Dilli Meri Jaan...
Someone once said, “A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.” This decades old quote holds true even today and the Commonwealth Games is a befitting example.
Interview after interview, Suresh Kalmadi, or Sheila Dixit, have been exuding confidence on the way preparations for the Commonwealth Games are going. Kalmadi has assured the nation in each of his interview and public appearance that the Games would be the best in India so far. Even while the common man is jostling with traffic jams, pot holes, deaths due to electrocution etc, Sheila Dixit says all is fine.
The recent launch of the theme song for Delhi by Euphoria is the icing on the cake. It takes optimism to dizzying heights. Here is an interpretation from the common (wo)man who is out there on the streets of Delhi everyday facing the ugly reality.
“Ye sheher meri jaan”
(This city is my life)
Definitely this sheher is the jaan of many as it has claimed their lives. Some were just going to their places of work and fell down in an open sewer, some were unaware of the pot holes under water, some did not know that the weight of their car would be too much for the road to bear that caved in, some kids were playing when they accidently stepped on some wire and got electrocuted, some were returning from a movie when a reckless driver hit their car and killed them in road rage…
Ironically, the word ‘jaan’ rhymes with ‘jam’. Yeh sheher meri jam fits absolutely for a city that has a perpetual traffic jam anytime of the day or night.
“Meri sasoon mein basa , iski hawa ka nasha”
(My breath is intoxicated with its air)
Very true. The nasha is definitely there but, of a hawa that is full of pollution, some from the vehicles while other from debris. Why forget the other nasha of drunken drivers, who rule the roads of Delhi unchecked?
“Kehti koi kahani, yeh galiyan, yeh bastiya”
(These slums and lanes tell us some story)
Definitely, there is a story in every nook and corner of the city. On one hand, there are bungalows worth crores of rupees, while on the other are slum dwellers taking shelter under flyovers, near river banks, in under-construction buildings, in old abandoned monuments etc. These just tell the story of the ever increasing gap between the haves and haves not. Actually, this gap may not be that evident to the tourists of the Games. Most of the slum dwellers, roadside kiosk owners and beggars have been asked to leave. This is the real kahani.
“Jaha rahoon ko sajaayein pedhon ki daaliyan”
(Where trees adorn the roadsides)
A little wind storm and a lot of trees fall down on the roads blocking traffic. They do adorn the roads for days at a stretch as the concerned authorities are too busy thinking about ways to make more money. The illegal felling of trees that goes unchecked too adds to the beauty.
“Bhagta fir raha har insaan yaahan”
(Everybody seems to be running here)
This is something that used to be said for Mumbai only till some years back but now, Delhi too has caught on. Yes, everybody seems to be running because no matter how much margin one keeps for reaching the destination on time, one ends up reaching late. Then, there are other things that people in Delhi try to run from - inflationary pressures, noise pollution, air pollution, robbers, policemen asking for bribe, pickpocketers, loan recovery agents… run, run and run.
“Dil mein hai basaye lakhon sapne yaahan”
(Here, the heart is filled with many dreams)
Delhiites are aspirational and flamboyant by nature. Some dream of basic amenities like food and shelter, while others dream about owning a two-wheeler. Then, there are those who dream about that latest Gucci bag or a bungalow in Jor Bagh as GK is not good enough for them.
Even Sheila Dixit is dreaming these days about a super successful CWG, while Mani Shankar Aiyer may be secretly dreaming about a super failure for CWG. Everybody is dreaming…
“Sabka sahara yeh sheher hamara”
(This city is the support system for all)
It is definitely sabka sahara because many people from nearby areas like Ghaziabad or Faridabad have no choice but to commute to Delhi everyday to earn their livelihood, or for getting a decent education, thanks to lack of quality infrastructure in their home towns. Then, as Sheila Dixit once infamously remarked, there is a lot of pressure on Delhi from migrants from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
With Delhi being the national and political capital of our country, the nation is dependent on it for almost everything. It is the sahara of many indeed.
“Yeh sheher nahi mehfil hai”
(This is not just a city but, a big party)
Delhi would definitely be one big mehfil during the Games, oblivious to the needs of thousands of people who go to bed hungry everyday. It will be a mehfil for the page three people. It will be a mehfil for cons who shall make good of this opportunity to deceive the unsuspecting tourists. It will be a long lasting mehfil for the Organising Committee members who have pocketed lakhs, or even crores of rupees under the garb of spending money for the Games.
Delhi has some very special and good things but, the mood these days is too cynical, too depressed, too aggressive, too despondent to look at the brighter side of Delhi that the song tries to represent. That interpretation can be left for some good times, but this is the interpretation for present times!
(Shobhika Puri is a freelance writer)