Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Shahnaz Husain's Capital - Yesterday Tehran, Today Delhi

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Shahnaz Husain's Capital - Yesterday Tehran, Today Delhi

India's most famous beauty expert copes with the whims of an evolving city.

[By Shahnaz Husain; the author's picture was taken during 1971]

I was born in Hyderabad, married in Lucknow, moved to Tehran, came to Delhi and then never left the city.

During my early years in the city, in the 70s, Delhi was less cosmopolitan than Tehran. The capital of the Shah of Iran was the city of tomorrow. Ice skating and bowling became popular in Delhi only during the 90s; Tehran was buzzing with them 20 years ago.

The women there dressed in the latest French style — but underneath an abaya. Still, they managed to attract onlookers with their enchanting kohl-lined eyes. However, public display of affection and free mingling of men and women were not encouraged in Iran, just as it was in Delhi.

In Tehran, I loved visiting Shemiran, the royal family’s summer residence, on the slopes of Alburz mountains. With trimmed gardens and elegant mansions, the district was an address of Iran’s elite.

Buzurg, the city’s most popular bazaar, was lined with shops stacked with turquoise jewellery and delicately embroidered fabrics. In Delhi, I never missed Buzurg; there was always Chandni Chowk.

However, today’s Delhi is nothing like it was in the 70s. There were more trees then, and I do not remember Blueline buses. We had tongas on which I would go to India Gate with children, all of us nibbling on bhooni hui garma garam moongfali. We would ride on them on our way to see films in Golcha and Sheila, and to have kebabs and coffee in CP — for just Rs 10.

These were our little pleasures which today’s generation can never have. Now, poolside hotel parties have replaced living room mehfils. The warmth of the shopkeepers has given way to the anonymity of shop assistants in imposing malls.

But Delhi continues to throb with vitality and excitement. Old times might be dying but I’m able to enjoy myself in the promises of the new era. Earlier, I adored the chicken tikkas served at the Café Purani Dilli in Chanakyapuri. It shut down. Now there’s Barista. I have a special liking for it. I go there daily with family and friends. I even have staff meetings there. Sometimes I ask my staff to bring their families in the café and we all have a good time.

While I do miss the personal touch of old markets, Saket’s Select City Walk mall has become my favourite shopping destination.

However, in these changing times, one thing has remained contant — Greater Kailash. I may have changed houses, changed blocks, but I’ve never changed this neighbourhood. GK is home.

The author is one of the country’s biggest beauty experts and entrepreneurs.

14 comments:

Sanaullah Majeed said...

Sorry very unimpressive article & quite an elite blabbering of Delhi. Hope the kebobs taste good while the hungry of Delhi can only dream of writing on this blog. Chee.

Madam, please, look around outside your nostalgia.

Elsavior said...

I agree with sanaullah...this was pointless.

Anonymous said...

I'm hoping Ms Husain will take a look at this, because there's something that I should convey to her and to the people who she says go to the Select Citywalk Mall to confer/socialise with her at the Barista outlet there. Madam, has nobody in your illustrious life ever taught you not to block entire escalators for minutes at a stretch, just discussing with your entourage of sixty seven what appear to be metaphors on the weather??????

Hero Hiralal said...

Madam, kaun si dilli mein rehti hein aap? The warmth (or the wrath) of the shopkeepers still remains aplenty, as do the garam moongfali and the gardens of India Gate. And as for your complaints of ten rupee meals, would you please study about inflation, or just compare your own income from twenty years ago to now. Zara GK se baahar nikal ke dekhiye, dilli mein aaj bhi wahi josh hai, or usey aaj ki generation bhi utna hi enjoy karti hai.

Za'eem Shujaat said...

Can't believe this post even was printed. I guess,madam, if you come outside your elitist life and see the Delhi, you will find all that you say is amiss. I am sure the world 20/30/40/50 years ago had its charm but we human evolve with time and seeing the global poverty as its peak, I can hardly sit and complain about moongfalis not served the way you remember it,the concentration should be in eradicating hard-core issues faced in Delhi and less worry about the apetite that once was pleasurable.
I'm very very disappointed that a person in your position chooses to wear blindfolds.

Anonymous said...

Madam ji, Agar aap AC se bahar niklengi to Dilli abhi bhi waisi hi Dil walon ki hai jaisi 70 mein thi. Infrastructure development doesn't mean you don't get "garmagram bhuni hui moongfali" anymore.

VK said...

can't believe blogosphere is turning so hostile...

everyone has an advice for somebody else but nothing tht they can do themselves...

and what is with being anti-elitist? is it the latest fad?

garam beni said...

I generally stay away from commenting on comments, but the sheer energy of the attack on Shahnaz(and in extension, this blog) is rather strange.

Here's a lady who clearly loves the city, and has written (or narrated) a nice, warm account of her life in a fast changing place.

I grew up n Karol Bagh, and living elsewhere as I do now, I still feel nothing beats it. Many would scoff at the congested streets and the tacky hotels...but I love it. Will do so forever. Why? Its home. Just like GK is for Ms Husain...

Why have we become so judgmental?

Nadeem Saba said...

Garam Beni, you have commented on comments before, yet, always seem to think you are so righteous about everything you think it to be correct. Everyone is entitled to theur views. Read your comments on other articles on this blog and THEN tell people what to do or not. It is a blog and people have their view. Personally, this article means nothing to me. Yes, I belong to the world of riches and I know Shahnaz Rather well. It is not an attck on the elitist but a view that is important to share. Why Not? Why, Garam Beni, do you think it is of no use to share critical views? What is frustrating is when people block peoples views because THEY think it it to be correct.

This is a great blog. I grew up in the Delhi that Shahnaz talks of but I'm also aware that times have changed. The world over has changed, what is so superior of Delhi not changing with time?

Didn't enjoy the article but do like the style and writing of Soofi. What a great young man, he should follow his own style and flourish.

VK, how do you know what others are doing or not doing? Surely, you wouldn't know what small or big differences people make. So, there is hostility, isn't it there when you have read a book or seen a film and did not enjoy it much? Only that your critical analysis would never reach the author or director of a film...very seldom do THEY pay attention. But, here is a blog that opens perceptions and we all can share our thoughts - negative and postive. No need to censor views.

Nadeem Saba

Anonymous said...

Garam Beni is right. Must we all live all our lives in St. John's Wood and donate to charity in order to feel good about ourselves? Can't one just simply be nostalgic about what one perceives as having changed over the years?
The woman still stuffs an escalator though:(.

Za'eem Shujaat said...

LOL. Garam's comment makes me laugh. what is "strange" about not liking what I read? LOL. Or do we clone each other?

Arun said...

who is she? okay a beauty expert, but why so much importance on her?? C'mon aren't there people in our country who deserve to be reviewed than a "beauty expert"? BAH! Eating kebobs, crowding elevators, blah blah blah......... IT IS VERY SHALLOW .... NOTHING APART THAN VISITING MEMORY LANE. But at least, Soofi, get some person who has a great standing and India can be proud of. Hellooooooooo is someone listening?

Arun

Anonymous said...

this lady is a useless chunk , there are more better people than her who knows delhi . i completely agree with sanaullah majeed .

Anonymous said...

perhaps you would like to go back to Tehran