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3’33 'I'" aliamm
Delhi finds a place in the cultural revolution Words: Anna Millar
asim decrees that in polite society horses sweat. men per‘spir‘c and ladies glow. It's 48 degrees and I'm exhibiting all the decorum of a world class thoroughbred. Moreoyer. I‘m exuding a stench comparable to that of a draft horse post-hary'est. The sadist in me finds it strangely cathartic.
As a sprawling metropolis. Delhi is no beauty. .\Iy gtride immediater confesses he finds it ‘ugly' in comparison with his name home of (‘alcutta. .’\esthetically speaking. it's difficult to disagree. Both man and beast attempt to co-habit the dusty roads as buses. trucks. and motorbikes \‘ie for space. while the cluttered array of bullock carts. cows and rickshaws congest the already crammed streets. Along the roadside dilapidated shanty'towns cr‘assly' justapose with awe-inspiring forts. mosques and colonial residences. l)ccr'cpit beggars. young and old. Ioiter around stalls where orthodox Hindus and Muslims buy their snacks. Across the street trendy teens line the corners decked in the latest fashions set by Wrangler. [mi and Caterpillar. It's a savage. extraordinary attack on the senses. A name artist explains later in the week that. for her. Delhi is simply a cany'as on which to paint life's experiences and in turn create identity. After a day's initiation to this y'ast
metropolis. I begin to understand. Delhi: a seeming mass of
contradictions. resolutely defying definition and surpassing expectation.
We eat our ey'ening meal in the ethereal opulence of the Imperial Hotel. The cony'ersation flows easily as natiy‘e
publishers. artists and dancers offer me their interpretation of
India. Words like 'progressiy'e'. 'mythical' and ‘y'ibrant' litter the discussion. The general clientele — along with our host. the multi arts production company. Teamwork —< depict a new India: a time of rapid regeneration. Sanjoy Roy. the troupe‘s esccutiy'e producer. wears jeans and a checked blue shirt. his designer shades perched with well-oiled precision on the top of his long sily'er mane. Roy's beautiful wife wears a banana- eolotrred dress. split to the knee. and her shoulders are bare. I
remark to my new dancer friend that his artistic \ ision and her \‘iy‘acity must mark them as something of a new age social institution. He laughs and assures me times are changing and this is not the India I hayc read about. Women are as much Victims of their circumstance as their culture and now culture has changed. I suggest that surely that can‘t be a fail a complis. tentatiy’ely mentioning a sign I’yc seen perched outside the medical store: 'Safe Abortion By 'I‘ablctcs'. What of this circumstancc'.’ I'm met with a knowing stare. .\'o answers are offered.
We rnoyc on to the more comfortable topic of historical sights. I'd csrwrienced the splendour of the Red l‘ort that day: a strangely achromatic relic of Moghul grandeur. It is humbly br'trshed oycr‘ as being ‘quite IlllPI'C\\IVC.. The discussion [times on to Delhi‘s nod to the Taj .\IahaI. Ilurnayun's Tomb. I'm told it's 'worth a glance' and should only take an hour to wander around. I'pon Visiting a few days later. I don‘t recognise the modest description. It's esceptional. refreshineg understated with an insouciant beauty. The gardens are esquisitc. the architecture awesome. But again. contradiction reigns. We Ieaye the safe confines of the grounds and an old man forces a small chessboard at my chest. '80“ rupees." I shake my head. Ilis eyes fill with what appears to be a misture of sadness and anger. I adopt the ‘thcrn' and ‘us‘ stance. pushing past him towards the safety of my yehiclc. ‘0le rupees." ‘.\'o' I answer more lirme and clamber into the \an. Ile reaches for my leg and. ashamedly. I‘m afraid. But he simply places the board on my lap. shrugs his shoulders and says 'IIX) rupccs‘. It's not a question now; it's a plea. I spend my £1.30 and escape into the confines of my comfortable air-conditioned c\islcncc. .»\s we driye away. I see the beauty of Ilumayun's Tomb protruding from the top of the beggars head.
My mind meanders back to the c\pcr'icncc of ('handni b
Decrepit beggars juxtapose with beautiful colonial architecture
I see the beauty of Humayun’s Tomb protruding from the top of the beggar’s head
-THE LIST 115