This post has been published by me as a part of the Blog-a-Ton 32; the thirty-second edition of the online marathon of Bloggers; where we decide and we write. To be part of the next edition, visit and start following Blog-a-Ton. The theme for the month is 'An Untold Story'
I have a very strange feeling about this city. I know, this statement applies to all the cities - urban life has become a very strange kind of living. That is the reason I generally don't say "this is a strange city" - but I can't help it saying about Delhi. I have lived in many cities and always lived as if I was born there and I was going to die there. But with Delhi, it is different. When I came here, I knew I had to leave this city some day. Is that truth makes me feel the strangeness of Delhi? I don't know.
A lot has been told and written about Delhi. From ages, people have been expressing their love or there awe about Delhi. However I feel that Delhi still offers an Untold Story, it has the capacity to open its secrets if one is interested. I know, you won't believe me. Alright, take the example of Khan Market.
So far, I had visited Khan Market only once - with a colleague from Canada. During those hours I had realized that this place was not for me.When I received a message from Surekha Narain about a visit to Khan Market area, I was surprised. The weather in Delhi was not conducive for moving around leisurely even after a comparatively good rain in August. I had been to couple of places with Surekha and had found it to be good. I mean the group is never too large so we can spend time in discussions and information generation. Surekha always comes with lot of information to share and the atmosphere is friendly and informal. She provides good insights into the places we visit. So I was eager to visit Khan Market.
I wanted to know more before confirming and so asked my colleagues, "What is there in and around Khan Market?" Most of them are born and brought up in Delhi - still they looked at me in a weird way, said "Market" and changed the topic. I went to Wikipedia. There I gathered few points like - this Market was established in 1951, it is named after legendary Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan and it has 21st rank in the list of costly markets in the world!! Reading this, I was caught in two minds - to visit Khan Market or Not. However, I was sure, Surekha would present Untold Story of the area to me.
|Hotel Ambassador, Khan Market, New Delhi|
|Bagwali Masjid, Khan Market, New Delhi|
Next we visited Sujan Singh Park. This was the first apartment in Delhi built long back in 1945. Who is this Sujan Singh? He is father of building contractor Sobha Singh. Who is Sobha Singh? He is father of Khushwant Singh. (Please, don't ask who is Khushwant Singh!!). Sobha Singh was prominent builder of Lutyen's Delhi. It is said that not long back half of the Delhi belonged to Sobha Singh.I was pained to note that the city of Delhi elected him not once but four times as President of New Delhi Municipal Council. How can people forget and forgive that he was one of those who identified Bhagat Singh and Batukeshwar Datta for throwing bombs in Delhi Assembly in 1929. Why do we have a very weak sense of patriotism? Well, that too remains an Untold Story!
|Sujan Singh Park, Khan Market, New Delhi|
|Old Telephone in Hotel Ambassador, New Delhi|
Our next point was a Synagogue. Here we met the Rabbi and the Secretary Mr. Malekar. According to him there are about 5000 Jew population in India and about 50 people in Delhi who are the followers are of Judaism. However, many people from the various embassies come here to pray.It was nice to here a religious teacher saying: "I am Indian first and Jew later" or "Israel is in my heart, but India is in my blood." We Indians in that group felt good about it.
Mr. Malekar briefly explained fundamental teachings of Judaism, the prayer ceremony in the Synagogue. For example the cloth the Rabbi wears during the discourse and the Shofar has historical significance. Nobody is allowed to enter the wooden platform from where the Rabbi gives talk etc. However things are changing now. For example the status of women according to the religion is changing. The tradition says that Torah should not be read unless 10 men are there to listen. But now at least the Delhi Synagogue reads it if there are 10 persons - which includes women. Saturady is a Sabbath day and work is forbidden on that day. However here was Mr. Malkear, working on Saturday and sharing the knowledge with non-followers of Jew faith. What factors contributed to these changes - is another Untold Story!
|Parasi Cemetery, Khan Market, New Delhi|
If you ask anyone in Delhi about Khan Market; ten out of ten people would say that it a place for shopping. Here we were, a group of people, spending two and half hours in the area - without visiting a shop, without visiting a restaurant and still feeling full.
To some extent, I understood the Untold Story of Khan Market area that morning. But many aspects of the story need to be explored. Let me see when I get the opportunity to visit the area again! Let me see what this strange city of Delhi reveals to me.