Delhi's Charm is in Accepting One and All
By Arushi Mudgal
Published: 13th Apr 2014 06:00:00 AM
It is fairly common to be asked the place of one’s birth or the city that one hails from. But what interests me is the unique reaction that the answer receives. A couple of years ago, I was asked this question in Odisha and I remember well the response “Oh! Dilli ki ladki ho!”. (You’re a Delhi girl!) I wondered what it was about Delhi that made people roll their eyes.
Now, when I look at Delhi from an outsider’s perspective, I think I understand where that reaction came from, and why. It cannot be denied that Delhi is infamous for reasons no one can be proud of—lack of safety of women being one such. Then there are the unnecessary pressures here like Delhiites’ obsession with social status and brands. Yet, there is a lot more the capital offers. Like its climate, Delhi has its positives and negatives and the bright side has a lot to offer that cannot be overlooked. I can confidently say that a major role is played by the city’s cultural scenario.
All my life, I have lived in an atmosphere full of music and dance. Delhi’s Gandharva Mahavidyalaya has been my home, temple, school, playground and more. I have had the privilege of being exposed to the cultural activities of the city from childhood. My sister and I used to dress up excitedly to attend various music and dance festivals, most of which—at that time—used to take place in Mandi House. Over the years, Mandi House has witnessed the journey of various cultural institutes, theatres and auditoria, from Sapru House to Kamani, from FICCI to Sri Ram Centre, to Triveni, Sangeet Bharati, Kathak Kendra, National School of Drama, Lalit Kala & Sahitya Academies, to the Sangeet Natak Akademi. It has been home to hundreds of thousands of artistes, be it dancers, musicians, actors or sculptors. And it also has the Bengali Market, which has forever been the artistes’ adda for fun discussions as well as heated debates. Here, I cannot resist mentioning the famous chaat and gol gappas of the Market that definitely make it to Delhi’s long list of attractions.
In the last few years, Delhi has seen the rise of newer performance spaces. Culturally, it has become much more vibrant. Besides indoor theatres, performances are taking place at magnificent, historical monuments and parks. This has led to an inclusion of uninitiated audiences for the classical arts, which is a welcome change. Another heartening shift that can be observed of late is the participation of the youth in the socio-cultural-political affairs of the city. Moreover, in the field of performing arts too, now one sees more cross-dialogues happening than before.
Delhi’s beauty lies in its acceptance of one and all. It is known as the melting pot of various peoples, cultures, languages, cuisines and more. The amalgamation of all these has created a distinct culture which is unique to the city. People might choose to agree or disagree, but I am in love with Delhi and its way of life. I am proud to be a Delhiite.
(Mudgal is a well-known Odissi dancer)