Chucking plans for a pizza dinner and a movie, we went for a different weekend-ender.
Wafts of cooked mutton rushed into my nostrils as I looked around. We were standing in the middle of a bustling and bursting Karim’s. In the shadow of the Jama Masjid, we crossed skullcaps and dark burqas to get here. It was dinnertime and I was reminded that a woman wouldn’t normally venture out into this locality at this hour, unescorted. That was a well-meant admonition for me, lest the restlessness within me drags me back in here on yet another night, sans the company that I am currently enjoying.
After a sumptuous mughlai dinner, we walked out into the once royal, now unsafe and impoverished streets of a Delhi long gone. Remnants of majestic havelis, now housing countless shops, raking in an almost vulgar amount of cash. The infamous GB road with female silhouettes calling out to prospective customers, while they look the other way. Go-downs and granaries—the biggest in Asia—retail stores, and midnight business activities. We stumbled our way through the narrow, winding streets battling with the rickshaws. The famous paranthawali gali, which has now dwindled and shrunk to a meager number of shops. Six-generations-old shops that are not any younger than 1875.
Driving into the cosmopolitan Delhi, we found ourselves standing in a queue at Nirula’s. Delhi’s very own 1931-founded ice cream parlor. Slurping on a Manhattan Mania, I listened to business banter. Walking about in Connaught Place, competing for space with untimely hawkers, I watched the panwala folding betel leaves with the condiments. He ceremoniously ended his activity by pinning the leafy packet with a toothpick.
As we drove back home, we passed by the pizza joint that had just lost two of their regular customers, for a long time to come…