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Sabz Burj

Mughal wall paintings

Richi Verma, Conservators discover hidden Mughal treasure near Humayun's tomb, June 20, 2018: The Times of India

Conservators have made a stunning discovery on the domed ceiling of the 16th-century Sabz Burj, a Mughal monument near Humayun's tomb: hidden paintings in blue, yellow, red and white, and some even in gold. The conservators, working under the Aga Khan Trust for Culture and Archaeological Survey of India, and experts say this is the first time early 16th century wall paintings have been found on a monument in Delhi.

Sabz Burj (or Green Tower, although the dome is blue on the outside), is among the earliest Mughal buildings influenced by Timurid architecture and richly ornamented with incised plasterwork, glazed ceramic tiles and decorative lattice stonework. Conservation work began in November.

“On the removal of 20thcentury cement and lime-wash layers, remnants of 16th-century painted decorations were discovered on the domed ceiling which would have originally been completely covered with floral paintings with blue, yellow, red, white, and even gold, being the predominant colours,” said an official.

Though traces of wall paintings were visible on the wall surfaces, it was expected that the ceiling would be ornamented with the usual incised lime plaster patterns. But the painted ceiling stunned everyone. “It seems much of the painting was lost due to seepage of rainwater and efforts are under way to ensure it never recurs. Portions of the plastered surface have also fallen away due to structural movement in the building,” said an official.

National and international experts have been roped in by the AKTC-Havells team to advise on methods to remove later layers and surface coating. “Further analysis of the painted pigments will be undertaken before formulating a conservation strategy for the painted ceiling,” an official said.

The project is supported by appliance major Havells as part of its CSR activity.

Sadar Bazar

Qaumi School/ Shahi Eidgah

Mohammad Ibrar, Working under tin roof for 42 yrs, Urdu school risks losing even that, February 27, 2018: The Times of India


The 17th-century Shahi Eidgah in Old Delhi’s Sadar Bazaar is often crowded — not with supplicants assembling for prayers, but with children who turn up daily to study in a school at one corner of the paved ground.

Functioning under battered asbestos roofs and haphazardly assembled rickety furniture, the Qaumi Senior Secondary School has provided for thousands of students in its 42 years at the Eidgah. The only governmentaided Urdu-medium school in the vicinity, it caters to residents of Qasabpura, Quresh Nagar, Bada Hindu Rao and adjoining areas.

The school once functioned from a bustling four-storeyed building, which was razed during the Emergency in 1976. Having weathered all sorts of storms over the years, its existence is now under the threat as the Delhi government is looking to dismantle it and accommodate its students and teachers elsewhere.

Mohammad Shareef (13), son of a daily wager, is a regular to the school. He says: “Though it’s not like any other school, they teach us better here.” Shareef lives near the school, and that’s one of the reasons why his father prefers it. According to Ehsan Ali, a teacher at the school, the biggest challenge the children face here is “the attack of the weather”. He says: “During summer, the asbestos turns the classrooms into furnaces. During winter, it’s too cold without the walls.” Nonetheless, Ali has been associated with the school for 18 years.

Activist Firoz Ahmed Bakht recently filed a petition in Delhi High Court, demanding that the government construct a new building, “as promised when the government of 1976 had levelled the ground where it once stood”. In his PIL filed through advocate Atyab Siddiqui, Bakht contended that children from the “downtrodden and backward classes have to suffer due to threats of closure, makeshift classrooms, leaking roofs and no proper facilities”.

HC is looking into the issue and has asked AAP government and other agencies to explore the possibility of allotting land for the minority school. The matter will come up for hearing again on Tuesday.

While the counsel for the government had assured the court of the keenness to resolve the issue, Bakht isn’t so sure. He argues that as per the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, it is now obligatory for the state to provide land and building for neighbourhood schools. “The government is trying to merge the Urdu-medium school by distributing the students to other schools in the adjoining areas,” he says.

He alleges that on January 17, the Directorate of Education sent a mail to the school principal, Mohabbat Ali, asking him for details of students and employees “to distribute them to other schools”. Ali says such a plan will be disastrous for students. “We have more than 700 students who have been studying here for years now. If allowed and supported, we can modify the existing place and improve it. To send students of an Urdumedium school to that of any other medium will affect their education,” he says.

Siddiqui says the government has maintained that it doesn’t have the land to relocate the school. Even DDA and Delhi Waqf have claimed “sympathies with the students”, but said they have no land. “The only hope for us is HC’s intervention,” Siddiqui says. Bakht believes that if the government shows intent, it can get land from an adjoining park, which “has become a hotbed for nefarious activities and is a favourite haunt of drug-peddlers.”

Nand Di Hatti

Picture courtesy: The Times of India, Sep 12 2015

The Times of India, Sep 12 2015

Sujith Nair  Nand Di Hatti has been drawing generations of Delhiites with lip-smacking chhola-bhaturas

Chhola bhatura -the sight and smell of this sinfully flavour some combination can kill any diet plan. Nand Di Hatti, nestled in the milling lanes of Old Delhi's Sadar Bazaar, is among the best places for a plateful of this spicy delight.This eatery has been drawing generations of Delhiites with its fluffy bhaturas and spiced chickpeas. The shop's secondgeneration owner, 71-year-old Om Prakash, says his father, Nand Lal Makkar, initially sold meetha kulcha and chhola for six annas from a pushcart in Sadar Bazaar. He had moved to Delhi along with his family from Rawalpindi during Partition.

Nand Lal set up the shop in mid-70s and started serving bhaturas instead because Karol Bagh's Bhasin Bakers which supplied meetha kulcha stopped production -it no longer had wo rk e r s s k i l l e d enough to undertake the baking process. “Red in colour, the meetha kulcha is bigger and three times costlier than the normal one,“ says Gajendra Bhasin, the current owner of Bhasin Bakers. His grandfather sold meetha kulcha in Rawalpindi and after Partition set up shop in Karol Bagh.

In the early 90s, Nand Lal's shop was split between his two sons. Om Prakash, the second son, now runs Nand Di Hatti along with his sons, while his nephew, Bharat, 44, sits in the second shop called Nand Bhature Wale Di Hatti.

Made in desi ghee without onion, Nand Lal's chhola bhaturas are served with aloo, chillies and mango pickle.Bharat's day starts at 3am when he starts cooking chana in his kitchen, which he shares with his cous h he shares with his cous ins. The chana, which is not soaked as is the nor m, is cooked with spices over low fire for five hours. Slow cooking, Bharat says, ensures that the chickpea's skin stays intact. Anubhav Sapra, who conducts food walks in the city, says his parents maintain that Nand's chhola bhatura has remained consistently delicious over the last 30 years. “Nand mixes sooji with maida while making the bhaturas. This keeps them light on the tummy,“ says Sapra. Bharat says he tried setting up similar shops in West Dehli's Hari Nagar and Ramesh Nagar, but had to fold up within six months. Om Prakash, too, had to wind up his second outlet in Paharganj within a year.

Both shops also sell chana masala in packets for patrons who want to replicate the magic. Mahesh Khanna, 70, the second-generation owner of Khanna Stationery Mart in Sadar Bazaar, remembers eating Nand's chhola and meetha kulcha in the early 60s. “They used to sell it for 50 paise. Now it costs Rs 90,“ he says.

Food historian Pushpesh Pant says Delhi had a culture of chaats, kulcha and mutter. “Chhola bhatura came in with the refugees during Partition and soon replaced kulcha and mutter from the scene.“

Shahpur Jat

The Times of India, Aug 22 2015

Dharvi Vaid

A village sets trend with style potpourri

Shahpur Jat, an urban village, has a swagger all its own. This stylish retail hub in south Delhi prides itself on its rural atmosphere that only accentuates the cutting edge fashion that it offers to discerning customers Colourful and quirky Shah pur Jat is anachronistic --in reverse. Its dirt lanes are boisterous and redo lent of rural India and yet this village in south Delhi has some of the most modern de signer ware on sale. Abutting the ruins of Alauddin Khilji's medieval Siri Fort Shahpur Jat once used to be an affordable production hub for rookie fashion designers. Today, it has transformed into a popular high-fashion retail area that melds the traditional with the modern. In the heart of the urban village is Jungi House, whose narrow lanes colourfully announce the presence of niche designer labels such as Liz Paul, Rahul and Anushka, Preeti Mohan, Bhumika Grover, Monika and Nidhi, Akshay Wadhwa and Rajat Suri. The wedding season can be a riot here, with lehangas, anarkalis and saris that have newness and flamboyance woven into them. And if it's a foreign look they are contemplating, there are stores like House of Blondie and Les Parisiennes to fulfil their fantasy. Men too can try out the array of fine wedding apparel here, from formals to innovative Indo-Western numbers whose prices can go up to Rs 50,000.

However, it is not only for wedding outfits that the style seekers congregate at this village. Designer Liz Paul says customers come hunting for traditional party wear too. “The best thing about Shahpur Jat is that in a single place you can get everything, and because most of the things on sale are designer pieces, they are unique too,“ she says.

An example of unique is the m e n swe a r at UNIT by Rajat Suri. The de signer has bor rowed the me tallic patterns that have been in vogue in women's fashion for some time and incorporated them rather boldly on solemn blazers and Nehru jackets. “Designers here excel in making boring office wear look stylish,“ quips Suri.

And then there are the jewellery shops. The bling in the showcases blend the old and the new, the tribal and the avant garde. No wonder, the chand balis and jhumkis, the kundan and the polki here are statements in themselves. What is more, if you want any particular piece customized, the stores are more than willing to ensure the glitter is uniquely yours.

“At Preeti Mohan's store you can even get your old watch customized into a beautiful ornament with gems of your liking,“ says Kanika Behl, who regularly shops at Shahpur Jat.“Whether you wear it with a maxi dress or an understated sari, it fits in as an exemplar of style.“ Walk around, and you will also find kitschy de signs incorporated into bedsheets, lampshades, cushion covers and wall hangings.

There is a tangible swagger about the place, perhaps because it is popular among budding designers who are just beginning to experiment with their labels. “Earlier designers only had small fabrication centres here,“ says Gau rav Jagtiani, who has had a produc tion unit in the village for seven years now, “but new designers have set up their retail stores here and are expanding the market.“

The restaurants in the village have joined in the fun with Bohe mian inspiration. “It is a place that is welcoming of all,“ says Sumit Singh, who opened Cafe Red with three other friends, all bankers. “We wanted a place where working people like us could just lounge and relax over a cup of coffee. Shahpur Jat topped our list because it has a very relaxing ambience.“ Like Cafe Red, there are many other theme restaurants that offer cuisines from India and across the world.

“The architecture and the gallies here give you the flavour of rural India,“ points out Jagtiani. “These elements are interpreted by the designers in their work.“ And that is what makes Shahpur Jat a village out of time.


As in 2019

Sidhartha Roy, Shahpur Jat is a rural-urban melting pot: Discover today, October 20, 2019: The Times of India

The two-day ‘Shahpur Jat Autumn Festival’ features heritage walks, fashion shows, folk dances, storytelling, recycling workshops and live band performances
From: Sidhartha Roy, Shahpur Jat is a rural-urban melting pot: Discover today, October 20, 2019: The Times of India


A buzzing café next to a silent 14th century tomb. A century-old haveli just a few feet away from a brightly lit boutique with the best in high fashion on offer. And young fashion designers looking for embroidery material in a narrow lane with a buffalo being milked at the other end. These seemingly disparate worlds, separated by centuries, coexist and merge in absolute harmony in south Delhi’s Shahpur Jat, an urban village that is now a fashion hub.

One of the oldest villages of the city, Shahpur Jat is home to potters, painters, designers, boutiques, NGOs, historical tombs, cafes and many more. Abutting the ruins of Alauddin Khilji’s medieval Siri Fort, this urban village has transformed into a popular high-fashion retail area that melds the traditional with the modern.

“I came here more than 50 years ago after my marriage. Back then, the village was surrounded by fields and we grew cauliflowers, which were sold across the city,” says Risalo Devi, in her seventies, sitting outside her twostorey house. It was during the 1982 Asiad when the villagers sold their land that residential areas, sporting facilities and auditoriums came up. “These shops came up in the past two decades, and a village that was once chiefly known for cauliflowers is now known for fashion. This has brought prosperity to the villagers but everyone has become so busy now,” she rues.

While the boutiques and designer stores have transformed this once sleepy village, the village too has lent its quaint charm to the fashion destination. “It is still very much a village. While there are boutiques on the ground floor, you will find people sitting on muddhas on the upper floors,” says Priyanka Pandey, a designer at the ‘I Am Design’ store. “These two very different worlds live in complete harmony,” she says. Kajal Verma, another designer, recalls that she has been frequenting Shahpur Jat for more than decade as she can source all materials according to her budget from one place, which also houses a large number of skilled artisans.

While Shahpur Jat’s evocatively named narrow lanes — Dada Jungi House lane, Fashion Street, Gora Street — are lined with boutiques offering designer and ethnic wear, the village also houses a number of shops selling accessories, jewellery and embroidery items and is home to hundreds of skilled artisans belonging to West Bengal, Bihar, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh etc. In fact, don’t be surprised if you find shops offering mobile phones, affordable food and haircuts with signboards in Bengali. Shahpur Jat is a melting pot in more ways than one.

Delhi Tourism, in association with Delhi government, has organised the second edition of ‘Shahpur Jat Autumn Festival’. The two-day festival, which was inaugurated on Saturday, features heritage walks, fashion shows, folk dances, painting, calligraphy, storytelling, recycling workshops and live band performances.

“This year, the festival is showcasing the traditional through folk music, dance performances, poets and stand-up comedians with that tangy Haryanvi flavour and fashion through stalls set up by local designers with professional fashion shows showcasing their exquisite designs. Fashion rounds featuring the moustache twirling taus along with their granddaughters will also be seen at the mega fashion show,” explains Greater Kailash MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj, under whose stewardship the first edition of the festival was held last year.

The festival will highlight works of Shahpur Jat designers at a fashion show, followed by the mega finale – a musical concert by Bollywood singer Monali Thakur. Sunday morning will witness a heritage walk by INTACH and there will be a history and market walk by India City Walks in the evening.

Shalimar Bagh

Sheesh Mahal

Sheesh Mahal
Sheesh Mahal

The Times of India 2013/07/04

Sunderwala Mahal. Photo courtesy: Aga Khan Trust. This is a monument in the Nizamuddin area of south-east Delhi.

See the pictures and graphics

Sangam Vihar

2016: Infested with crime

The Times of India, Dec 06 2016

 Most crimes reported from south Delhi are invariably getting linked to juveniles either from Madangir or Sangam Vihar, police claim. For years, Sangam Vihar has been a home to pickpockets, bag-lifters, robbers and extortionists.

Lack of schools and exposure to the vices push the unemployed youths from this resettlement colony into the world of crime. According to the police, 90% of the juvenile criminals belong to these two localities.Sangam Vihar was once dominated by six organised gangs. Following the arrest of the leaders, the gangs disintegrated and some splinter groups emerged. Juveniles from this area often resort to violence at the slightest provocation.

A police officer familiar with the place said that some gangs followed a strict hiring norm. “Before they are employed, teenagers are screened by gang leaders. Many of them are on their payrolls. If someone goes to jail, the gang funds his bail, pays the expenses in jail and also supports his family ,“ the officer added.

Juveniles are preferred because they get lesser sentences, revealed a senior inspector who once worked in the southern range. “Most of them are not known to the police. This is because cops can't maintain their database as law does not permit this,“ the officer said. “Several teenagers find this opportunity attractive because they get cash, clout and identity in return.“

The pattern of crime has changed over the years, said another inspector. “The crimes and the criminals in Sangam Vihar and Madangir have transformed over the years. Earlier, these two areas used to be the hub of pickpockets operating on DTC buses,“ he added. Cops blame poverty , lack of education and social awareness for the rising number of juvenile criminals.

Residents and traders want the problem solved at the earliest. “The criminals disappear when police patrol comes here, but they are are back once the cops are gone,“ said a local trader.

Savda Ghevra

The Times of India, May 28 2016

Savda Talkies, Delhi; Picture courtesy: The Times of India, May 28 2016

Pushed to margins of city, memories their only refuge

AmbikaPandit

Life at SavdaGhevra begins where the Delhi Metro line ends at Mundka station. In many ways, the gap of a kilometre between the colony and the metro line is metaphoric of the fracture between city life and an existence on the outskirts. It has been a decade now since [around 2006, when] 60,000 people left behind the slums in the city and moved to this resettlement colony to begin life anew, but the gap is still to be fully bridged. That is why these days, people trudge along the dusty lanes from GhevraModh to Savda Talkies, where instead of the weekly social-empowerment movies, they relive their own story .

Highlighting the many shades of Savda, drawn from real-life experiences of slumdwellers from across Delhi, the exhibition mounted at Savda Talkies titled “ZameenGharNahinHoti: Savda Key Das Saal“ narrates the tales of families still trying to find their way , though they now have one-room brick houses on plots assigned to them by the government. The story comes alive through items of ordinary use, an 18-year-old plastic box here, a 26-year-old stove there, even some broken bricks salvaged from the rubble of a slum colony that once existed beside modern habitations in Laxmi Nagar, Kakardooma, NanglaMachi, PragatiMaidan, Khan Market area and other places from where this wretched group travelled.

Seemapuri

`Kabad Se Jugad'

The Times of India, Oct 09 2015

Mayank Manohar

`Kabad Se Jugad' in Seemapuri, in the heart of the waste business, has unique start-up which gets good returns

Scrap dealers trash their trade to recycle, make flowers & toys

all you see before you are things that people have thrown away ¬ plastic bottles, varying lengths of electric wires, aluminium cans, metallic bits and pieces, in fact everything you would expect in a scrap market. Not really surprising because New Seemapuri Colony in east Delhi is indeed a hub of the waste business in the capital. But surrounded by this trash, you watch mesmerised as Ali, 26, takes a plastic bottle, lops off its top and then deftly fashions sepals out of the rest. He glues another similarly cut bottle to form the petals and then spray paints them in fluorescent colours before crowning his effort with a bulbous flower head that he adorns with bindis. And there, right before your eyes, you have got the promised flower. The five people seated in the room chuckle at your incredulity .They are members of the Kabad Se Jugad micro collective. The group comprises mostly women, with Ali as the manager.In the three years since they came together to form the scrap start-up, their focus has changed from selling junk by the kilo to wresting waste material into decoratives and toys that fetch handsome prices in a world enamoured of the idea of recycling. “A New York-based artist who goes by the single name of Ronaldo visited our colony in 2012,“ narrates Ali when you ask him how Kabad Se Jugad came about. “He gave us the idea of using scrap to make fancy items, to utilize waste so that it does not pollute the environment.“ Today, the group sells its flowers, toys, tea light holders and junk jewellery not only in India, but also abroad, where the plastic flowers have even been used by eco-conscious women as bridal bouquets.

Ali says that Kabad Se Jugad gets orders from the US, France, Italy and other European countries. “While the foreign business is handled by Ronaldo, in India we put up stalls at fairs and exhibitions,“ he says. The group is regu larly present, for instance, at the capital's popular crafts high spot, Dilli Haat. Sourcing their needs from the scrap stalls all around them, the recycle artists do get good returns for their labour. For instance, making a flower costs around Rs 65, but it sells for Rs 400-500 in India and upwards of Rs 1,500 abroad. But they are not startup millionaires just yet because regular orders are hard to come by . “We sell most of our flowers between Sep tember and February, a period in which most festivals fall. There is little business the rest of the year,“ says Ali. Aasma chimes in with, “We also utilize our warehouse for five months, but pay an en tire year's rent for it. And although we have our own website (kabadsejugad.org), business is not very hot.“ The team also conducts workshops at schools run by foreign embassies on how to recycle discarded stuff creatively . “People from abroad find our work with e-waste interesting, but our own countrymen are not interested.The response in three years hasn't been enthusiastic,“ rues Ali. However, he and his compatriots hold on to the hope that their small contribution to save the environment will one day meet with commercial success.

Shab-e-Barat

See Shab-e-Barat: Delhi

Shamnath Marg

Bungalow no. 33

Manash Gohain, The Times of India Jun 19 2015 DDC gets house where ministers fear to stay


The “unlucky bungalow“--33, Shamnath Marg--which no minister or bureaucrat has ever willfully opted for, was made the headquarters of Delhi Dialogue Commission (DDC).

The building, which had been the residence of the then CM Madan Lal Khurana before the Hawala scam forced him to demit his office, was refused by two other former CMs--Sahib Singh Verma and Sheila Dikshit--apparently due to Vaastu incompatibility .

However, a few like former power secretary Shakti Sinha consider this a great place to stay . He said he “would love to stay there gain“. Rejected by Congress and BJP for many years, AAP government, now finds this a perfect location for holding policy dialogue.

Considered a jinxed location by many , the bungalow was the official residence of the chief minister of Delhi till 19 years ago. Built on a 2,000sq ft plot, the bungalow has been there since the Raj era. The first CM (1952) of Delhi, Chaudhary Brahm Prakash, had lived here for a brief period. However, things didn't “go well“ and he could not complete his term as CM.

Thereafter, the bungalow remained vacant for a long time. In 1993, the building was the residence of former CM Khurana. This was followed by a series of rejections with politicians including Dikshit and many bureaucrats turning it down who considered the house “inauspicious“.

Shiv Vihar

Blue dyes and cancer

Paras Singh, Is blue the colour of death in Delhi's `cancer colony'? , May 17, 2017: The Times of India


The link between Naushad, 22, a dyer at a jeans unit in Shiv Vihar in northeast Delhi, and Alok Rathore, a 16-year-old Class VIII student living in the same neighbourhood, is as yet tenuous. But there are clear hints of a ruinous connect between the young employee of a unit that nonchalantly uses possibly carcinogenic colours to dye jeans for the capital's low-end markets and the student who had to have his right hand severed to prevent a cancer from spreading.

Though no study has been conducted in this Mustafabad locality, locals trace the genesis of the abnormal rate of cancer to toxic chemicals used by the denim dyeing units.

It's impossible to escape the colour blue in Shiv Vihar.Bamboo scaffoldings hold up hundreds of blue jeans to dry as a pungent smell hangs in the air and gutters run inky blue. “Chances are most of the jeans available at Sunday bazars in Delhi have gone via Mustafabad,“ said Naushad with pride. But the means of livelihood for scores of families has a sinister edge for others like Rathore.

Residents depend on borewells and it is quite likely that the acids, dyes and untreated effluents discharged into the drain eventually seep into the groundwater. We know the water is not of good quality but we can't afford to buy bottled water,“ shrugged , resident Raghuwati. Jagadish Pradhan, the area MLA, alleged that the chemicals have led to health problems, which include a significant incidence of cancer. The legislator claimed to have raised the issue in Delhi assembly , but to little avail.

Oncologist P K Julka, former professor at the department of radiotherapy and oncology in AIIMS, revealed that aniline dyes are indeed known to cause cancers. “In Mustafabad, there is no proof yet that seepage into groundwater is behind these problems,“ he said, adding, “The authorities must immediately order a detailed survey and carry out a scientific study of cancer incidence and causes.“

In the two lanes of Shiv Vihar Phase 10 alone, TOI detected two deaths and eight suspected tumour cases. Teenager Rathore is one of them. He no longer goes to school. “It started with a pea-sized lump on his hand 18 months ago. It eventually swelled to the size of a ball,“ said his mother Kamla Devi, a vegetable seller. She spent a hard-earned Rs 2 lakh on his treatment, but his right hand had to be amputated just above the wrist to prevent the cancerous growth from spreading.

The boy is lucky in that two others living in the same lane have died in the past couple of months. One had been diagnosed with blood cancer, the other had cancer of the throat. Anxiety marked Haridevi's face as she held up X-ray plates showing lumps in her breasts. “They are not yet calling it cancer,“ the 50year-old said, but perhaps it was meant to boost her own spirits.

Akash Sharma, whose grandfather also succumbed to cancer, was critical of the government's failure to provide water to the localities in Mustafabad, including Shiv Vihar. “The water tankers do come, but they cannot provide enough water for such a large population,“ he said.

Unlike many residents who resignedly acknowledged “knowing we were drinking slow poison“, Sharma's family uses a reverse osmosis water purifier for the water drawn from the borewell. “The problem is the water is so bad that the filters have to be changed every few weeks,“ revealed Sharma.

Meanwhile, unmindful of the possible health hazard they cause, the dyeing units operate in tin sheds and temporary housings in Shiv Vihar. In the one that TOI visited, there were three gigantic steel drums attached to motors -a handy jugaad that ensures dyeing, washing and softening of the denim at the same place.

“We use `jamuni' the most,“ said Rashid Alam, whose limbs had turned blue through prolonged use of the colour, as he picked up a fistful of powder from a plastic bag with no markings or company branding. “It costs Rs 250 a kilo.“

A typical colouring cycle uses 200g of the dye, mild acids and agents such as sodium hydrosulfite. Jeans tailored in self-help units in Dharampura, Kailash Nagar, Seelampur, Ajeet Nagar and Raghubar Pura are dipped in the metal troughs and once the colour becomes “pakka“, as Alam put it, the jeans are washed with warm water, neutralised by acids and then softened.

While the bright blue jeans are then readied for the bustling market of Gandhi Nagar, the drums pour out the liquids carelessly into the drains.

Sitaram Bazaar

Ram Swarup Halwai

The Times of India, Oct 03 2015

Sitaram Bazar, Delhi; Picture courtesy: The Times of India, Oct 03 2015
Bedmi, Sitaram Bazar, Delhi; Picture courtesy: The Times of India, Oct 03 2015

Sujith Nair

At Sitaram Bazaar, a kingly breakfast awaits you at an old, rustic halwai shop

It's been around for 80 years. And not much has changed in Ram Swarup Halwai, one of Sitaram Bazaar's oldest shops, in all these decades. It still has a rustic air about it. Those lucky enough to stay in its vicinity often turn up for a breakfast of sumptuous bedmi aloo and nagori halwa. For others, it is a two-minute walk from Chawri Bazaar Metro Station. The Mittal brothers who own the shop serve bedmi on dhak tree leaves, which come from Faridabad on vans that transport newspapers.

ith aloo subzi, methi The bedmi comes with aloo subzi, methi chutney , pickled carrot and fresh chilli.This is followed by nagori halwa -mini, crispy suji pooris are punctured and stuffed with ghee-dripping suji halwa; they're ideally eaten the golgappa way .

From 8am to noon, bedmi and suji pooris fly out of the kadhai and are packed along with subzi and halwa as takeaways. Two tables in front of the shop serve customers who have to elbow for space with people brushing past on the street.

The brothers are in their fifties. Anil Kumar, the younger Mittal,is a reluctant talker. Ajit, the elder one, even less so -only gesturing, with a cigarette sticking out of his lips. But with skills that they have inherited from their father, who started as a halwai in Lal Kuan and later set up this shop, it's their dishes that do most of the talking.

Their father Ram Swarup, after whom the shop is named, opened it around the time when Kamala Nehru's family lived in the neighbourhood. Anil says he still remembers a rainy day , in the early '80s, when then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi went past his shop to see her maternal grandparents' house in Dhamani Market.“The road was quite a puddle and you should have seen the scared faces of the nagar nigam officials,“ he says with glee.

Even today, the rains recreate the '80s! Former residents of the area still come from all over the city to buy sweets, specially on Holi and Diwali, Anil says. The brothers have tried their best not to tinker with their fa ther's recipes. The sabzi is still made from unpeeled potatoes. Once, an experiment to use peeled aloos met with howls of protest from regulars and had to be abandoned post haste. However, subzi and nagori are now served in thermocol plates instead of pattal (leaves) to avoid messy leaks.

By noon, work begins on the evening snacks -samosa, kachori and jaleba (larger version of jalebi) -which are served till late in the night. Between them, the brothers manage the shop from morning till night. With their kids moving on to other vocations, Anil seems unsure about who would carry on the legacy of their father.

South extension

Coaching centres

The Times of India, Mar 10 2016

Mayank Manohar

The students come on bikes and instead of attending classes, loiter around harassing women or getting involved in fights, says an exasperated Deepak Mehra.This resident of South Extension in south Delhi says that he and others living in Block H there face security problems because of the presence of so many outsiders. Among many others, South Extension too is a hub of coaching classes in the capital. Around a hundred institutes are crowded along the colony's streets. “Every lane is crammed with paying guest accommodations and eateries that cause massive traffic congestion.On occasion, residents have to spend 30 minutes trying to reach the main road, which is hardly five minutes away ,“ says Harish Malik, president of the South Extension Part I residents' welfare association.“The institutions operate in batches, so finding a parking spot outside our own house is almost impossible. We have complained several times to the South Corporation but nothing happened.“

Indeed, people who visit the place will talk of how difficult it is to drive in the area or find a slot for their vehicles.That is why many hope that things will finally change after the Supreme Court declared on Tuesday that coaching centres in residential areas were a nuisance to women and the elderly and had to shift to commercial premises or institutional areas. But will it be so easy? “We have filed numerous petitions in the Delhi high court, to no avail,“ grumbles Shyam Arora, a resident of the colony. “In fact, in 2012 when we filed our first petition, there were around 55 coaching institutions.This number has grown twofold now.“ According to the provisions of Master Plan of Delhi 2021, the minimum right of way (ROW) required to run a coaching institute in residential area ranges between 9 metres and 18 metres for Aand B-category colonies. However, in South Extension Part I, which is a B-category colony , several lanes with ROW less than 9 metres have been allowed to house coaching institutes, complain residents. Senior officials from South Delhi Municipal Corporation, however, maintain that coaching centres are allowed not only under the ROW provision of the Master Plan, but also in residential colonies that have been developed prior to 1962. “South Extension was developed prior to 1962,“ insists a senior corporation offi cial. “After the court's order we have inspected the area and we didn't find any institute that is running illegally for us initiate any action.“

However, South Extension Part I's pre-1962 history, as claimed by the municipal corporation, is refuted by the colony's inhabitants. “According to the records available in Town Planning Department, the completion plan of South Extension I was approved in 1965,“ says Suneel, an advocate and resident.

“And according to the minutes of the meeting of a committee involving chief town planner of South Corporation, South Extension is not included in the list of pre-1962 colonies. This means the municipal corporation is not taking appropriate action against the coaching institutes.“

Perhaps in due course, proper scrutiny will be done and the facts established. Till then, however, the residents of what was meant to be a residential colony will have to bear with the buzzing commercialism of the times.

Sultanpur

The Times of India, Oct 13 2015

Village chaupal, Sultanpur, Delhi; Picture courtesy: The Times of India, Oct 13 2015
Sultanpur, Delhi; Picture courtesy: The Times of India, Oct 13 2015

Risha Chitlangia

Sultanpur - Hungry for rent, Sultanpur swallowed whole by tenants  Every afternoon, the elders of Sultanpur village in southwest Delhi sit down to play cards in their chaupal.In the evening, children play games in the space around the 1930s-era building. “Our fields are gone; there are no parks or open spaces left in the village,“ rues Dharamvir, an old-timer. Change has come to Sultanpur rather suddenly .The village was late to commercialize, but in the past few years it has single-mindedly chased rent--hemming itself in between showrooms and a residential colony .

One of Delhi's older villages, Sultan pur is advanta geously lo cated on the Me hrauli-Gurgaon Road. It started commercializing around the same time as Ghitorni but remained an also-ran until a few years ago when it became a magnet for high-end home furnishing brands and the production units-cum-studios of designers. Many farmhouses have also been built in the village.

Drawn by its cheaper rents, many home furnishing and designer brands relocated to Sultanpur from Saidul-Ajaib near Saket. “It is cheaper and we got a bigger space,“ said an employee of a furnishing brand. Offices of NGOs and corporates have also moved to Sultanpur.

The colony at the back draws people w h o w o r k in Gur gaon but can't afford to live there. “The rent is cheap and going from Sultanpur to Gurgaon by Metro takes hardly 15-20 minutes,“ said Sameer Singh, who works in Gurgaon.

Surrounded by swank multi-storey buildings, Sultanpur today is a village facing an identity crisis.Villagers like to do things the old community-centric way . Religious functions, wedding celebrations and condolence meetings are held at the chaupal. But with the open spaces gone and the infrastructure crumbling, many old families are selling out. “The front and the back of the village get all the facilities. No one listens to us.Sewers overflow and taps remain dry . We have to use pumps. This wasn't the case till a few years ago,“ said Tejpal, a village elder.

The village's roads are congested as the colony at the back uses the same en try . “If there's a fire, there is no alternative route for fire tenders,“ said Chohal Singh, a retired school teacher.

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