Thursday, May 08, 2008

Opinion - What's Wrong with The Delhi Walla?

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Window View - Is That Me?

This blogsite has lost its focus.

[Text by Shaheen Sultan Dhanji; picture by Mayank Austen Soofi]

What has become of The Delhi Walla? Last few weeks, I have had the desire, more than once, to deviate from opening the blog. It has become, simply, drivel.

This is suppose to be THE blog of Delhi and all I seem to be chancing upon is a plethora of articles honouring tombs and shrines and anything "dead". Why is The Delhi Walla tempting the readers with such vehement torture of lamenting, each week?

The Delhi I have casually but tempestuosly imagined to be (thanks to Raza Rumi's recent gratifying travelogue of Delhi - a city I have never visited) is suppose to be vibrant, echoing with all kinds of complexities, oddities, colourful events, historical sites-- and all I seem to be reading recently is redundant stories on tombs, of no doubt beautiful saints however.

Why not keep the standards on a neutral zone? Why not a melange of various subjects that aspires for a more complete flavour of Delhi. It is utmost crucial for this blogsite to have the semblance of the blog as an "addictive" site, where people like myself, who live in the West, can look forward to spend a few moments literally "living" in Delhi.

It was not too long ago, on a rather bitter-cold November winter night in Toronto, that I discovered The Delhi Walla. The blog gaged a sprightly interest in me - an array of beautifully provocative photo-essays mingled with an equal prowess of the writer's penship. I had found my sanctity for the cold winter nights, and the fascination to further my interest in Delhi was becoming charmingly obsessive!

Being a visual artist, the Mughul art has always inspired the passion to learn more, and it is in Delhi where one can trace the historical context. Thus it would be an absolute thrill for the raconteur of The Delhi Walla to engage his readership to a higher altitude of the Delhi.

But, of course, this blog has indeed talked about artists I admire. Writers like Arundhati Roy (loved her Power Politics), Sadia Dehlvi, Khushwant Singh are an absolute euphoria to read. Classical Thumri singer and writer, Vidya Rao, is yet another glee to read on. They all can be seen in The Delhi Walla.

But my point is that there is Delhi beyond Arundhati Roy. The city has abundance of writers, performing artists, poets, and political social activists. Delhi is full of temples, masjids, Buddhist art, and so on. Why not capture and document that vast diversity of Delhi?

In order to survive, this blogside must transfuse the energy back to the vein. Regular readers like me do not wish to be greeted by lackadaisical stories of the recent serial. The essence of having a remarkable blog, and naming it The Delhi Walla, should make it obligatory to reflect Delhi in entirety. Next interlude, please.


PR said...

I would like to back up the comments made in the above article. The articles i read a few months ago always used to make me wonder and be excited for Delhi. The last month or so have been so, although as mentioned there were great moments, but fewer and far in between.
Good luck.

Prabhu Rai said...

I had to use dictionary few times to undestand some words and if the writer notices the topic of the blog it says, DELHI WALLA , CITY OF TOMBS, ARUNDHATI ROY AND OTHER ARTISTS. What is wrong woith the delhi walla if that is what the blog is about? I don't know i'm passing by from Kerala and don't live in Delhi thank God its pulluted isn't? maybe the writer should write about pullution in big cities.

Anonymous said...

It would do no harm either to remove to an extent the rather great burden of Islamist sympathies from the blog. One should imagine a blog like this to reflect the (when all's s and d) secular character of Delhi as a city, not just these tombs and Mogul Old Delhi and Urdu texts. Simply put, that makes the author and me at least two people who like this blog, are regulars, but have now said, albeit for different reasons, that it isn't keeping the addictive compulsive trait alive.

namya said...

I would agree with anonymous. The blog is great but needs to be secular. Why dont we see anything on Hindus or CHristians or other communities and their plights. Its not just the muslims who are having a hard time in this country. What about the temples of the city?

Vipul Khosla said...

"All I seem to be chancing upon is a plethora of articles honouring tombs and shrines and anything "dead". Why is The Delhi Walla tempting the readers with such vehement torture of lamenting, each week?"

"Being a visual artist, the Mughul art has always inspired the passion to learn more, and it is in Delhi where one can trace the historical context. Thus it would be an absolute thrill for the raconteur of The Delhi Walla to engage his readership to a higher altitude of the Delhi."

I found the two quotes rather contradictory. The issue of neutrality I have not much to say about because everything eventually is valued laden in one way or the other. While Delhi is about art and history which one may seek to learn about, history is always about the dead. In fact it is in this eclectic mix of the high and elite and ordinary and mundane that the very essence of Delhi lies. Just to see one bit without the other is rather absurd. Absurd because that is what we are so used to seeing otherwise and that is why the blog is unique.

Higher altitude of the Delhi, high culture of elitism, of authors and arts has always been there. But post modernism is not about culture being high. It is about culture being ordinary. That has been what has attracted me to keep reading the blog and to each his own. I don't read the blog looking for critiques of art or mughal architecture or to read about the authors. There is so much of it in the mainstream already. It is inn fact in the crevices of the city that the hidden secrets and little known facts lie which the blog brings out is what is enjoyable.

Anyway I guess opinions can differ and must differ but eventually it is not just what is manifested but the motivation and purpose underneath that matter. As long as that remains true to its core there isn't much to bother about.

My only regret is the blogger's obsession with Ms Roy but am not complaining. lolz

Manavi Bakshi said...

I don't think Shaheen's saying to concentrate on Islam, Hindu or Christian emphasis or to go secular. Why must we be always looking for a particular way to follow? It's simply to look at Delhi overall and find common things we all benefit from. But yes agreed that some favour goes to specific topics. I'm not suprised Ms. Shaheen didn't suggest the politics, afterall, looks like the author of this article "loves Power Politics" of Ms. Arundhati Roy and fact is Shaheen also politically active.

We all recommend different topics and Mayank Austen Soofi can have additional topics to give it a shot.

Prabhu, if Delhi's pollution is so horrible, why don't you do something active rather than be passive passerby ranting?

My topic of interest is globalization and the youth of Delhi. Where are we all heading?

Thanks Mayank Soofi for braving this article and being a gentleman to appreciate our comments, it just proves your devotion to your blog. Good luck to Ms. Shaheen Sultan Dhanji.

Manavi Bakshi

VK said...

i just find it a little hard to believe that the so called 'secularists' are giving all of this a religious tones.

guys wake up. it is a blog and the blogger has every right to his opinion.

Does the blogger claim in anyway to be representative and fulfilling all your claims for the city? He sees it his way and says it his way. Also i fail to understand the rights that everyone seems to be exercising about what 'the delhi walla' should be all about. lets remember, all we do is read it cos we see some value in it and we do it for FREE and yet we claim and expect as if it was the moral obligation of the blogger to fulfill our expectation. it is nothing but a way to discourage someone for his own endeavours driven by his own passion.

I agree completely with what prabhu says.

I appreciate and even applause the blogger for bringing this discussion to the surface.

Mr. U. Jayakar said...


Interesting to read the broad comments and some suggestions. A city like Delhi is very rich in culture and in history. the differentiation, or comparison is not in history vs modernity but to remain open in communication both sides. It's good to differ in thinking, imagine if we were all same thinkers, we all would look alike and dress alike. Conformity.

The Delhi Walla is a good blog. I'm not a historian, just a humble retired oldie. Personally, I would like to read a variety of topics on Delhi. History is important but obsession with it is also dangerous. Does not permit to look at the present or future if we were to keep looking back.

The blog is unique but if we were all to remain mesmerised by everything historical, who looks at the ugly and marvellous present day Delhi? Writers, Artists, so forth are the backbone of the society because it is with their vision we can give voice to something that just remains stale topic but effects many lives. To suggest that a little change of direction of the blog is a great thing and no one is suggesting to totally remove history or the "dead" personalities of time. Let's just give room to both old and current stories. The author may be contradictory by flirting with the charms of Mughal art because she is an visual artist but the article is fair in suggesting, let's look at "other" attractions of this magnificent city.

Both the Author and owner of this site have a fascination to Roy's work.

To Vipul, I agree there is lots in the mainstream as your comment. The impression I got from reading this article and also many other articles on the same site, is that there is a little more of something than other topics. We must look at all pockets of Delhi. From the people who lay next to the sewage to the top absurd management of our government. We all should look at Delhi truthfully and not in some high tinted sunglasses.

I do like the blog but I do have the right to enjoy a good read. This blog is losing it's focus but is aware and I for one will give it a chance.


Shaheen Sultan Dhanji said...

Thanks to all for the comments...

With the teeming diversity of civilisations in Delhi's history, no doubt, one cannot avoid reflecting between past and present with a kaleidoscope of cultural entities. I am cognizant of this fact. The monuments, tombs, temples, masjids and palaces have been beautifully explained by The Delhi Walla. Cultural and heritage preservation is of utmost importance, surely, this site has the vertabrae of keeping and revoking the importance. Highly appreciated for the vast knowledge and a chest of treasured archived articles. My review is not about brushing aside the historical context. Never. Just a little more analysis of Delhi.

With The Delhi Walla's unique components on this blog, it would be even more enriching if various subjects of Delhi were explored and documented. A slant be given to bring a combination of narrative delights with social, economical, and cultural analysis. Topics of theology, Arts, Geolology, botany, civics, architecture (traditional and contemporary), archaeology, environment, ecology, politics, and other disciplines. Of course, as mentioned in my review, I am a visual artist, so without sounding "contradictory", I shall remain passionate about the Asia diffusion of culture - Islamic, Mughal and even of the Harappan world c3000-1700 BC. Architecture and sculptures so beautiful have sometimes been hijacked. (not by The Delhi Walla, in general).

This blog is meaningful in many ways....It has the flare to be the "voice" of Delhi - in entirety. It already serves a finer way in the deliverance of the photo-essays. This is the blog, shall be the platform for a thorough research for any persons not residing in Delhi, like myself, who can easily navigate The Delhi Walla and grasp the charming city with also its so-not-charming issues.


murli said...

Okay if shaheen sultan is looking for a scholastic blog, it's not here.


Sudhir said...

To VK,

You're right it is FREE to read and also FREE for people to get blogged onto another site. What if people are expressing their views? The fact that the blog is called " THE DELHI WALLA" is good enough reason for the rest of us to defend our DILLI to the people living outside of DELHI. If Murli above is having a hard time with words he/she is free to consult another lesser comprehensive site. I liked Jayakar's response. The author has SUGGESTED a small fraction of more of Delhi since it's mentioned she's never visited. Why dillute her or other's perception of ALL OF DELHI. Also as a reader, I would think that the title of this blog should really talk about Delhi. I see "should" because if he doesn't, he is not focusing on the real things in Delhi and just his own interests than I would suggest he titles the blog "Mayank Austen Soofi's journal". Not Delhi Walla.


Sudhir said...

My apology to Murli, I meant PRABHU in my response to VK and in general.
Just went thru Raza Rumi's travelogue and it's very knowlegeable. Now why couldn't we expect that from our own Delhi Walla but a Pakistani ( i mean in a welcoming way)visiting picked up the bundle of places and shared. I'm not being malicious if seem it but like everyone else I too believe in the blogger and these comments aren't to demoralise his passions but to bring out his hidden potentials. I'm outta here to Bangkok in 2 hours. Good luck to all.


Anonymous said...

Typical, hain na? By the way, Mayank Austen, you could've said you weren't going to use my rave review the last time. I see that would've done something for variety on your blog.
Also, re the books, keep them you cheapie.
I did enjoy visiting the Nizamuddin thing with you though.

PR said...

I love how a negative comment got so many of your readers to comment (including myself).
As to the content, i would like to take the opportunity to say that the articles i like most are about subjects your are really passionate about. The articles that are on surface very banal but then you get your own unique perspective to make them special.
On being secular - in its true spirit is about letting others pursue their faiths without being judgmental. Please write about things that you are passionate about, and if it all is about a particular faith or belief, be so it, but please make it your own and share with us your unique way of looking at Delhi in its splendors as well as its horrors.

Looking forward to your next post.

F.G said...

Prabhu's comment is -- dictionary and pollution. By the way, which is the best dictionary? So many out there.

Shaheen: Good that you have stated your concern for one of the thousands of blogs out there, but why not concentrate on your art and articles, rather than revamping this site? Personally, I'm surprised you even initiated a review, but, this blog must mean something to you for so much importance to be given. Though, well written.

Equally, Mayank, reading the comments, your site is valued for the thoughts to keep running. The impression is of "variety" that is being requested and not for you to take off your own ideas. I know Shaheen well enough to say, she is not suggesting secularist blog. After all said and done, it is your blog and you're the driver!

The photography is super nice.

Kind regards,

Karim said...

Think Shaheen is trying to turn the blog to socialism and marxist. She lives in all riches in Canada but thats nothing to do with this. Mayank,your doing good with your blog & if other wanna change let them create their own blogs. Your a good sufi.



Anonymous said...

No matter how well the feedback is appreciated by everyone, there's an agenda, an opinion that always directs the perceptions of people. That is what makes them individuals!
Whats wrong with someone following an agenda - the very reason why there are conservatives/liberals in Canada or leftist/centrist/rightist everywhere in this world. It's their opinion, its their way of presenting thoughts...

Its like enforcing someone to cater to your needs. Sounded like you want someone to feed to your nostalgia about the country you left, so that you get to hear about whats happening, or take a trip down streets of delhi through an array of beautifully provocative photo-essays.

Well naming it Delhi walla doesnt make it ''THE blog of Delhi''. Maybe you're opinion should be forwarded to Ministry of Tourism, India which could present neutral views about not just delhi but other such vibrant cities as well, and not just run advertisements on Canadian television titled 'Incredible India' - showing cleverly edited pictures of India which it strives to be but is noway close!

Arun Seth said...

Who cares about what The Delhi Walla does? It's just another blog from the standard it shows. A juvenille type of presentation. Afterall, what else can the outsider expect when the such bloggers are juvenille. Read up how juvenille the article on Khushwant Singh. Shows Soofi needs some grooming with meeting prolific folks.

By the way, I live in India and what a shame for the way we present ourselves. No kidding why outsiders have narrow opinions on us. The author Shaheen is Pakistani, so I don't blame her perception of what she has been reading on The Delhi Walla, plus wasting her time bothering to suggest any changes.


Garam Beni said...

arre har waqt faaltu ki analysis mein lag jaate hain aap sab !!

jo bhi kahiye, lekin hai kamaal ka yeh blog. Aur ye to apni pasand ka hi likhenge na?

Mayank khubsurat likhte hain, inki nazar bhi baaki tamaam bloggers se hat ke hai. Aisi cheezon par gaur katte hain jinhe dusri dafa dekhte tak nehi hain hum. inhe likhne dijiye aap sab....

Anonymous said...

huh? wouldn't surprise me if the next comment on here were to be in hungarian. someone please translate so we can keep the bitching going.

Mr. U.Jayakar said...

It's quite a shame one gets slammed for opinions. YES, we are a pride nation to take criticism rationally. No one doubts it's a great site but seems one cannot express a view. Sorry, Shaheen ji, you took time to advice on an attempt for betterment. Indians have pride to admit for constructive change.

Garam Beni "faatlu ki analysis", is a rather distasteful to say, one was giving an opinion not attacking Mayank Soofi. What is the point of writing a blog if others cannot share or give opinions? When one writes anything for public, one takes a chance in all aspects.

Sanaullah Majeed said...

LOL. Some of the comments are hillarious. The Author is obviously is a foreigner from Canada (Re:comment from Karim) and not visited Delhi, so it seems. Why doesn't she make the effort to travel abroad, she "lives in all riches", maybe, Karim is her banker and a trip across is advisable to draw conclusions of Delhi. And if a socilaist, ok comrade, what are you doing with all the wealth? Maybe, Soofi's photographs of downtrodden can empty your pockets? Just a thought na

FG said...

Sanaullah, come on, no need to be so catty! So, she makes good money in Canada, don't Indians make obscene money in India? Besides, why should a Canadian come and clean up the act of India's "downtrodden" as you say? I think her opinion on the blog is fair. I think Karim's comment is rather senseless and doesn't give the idea of anything valid. But he is entitled to his opinion as is anyone else.

The blog has improved a lot and continues to enrich us in many ways. The problem with the comments above is, people are not looking into the content of the review but are getting lost in each others comments. Let's get constructive and not catty.


Preetam said...

Shaheen Sultan Dhanji is hot
Mayank Soofi is hot
This blog is hot

I've made my point.


Shaista said...

LOL Preetam. Methinks she is committed, wears a diamond on the lefty! What a nice personality she is!


Anonymous said...

I believe Mayank is an artist and is free to write whatever he chooses to. I dont see why people have to be so judgmental. Mayank has no obligations towards anyone. Mayank, honey, do what you want!

Sudhir said...

Anyone, what is "Garam Beni" saying?

Was going thru Shaheen's articles and picked this one. The comments are funny!

I know Shaheen well enough and "Sanuallah" is just commenting for the sake of commenting. She is a woman of substance and a freedom fighter for the oppressed.

Jai Hind!