The "New" Delhi dissected
View from metro station at Barakhamba road
Last week in Delhi was an interesting trip. After spending years living there, this visit made me suddenly feet like a tourist, or rather an outsider.
The pretext of commonwealth games seem to have changed the essence of Delhi in some ways. Mainly infrastructural. Traversing through the city, I noticed little changes all around. And some big visible changes too. For one, the roads seem to have overtaken the city landscape. Roads and the signages. Everywhere were these steel frames either as signages, or huge hoardings. Or the steel was in the underpasses, bridges or the underground pathways… some of them simply spouting up with no reason. Acting as self imposed barriers between the city and people.
In middle of the green patch near Aiims was this monstrosity of a “contemporary” steel sculpture like alien water bubbles suspended in time. My mind often went wondering what the locals in Delhi would be thinking each time they crossed this. Inspite of my design background, I couldn’t understand why and I couldn’t relate to this..could they?
But there were those little changes. In CP, suddenly I noticed a building that one had heard about but never noticed before. “Mohan singhs place”. Saw the sign and exclaimed ” oh so thats where it was!’ ..its another matter that the visual image of such places is generally dirty, dusty with paan stains around. Then saw bhikaji cama place and the little detail of the tiled steps was the new feature, but did nothing to enhance the building. Going back to CP, suddenly the hanuman temple, the gurudwara, the church and the mosque were back in the landscape, haven been hidden behind clutter for too long.
Near the old priya cinema was the most interesting development of all. And it was sponsored privately.There are these three wheel taxi cars with huge branding on the roof. One could call for these colourful, futuristically styled vehicle to your doorstep for local travel. Didn’t get to try it, but it was rather cute.
The red and green buses, which were once inaugurated with much funfare….drove around the inner roads with the same ruthlessness as before. They are only now larger devils.You can change the vehicles, but can you change the people?
Another development was the lighting style outside the presidents estate when you travel from cp crossing willingdon crescent (now renamed mother teresa crescent 😦 ).But what were those tiny lion sculptures all around? reminded me of quietly poised lion cubs or a lion shrunk to 25% its size. The concept was good…but somehow the lion size was too small to indicate power.And do people really walk about and sit on those stone benches propped overlooking the notorious ridge??
Well….whoever…has done whatever in Delhi over this “commonwealth” infrastructural and “beautification” scene….mixed feelings for that…. but yes…its not the Delhi I remember. Neither its a Delhi I can relate to now. Maybe it has its rewards with the growing population over a period of time and a preparation for the next 20 odd years by some wise team of urban planners…but surely the essence has been brought out as cold, distant and alien for now. Is this the future?