Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Guest Column – The Delhi Walla is Fake

The Delhi walla's pretension in writing makes me want to lodge a bullet in his balls - Blogger Nimpipi, the woodchuck chucks
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The Delhi Walla is Fake

This blogsite presents an incomplete Delhi and stereotype the Muslims.

[Text by Sushant; picture by Mayank Austen Soofi]

I have been following The Delhi Walla for a long time. The blogger Mayank Austen Soofi has painted Delhi as a city of hermits, mystics, tombs, dargahs, Ghalib, graveyards, eunuchs, ghettos, sufi saints and other historical memoarabilia. It’s refreshing and informative to read about so many little wonders that we have in Delhi, that most of us usually ignore in our robotic lives of today.

But why does Mayank portray Delhi as a predominantly Islamic city, that too a regressive one? Are all Delhi Muslims skull-capped, bearded, shalvar-kurta-clad, ghetto-living people? Isn't this blogger aware that many of them have moved with time and are as progressive as any Westerner?

The Delhi of today is a melting pot of various religions, cultures, creeds, ethnicities, socio-economic backgrounds and also nationalities.

Delhi is not just about the Muslim community living in the Walled City, Nizamuddin Basti, Seelampur and Jamia Nagar.

Delhi is also about the Punjabis of Lajpat Nagar, Pitampura, Karol Bagh, Kalkaji and Greatet Kailash; the Sikhs of Rajouri Garden, Paschim Vihar and Hargobind Enclave; the Bengalis of Chittaranjan Park; the Sindhis of Mayfair Gardens; the Kashmiris of Pamposh Colony; the Malyaalis of RK Puram; the Tamilians of Mayur Vihar Phase–I; the Gujjars of Badarpur and Rajokri; the small-town students of North Campus; the expat community of Chanakyapuri; the firang tourists of Paharganj; the super rich of Vasant Vihar, Defence Colony, Sainik Farms, Panchsheel Park and Prithvi Raj Road; the pirated DVD sellers of Palika Baazar and Nehru Place; the BPO population of Malviya Nagar, Satya Niketan and Khirki.

As a self-proclaimed Delhi Walla, why has Mayank never written about them?

Jama Masjid and Nizam-ud-din Dargah aren't the only holy places in the city. There are also Bangla Saheb, Sis Ganj Sahib and Moti Bagh Gurudwaras, the Dar-e-Meher (Delhi's Only Parsi Fire Temple), Laddakh Buddha Vihar near Red Fort, St. James Church and Sacred Heart Cathedral and, of course, the Lakshmi Narayan Mandir, Hanuman Mandir of Baba Kharak Singh Marg, Jhandewaala Mandir, Maata Ka Mandir of New Friends Colony, the Akshardham Mandir and the Chattarpur Mandir.

As a self-proclaimed Delhi Walla, why has Mayank never written about them?

Food in Delhi is not just about the nahris, kormas and biryanis of Jama Masjid area. It’s also about the chhole bhature of Chachas in Kamla Nagar, the dosas of Sagar Ratna, the pastries of Wengers, the kathi rolls of Nizams, the mughlai parathas and chops of CR Park, the tandoori chicken of Galina, the chicken tikka masala of Moti Mahal, the various chaats and parathas of Chandni Chowk, the shawarmas of New Friends Colony, the hot chocolate fudge of Nirulas and,above all, the dal makhani of Bukhara.

As a self-proclaimed Delhi Walla, why has Mayank never written about them?

Instead of celebrating Delhi's diversity, Mayank projects the Capital as an underdeveloped city of a certain not-so-prosperous religious community.

I guess either The Delhi Walla is deliberately doing this, or he is a fake Delhi walla.

While Mayank constantly updated us with the goings on during the Ramzan, finally leading up to Eid (complete with some excellent pictures), I never find him talking about the various other festivals that are celebrated in Delhi by a lot more people.

He never wrote about Janmashtami; he hardly covered the Durga Puja pandals and Dussehra, and nothing about Pongal and Onam. No Easter and Christmas and no Baisakhi and Gurupurab, either.

I’m writing this piece on Diwali eve and what has agitated me the most is that Mayank’s latest piece is not on this festival, but again about a Muslim ghetto. What Ganesh Chathurthi is to Mumbai and Durga Puja is to Kolkata, Diwali is to Delhi. It would have been great to get something from Mayank on Diwali. His writing is good.

However, if Mayank loves Muslims, why not write about those progressive Muslims who have made Delhi proud: Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, sufi singer Zila Khan, sitar player Shujaat Khan, fashion designer Nida Mahmood, cultural colossus Muzaffar Ali, theater maestro Aamir Raza Hussain, disability activist Javed Abidi and Bollywood icon Shah Rukh Khan.

Instead, in this blogsite, Mayank stereotype the Muslims as hapless and medieval people, not as those who helped made the city an enigma it is.

I wish The Delhi Walla finally starts chronicling all that that makes Delhi one of the world's greatest cosmopolitan cities.

[The article has been partially edited for clarity's sake]

20 comments:

Abdusalaam said...

Sushant, you've put forward the question, but what is the answer? Why do you think he does all you say he does? Why does Mayank focus so much on "stereotypical" Muslims and ignore all that Delhi has to offer?

I'm sure you have a theory as to why. Let us hear it.

Snobster said...

Now this post reminds me of certain action taking place in Mumbai.This place belongs to Blah culture,that sector predominantlt has this sect blah blah blah blah.
I don't have any idea where this comment will be accepted but for the Guest Writer I have to say,stop being so critical.If Mr Delhi-walla blogger is showing some lesser known parts/facts/cuisine/Ghalib/Ghetto Sufi Saints/facts about eunuchs or anything under the Sun,he is avoiding the much-hyped cliched rest of the city,which is being made to cram in the 6-7 grade history text books.The only reason why people return again here is HE IS NOT WRITING THE ALREADY KNOWN THINGS.He is making an attempt to show the other side from his point of view.But alas,if people want to know more on how a Posh couple residing in Sainik Farms celebrates Diwali by gifting Hoity-toity stuff from Frazer and Haws (No offences) and parting at Tabula Rasa,you can well pick up the supplements which accompany your favourite newspaper.
Good Day and a Very Happy Diwali.
Peace Out!

Btw-This was a well structured piece.The Blog I mean.

Ps- I have a suggestion.Please do cover Hauz Khas fort in your Blog once.That's one my favourite places in Delhi for a relaxed afternoon out with friends.

SloganMurugan said...

It is strange but exactly 5 minutes back, over lunch, with a colleague of mine, we were discussing Delhi, the city she hails from. She lives in Bangalore now and she was surprised that she has a muslim neighbour in an upmarket neighbourhood here and how their friendship developed. She was telling me that unlike Bangalore, a Hindu like her never interacted with muslims in Delhi. Plus how in Bangalore, at least in many parts, you interact with people of all faiths,e specially muslims on a day to day basis.

If what she says is true, then I think that you are showing the frogs in a well the picture of Delhi that they are blind to.

Keep clicking.

monica said...

You have made a valid point Sushant. There is a bias towards certain aspects of Delhi. But maybe that's what Mayank is comfortable with. I suppose he is doing what he feels is special about Delhi, doesn't make him fake though.
maybe this can be a challenge for him to step out of his comfort zone and see if the other sides of Delhi inspire him to write. He did an excellent piece about the Yamuna.

monica said...

Happy and prosperous Diwali to one and all.

Snobster said...

I'm all apologetic for spellings..You can see for yourself I got a little carried away .LOL
Btw I am satisfactory at spellings so peace again .!

Anonymous said...

Mayank:

_I_ think you do a wonderful job in writing about those aspects of Delhi that pass under the radar for the rest of society, and for that, I am most grateful.

You are writing a sort of "boutique" column - and it is your choice as to the topic. And this American enjoys every bit of it!

A belated "Happy Diwali" to all.

Peter

Anonymous said...

Mayank:

An after-thought: Delhi IS a a mostly muslim city - seat of the Mughal empire, and as such, deserves to be written about.

As a social historian (just getting into Indian history)I would love to read about what changes occured in 1857/8 after the uprising (Mutiny/1st War for Independence)and those after the Partition...

I regret to say that most Indians I know haven't got a clue as to what I'm asking about (and no, they are not all from Tamil Nadu).

Peter

Zishaan said...

Sushant - nice article. Do you blog? Where?

Mayank - continue writing what you love. Change a bit if you have to. But stay true to yourself always.

Saad Akhtar said...

Dear Sir,

I would also like to protest. But not about the choice of localities chosen by the Dilli Walla.

I want to protest about the excessive, AND I MEAN Excessive name dropping of Jane Austen and Arundhatti Roy in just about everything the D.W. does. I'm sure he has wet dreams about Jane and Arundhatti then wakes up in a sweat and writes an article.

Dude what's with the Jane Austen obsession! What did Mark Twain did to you to be neglected like this?

-Saad
Fly, You Fools!

Milan Kuchhal said...

Dear Sushant,
every writer have his own taste,style and a particular area of writing and one can't challenge him/her for not touching the complete horizon.
we must congratulate Mayank for providing us some gr8 information abt Delhi and stating some awesome pictures on his blog.
Regards
MILAN KUCHHAL

Milan Kuchhal said...

Dear Mayank,
keep blogging in your own style and purely with your own taste,
do not change yourself for any cause.
Regards
MILAN KUCHHAL

Anonymous said...

Mayank, I think that over time you blog has evolved from not just an expression of your thoughts but into a social window of todays Delhi, more so for people like me who are living thousands of miles away, hence you can expect such kind of response.
I also kinda agree with Sushant; with an alias like Delhi-Walla one would expect you to represent the whole community with out any bias and preferences but sometimes you do get carried away....

arjun said...

yeh Dilli wallah asli hai.......... i understand delhi better 'cos of your writings......Keep going !!

VISHWA said...

Mayank bhai ASAK
Great going. Do you take requests. Actually I've always wanted to trace SRK's life in Delhi i.e. His old mohalla, St. Columbus, JMI days, Barry John's, Mandi House etc.
I'm no more able to travel to Delhi frequently. When I do it is for a short visit.
I was hoping if you could do the SRK beat once

KH
Thanks in advance
Vishwanath

Saifullah said...

someone previously wrote similar opinion on delhi walla. guess the dude is bent on HIS vision of what Delhi is or lack of.
he is obsessed with arundathi roy and jane austen, should name the blog after them ONLY and not The Delhi walla.

Saifullah

jannah said...

Hey what's up with the Jane Austen hate :) I'm a second-generation Indian living in New York and I've enjoyed reading this blog very much. I don't really think I'd be interested to hear about modern New Delhi. What's different from NY to ND then? I'm sure every blogger from India does that, but to hear about the old buildings, the sufis, the alleyways, the underclass, history brought to life is well worth putting aside my Jane, picking up a cup of tea and logging onto the "Delhi Walla" :) Cheers & Salam!

desperate_indigo said...

This piece of critism is indeed very well written. The intellectual 'hatred' is prominent throughout the text. However the thought per-se is not fair. After all, this is a personal blog and Mayank is free to see the city from whichever view he chooses.

Let's be honest. We read his blog because we love his style, but how can we put a restriction over the content.

The very basic element of a blog is personalisation. "I blog what I feel like." Thats what a blog is for!

Connoisseur said...

I completely agree with the guest columnist. This guy Mayank seems to have got it all wrong. By visiting Pakistan and making few friends there doesn’t change the reality. Where are Pakistanis who will make such blogs about India?
By criticizing negatives in India and praising positives (hardly any) in Pakistan, you are trying to change the perception about Pakistan of the readers of your blog? It is like committing suicide my friend. Grow up! India has a lot more positives, specially Delhi region which is becoming the modern face of India. Delhi region (NCR) is by no means similar to any place in Pakistan. Stop making comparisons with Lahore as that city might have similar historical monuments, but other than that, it doesn’t have much in common. Maybe you can compare it with the Muslim ghettos and the old city, that would be a fair comparison.
Other fact is that your blog isn’t changing much in Pakistanis minds because that your goal ultimately. There are still dozens of Pakistanis spreading hatred on the net and abusing everything which is Indian. Yes, Indian might be doing the same but they are never the initiators. Writing a blog is good but it doesn’t resolve the issues which are larger than life.
I have read the other blog ‘Pakistan Paindabad’. Reading the posts of the Pakistani guest columnists, I came across some very unintelligent things. Some claiming the Indian history and music to be Pakistani/Muslims’ invention. I don’t blame them as it’s the result of teaching distorted history in schools there.
Other than that, Delhi is an Indian city now. You can’t take Mughal history as pride as it did more bad than good to India and it’s culture. Muslims brought nothing but conservatism, radicalism, communalism and their religion to India. Muslims are and will always be living in gutters because of their isolated thinking and unprogressive religion.

Ravi Sagar said...

I would like to see some stories from the Northern parts of Delhi.