after he had made a nuisance of himself, a formerday Zaid Hamid, and proceeded to inflict the first defeat on a Spartan detachment in living memory of the Greeks? Or have the assembly order the massacre of the captive city, only to change its mind within hours, and send a galley chasing after the first, with rich offers of reward for overtaking the first, fatal messsenger?

    In which other city can you go and stand at the door of Socrates’ prison and think of the last night, spent in philosophical debate and speculation, and the last reminder of social duty,” I owe a cock to Aesculapius,” made to an even greater philosopher standing and weeping as his master sank into eternal sleep?

    And the Parthenon? a few dismissive sentences about powder-storage and Venetians? May the Gods of Olympus forgive us. No, most of all, may the dread goddess Pallas Athena, embodiment of wisdom forgive us, for dismissing her battle against Poseidon for the sponsorship of the city, where he brought forth a proud, stamping war horse (levade, anyone?), and the gray-eyed goddess in her battle-dress smiled, stooped towards the scanty earth and brought forth an olive plant. She would have loved the Bishnoi!

    Not a hint of the noble, unmatched proportions. No mention of the straight lines, of which not a single one is in fact a straight line, instead being a series of curves leading the eye to believe these are straight, but in subtle ways which in the clear light of Greece cannot be by illusion but must be by coup d’oeil.

    Keep your grand fanfaronades, gentlemen; I am for a bottle of ouzo in the crowded Plaka, looking at Syntagma Square, with the Acropolis keeping an eye on goings on, with the sacred hill Hymettus stretching across the unseen horizon on the left, across the path down to the Peiraeus.

    I know, Dan, Istanbul seems like a great city. It was a little fishing village when Athens and its democracy ruled without challenge in the Middle Ocean. Consider it in perspective. The eastern empire built it extensively, from, what? about 400 AD; prior to that it was a slower growth altogether. It is beautiful, from the pictures; and it is so seductive, culturally. I can imagine how an educated, sensitive Pakistani would fall head over heels in love with it, with the heady mixture of western liberalism, and its Muslim roots, its immemorial military tradition, including a trait worth emulating, chivalry to the foe, and its democracy which works.

    But it isn’t Athens, Athens over which is the clear, lucid light of Hellas, Athens which Pericles in his funeral oration called the example to the world, Athens the beautiful, the noble, the beloved.

    Αθήνα, η μητέρα της δημοκρατίας, η μητέρα μου Αθήνα.

    Athena, e metera tes demokratias, e metera mon Athena: Athens the mother of democracy, my mother Athens.

  29. Gorki

    Bonobashi dear fellow:

    I have only read so far:

    “This was aimed at you, Gorki, for the following sentence alone:The only 3 cities in the world which can lay claim to be an embodiment of history are”

    Can I humbly suggest that : THESE WORDS WERE WRITTEN BY KARUN, NOT ME!!!

    (Kindly read his post Da; I was only responding to them. 😉 ) So you were saying?
    Let me now read some more…

  30. koschan (awed)

    bonobashi ji,you write so beautifully ,garnishing every post of yours with manmohak alankars.As salman rushdie once said in a different context ,”reading you maddens my heart with delight……”
    Keep writing

  31. Gorki

    OK I have read it all;

    Still, with due apologies, the above post applies. ;-).

    Besides I know better than to indulge in a battle for historical greatness against the wise sage; but Bobobashi Da; Athen’s greatness is eternal; that was not the point of contention.

    We were talking about what a visitor from today (preferably a historically challenged one) would find worthy of interest in any of these cities. I specifically mentioned architectural details that I can admire. (OK the straight or not so straight lines were good)

    Besides I have seen the Parthenon; not only in Athens but in half a dozen US state Capitols and half a dozen buildings in Washington DC itself.

    Now with your permission I want to hide before the next thunderbolt from mount Olympus of the Bengali equivalent of Arcadia is hurled at me.

    Regards.

  32. D_a_n

    @Bonobashi…

    Sir…all I can say it…the physical beauty of the place and a sense of personal ownership in it’s history notwithstanding…

    you unmasked me pretty well by the following 🙂

    ‘It is beautiful, from the pictures; and it is so seductive, culturally. I can imagine how an educated, sensitive Pakistani would fall head over heels in love with it, with the heady mixture of western liberalism, and its Muslim roots, its immemorial military tradition, including a trait worth emulating, chivalry to the foe, and its democracy which works.’

    I would advise a hotel room over looking the bosphorus and imagining the chain across the banks for an unforgattable visit….

    PS: The scenery aint bad either if you get me drift! 🙂

  33. bonobashi

    @Gorki

    Oh sure! ‘To each his own’. As an elder statesman of these columns yearns after the cities of the deserts of Central Asia, Europe beckons to some others, and the lush, fecund fields of Bengal to yet others.

    Don’t read this praise of Athinai to be a running down of other beautiful worthwhile places. It is just my personal tribute to the mother of democracy, and to the Greeks, great civilisers that they were, but known to a mythical Indian society, which we are now informed never existed, as ‘the viciously valiant barbarians, who have conquered…..’ What an impact they had on our sub-continent, across all of our north-west! And how they retained their curious, enquiring minds, isolated many thousands of miles from Ionia, and from the sea, the all-encompassing sea running into Father Ocean, that brought out spontaneous cheers from Xenophon’s Ten Thousand, when they had fought their way through Imperial Persia’s might, savage mountain tribes, treacherous chiefs promising friendship and delivering ambushes – “Thalassa, thalassa” .

    Greece is always first. I was within six feet of the Peloponnesus, never realised it, and never set foot on it, never having returned to Greece since then.

    I will present you with a marble copy of the Taj Mahal when we actually meet, since you admire such things, having seen half-a-dozen Parthenons in the US, besides the half-a-dozen in Washington itself.

    @D_a_n

    That is the soft, agreeable side of Turkey and the Hellenistic civilisation (not Hellenic, please note). For me, when I can travel there, I would like to visit first the memorial to the Gray Wolf, then come down to the Golden Horn. Have you been to Gallipoli? It is worth a visit. There is a monument there, where the Ataturk addresses the mourning parents of the fallen, and tells them that the Turks will honour their memory. A paladin, ranking with the great Algerian hero Abdel Kader and Salahuddin. The rest, with the utmost respect to the general after whom you’ve named little Golguppa, are also-rans.

    Now I shall retire at a sedate pace to get into my plate armour.

  34. koschan

    bonobashi, nowadays you donot address me and i feel very very bad….

  35. Gorki

    Bonobashi:

    “I will present you with a marble copy of the Taj Mahal when we actually meet, since you admire such things, having seen half-a-dozen Parthenons in the US, besides the half-a-dozen in Washington itself.”

    Mere Pyaare Bengali Scholar Saab; It seems that you have your teeth firmly dug into the flesh and would just not let go. Now it is getting a little irritating. 😉

    I am on call for the next 24 hours, and not having the luxury of time, will try to write a response later…

    Regards.

  36. karun

    cannot defend as brilliantly and evocatively bono has done for athens:

    but the sight of ‘humayuns tombs’ with its arches and chattris and the infinitely intricate lattice works along with islamic calligraphy at the qutb complex still sends shivers down my spine

    imagine the perfumed water flowing through canals in Diwane-khas in the redfort, with shahjahan aloft the price less peacock throne receiving guests among dazzling carpets and a brilliant silver ceiling.

    or picture chandni-chowk unlike now with its fountains and water reflecting the full moon

    the obervatory at purana killa where humayun might have slipped to death so that akbar will have a greater grip on the country with an uncertain beginning

    though despite being smitten by delhi, i am yet to see most of its historical ruins…there are so many…seven cities they claim nested within each other…and the mystic jinns keeping guard over its eternal secret 🙂

    by the way i am reading a book on lahore edited by bapsi sidhwa

  37. bonobashi

    @karun

    AFAIK, the Emperor Humayun was descending his library steps with his arms full of books (a weakness for books was one of his endearing traits, with several others), when he heard the call for prayer, tried to kneel to acknowledge it, got his foot tangled in his robe and fell down the stairs. He died several days later.

    He was known to be fascinated by both astronomy and astrology; the latter was a baneful influence, and he made some disastrous decisions at the beginning of his reign before learning to set aside these childish things. But the fatal accident was not within one of these observatories of his, to the best of my knowledge. I could be wrong.

    Delhi undoubtedly has the best ‘presence’ of Indian cities, if one discounts the immemorial Varanasi, the centre of the world. Having said that, if I were to want to spend a summer afternoon, it would be in Paris; if I were to spend a summer, it would be London; if it were to spend the rest of my life, living au pension with the company of books and music, with the possibility of cheap travel through Europe and Africa without too many restrictions, it would be Athinai. Conditions apply.

    Please do not abuse YLH; it is painful to behold, and unseemly to boot. Look at the present pack baying at him, and ask yourself if you want to be of them.

  38. karun

    Please do not abuse YLH; it is painful to behold, and unseemly to boot. Look at the present pack baying at him, and ask yourself if you want to be of them.

    love begets love, hatred begets hatred

  39. bonobashi

    @karun

    It is your choice, but I believe you can play a major and constructive role if you wish to. At the moment, I don’t see that. I can explain, but people have started complaining that they forget what I wrote at the beginning by the time they come to the end of one of my sentences. Perhaps I should take that as a hint. If you write to me privately, I might contrive to explain without driving everybody away to ATP, which is a lovely site, of course, or to Chowk (aaargh!).

    @Gorki

    I seem to be crossing an invisible line. Calm down, Paji; all offers of marble gewgaws herewith withdrawn. You may choose from the following instead, but give me notice:
    (a) a Moradabad brass plate; (no carpets; they are exorbitantly prices now);
    (b) a Bankura terracotta horse;
    (c) a piece of Bidri-ware (Bidar-i ware);
    (d) a Tamizh kuthuvilakku (only if you can pronounce it without referring to a piece of paper in your lap).

    The kuthuvilakku can be supplied to be suspended from the ceiling or free-standing, as your decor demands.

  40. bonobashi

    @koschan

    Once you refrain from making personal remarks, and start saying sensible things (like your remarks on Delhi, which were obviously sincere), I have no difficulty in acknowledging you and your posts.

    While your style has improved substantially, I am personally pained every time you make a negative personal remark. Why is this necessary?

    Also there has been a lot of adverse comment (off list) about your using your Blackberry in strange locations. Please assure us all that you have never had to retrieve it from unexpected places. We would, I believe, read your posts with greater comfort and equanimity if we were assured that they were not ‘paleet’ (this is a word I have just learnt).

  41. Gorki

    Dear Bonobashi and all others:

    “There are a sort of men whose visages
    Do cream and mantle like a standing pond,
    And do a wilful stillness entertain,
    With purpose to be dress’d in an opinion
    Of wisdom, gravity, profound conceit,
    As who should say ‘I am Sir Oracle,
    And when I ‘ope my lips let no dog bark!”
    (Merchant of Venice; Act I Scene I)

    Once there was a Nihang Sikh standing in a line at a Railway ticket window in Ludhiana with a few people ahead of him. The first guy in line handed his money to the railway clerk and said “One ticket for Patna, please”
    Smack came a tight slap on his face from the Nihang standing a few feet behind him. “Will your tongue burn if you call the holy birthplace of our tenth Guru ‘Patna Sahib?” asked the Nihang. The guy was badly shaken and every one else in the line were appropriately intimidated; the Nihang was a fierce looking Sikh warrior, he had a long spear and no one wanted to mess with him.
    “Where to sir?” asked the clerk of the next passenger in line. The passenger looked at the Nihang and then at the clerk, and said sheepishly “One ticket for Delhi Sahib”.
    Smack came another loud slap from the Nihang; “So now Dilli has become Dilli Saab and Patna Sahib is plain Patna; Wah bhai Wah what new Zamana is this”.
    That passenger slowly collected his turban that had flown off his head, took his ticket and shuffled off to a dark corner to hide his misery.
    “Where to Sir?” asked the clerk again of the third passenger in line.
    By now, everyone had gotten wise. The third passenger was not taking any chances. “Kind sir” he told the clerk, “one ticket to where ever it pleases the Nihang Saab for me to travel to today…”

    So like the passengers in the joke, I am caught between not one but several Nihangs and don’t even know what it is that is expected of me. The essay above was about Karachi and Delhi.
    First koschan commented and then Adam Insan jumped in comparing Delhi to Paris and complimented its recent renovator.
    I gave my two cents worth on the architecture of Paris.
    Then Karun brought in Delhi Rome and Istanbul; again I said OK fine cities all but architecturally I prefer Rome and Istanbul.
    D_A_N joined in with more Istanbul.

    At about this point Bonobashi Da told me how annoyed he was at this back bencher for such a third rate answer; “Please Sir” I said, it was not me but Karun…

    “Enough nonsense already” said the wise sage of Kolkata; Athens has history that no one can match.
    “Kind sir, we were discussing architecture…” I feebly tried again.
    “Quiet said the wise man”

    Then he started on his admittedly spellbinding discourse on classical Athens that was quintessential Bonobashi.
    I admit it was a classic and I enjoyed it in spite of the tongue lashing. ;-).

    So what can I say; Bonobashi knows how to enthrall his audience, and I stand no chance. Besides I have nothing against classical Athens; in fact I too admire these handful of Greeks who gave us such wisdom and summed up an age in a span of less than a hundred years.

    So there Bonobashi Saab, I agree; all Western thinkers nay the World owes a debt to these hardy sailors, thinkers, artists, soldiers and statesmen. Athens is indeed the mother and its men will live on in human memory for eternity. 😉

    Here are some more reasons why.
    Herodotus may have embellished the facts some but none can deny the brilliance of a Miltiades at Marathon where an army that was outnumbered 2:1 feigned a collapse in the middle only to close its flanks around the mass of tightly packed charging Persians to annihilate them in a sudden reversal.

    Themistocles may not have been within the city walls of Athens, technically speaking, (it had been evacuated days earlier) but he was certainly at his career best when he lured the Persian fleet into the narrow bay at Salamis to destroy it with his fast triremes; a naval victory taught millennia later to admirals from the likes of Nelson of Trafalgar to Togo of Tsushima.
    When his fellow admirals met a few days after Salamis to discuss who was most responsible for the victory, they were not a modest lot. When asked to write two names on a tablet, each wrote his name first; however everyone wrote Themistocles as the second most important contributor!

    All school children are now familiar with Leonidas and the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae thanks to the caricature Hollywood movie but to assuage the wise Bonobashi I must also remember the 1,100 Boeotians who formed the part of the rearguard and are rather unfairly forgotten.

    And what about the civilians of Athens?
    With Bonobashi’s permission I too in my mind’s eye can see a throng of young men surrounding that satyr like corruptor of the youth: Socrates. On equally intimate terms with both Pericles, and with the licentious Alcibiades. The austere Euripides, and the master builder Phidias.

    Also in my defense I must add that I was not being dismissive of the Parthenon; far from it, I was paying it a compliment in a backhand way by saying that if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then the Parthenon needs not worry; its flattery is already there for all to see in stone monuments all over the United States.

    What is in fact unfairly ignored, in my opinion are the caryatids on the south porch of the Erechtheum overlooking the Parthenon; an Eastern innovation later copied many times by the Romans.
    Also I was not unmindful of the clever optical illusion of the columns of the Parthenon; only I thought people would be sick of reading of this by now.

    So if it pleases the wise Bonobashi; I am hopefully out of the doghouse by now.

    You graciously offered this former backwoodsman from Ludhiana a replica of the Taj Mahal. Only can I ask you to kindly replace it with a replica of the Parthenon, so that I don’t forget this lesson in a hurry?
    And one last request; just so that I don’t forget the dimensions either, can it be of the same exact dimensions as that cheap replica of the Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee, USA. It would be of a great use to this one chastened dude. 😉
    Regards.

  42. D_a_n

    @bonobashi…Gorki…

    have read a couple of less than flattering references to Ludhiana….and the Lodhi in me must protest…

    no backwoodsman from Ludhiana good Sirs….party animals sounds much more apt as judging by the inebriated state of much of Ibraim Lodhi through much of his reign…im sure Ludhiana was the vegas of it’s time…. 😉

  43. D_a_n

    @bonobashi…

    ‘A paladin, ranking with the great Algerian hero Abdel Kader and Salahuddin. The rest, with the utmost respect to the general after whom you’ve named little Golguppa, are also-rans.’…

    thems fighting words Sir 🙂 …

    I must clarify here…the little one’s namesake is in a very different category than AK and Salahuddin….
    his most famous and important victories came out gunned and outmanned……something that adds to his mastery of his craft…
    and most importantly….he was relieved of his command as his peak…and quietly accepted the commander in chief’s verdict and like a good soldier…’fadded away’…
    I would say McAurther was like him in that way….so the combination of the two……. was irresistable 🙂 a very different flavour…..

  44. karun

    Lahore and Taxila have a much greater claim for different reasons.

    i wonder how do you get away by making such stupid comments. Or you are born to believe that in every damn thing under the sky you need to give India the competition?

  45. Well, the article is not comparing delhi with paris or any other developed world cities.But 3 karachites from pakistan were wondering how Poor india could prosper what they are seeing and what pakistan is lagging…

    Not only delhi most of the other indian state capitals and cities in india are going for metro/MRTS/BRTS and in construction and starting phase.