Being A Delhiite
Being A Delhiite
Delhi in the mid-sixties was quite different. It was a blend of the urban and the rural. It had wide-open spaces and was interspaced with villages. It had and still has a forest area within the city called the Delhi Ridge area.
I was brought up in South Delhi. We lived for many years in Wazir Nagar…next to the South Extension. South Extension was considered to be a place for the rich. South Extension is one of the posh localities in South Delhi. It is on Ring Road. There is a very popular market in South Delhi. But most people who lived in Wazir Nagar belonged to the middle class of that time. Nowadays definition of the middle class has been changed.
Delhi back then was a very different place from today. I grew up here and have many beautiful memories from this home. We were living in a rented house of one room set. It was built to accommodate three families on a plot, having one bedroom set each.
We shared a toilet with these three families and slept on the roof in the summers. In the evenings, I used to sprinkle water on the roof to get it cooled and then put folding beds and beddings and we slept on them. Sometimes we used standing pedestal fans when the heat was unbearable at peak of summer. Sometimes when it started raining in the middle of the night, we ran down with our beddings on our back to get inside the home.
Today when I tell my children, that we had to share our toilet with three families, they are surprised as now they don’t want to share their bathrooms with even any family member.
In the kitchen, we had put a wooden table to make it a standing kitchen. Otherwise, my mom had to cook food while sitting, and it was not comfortable for her to stand again and again to pick things like masalas and oil, etc from the shelf which was higher. So that table was used as a kitchen slab and we felt comfortable in that arrangement.
There was an almirah with the net on its doors, in which we used to keep cooked food or milk after boiling as we didn’t have a fridge at that time. Food was cooked fresh in the morning and evening.
In those times TV was not there to keep us entertained. It was just Radio which we used to listen to songs or other radio programs. So after finishing my homework I used to visit my Nani’s( maternal grandmother) home. She lived just one street next to us. My Mama’s(maternal uncle) family also lived with my maternal grandparents. So I went there whenever I wanted or when I wanted to play with my cousins.
My Nani had a strong influence on the family and was a very strong lady. We got scolded by her if we fight or shout. But we loved her very much because she pampered us with toffees and small gifts.
My aunt (Mousi)also lived in the same street as my Nani and all my cousins were very close to each other. I had one younger brother Chintu(name changed). My aunt had three sons and my mama also had three sons. So I was the only sister for all seven of them. That’s the reason I was pampered by everyone and I felt like a queen all the time.
To be continued…