Tuesday, 5 February 2013

“Shut” day shopping: Central Market

(Text and photos by Pupps Roy)

Some work on Sundays and some rest on Mondays. Cycle of life rotates entire Delhi stopping in a loop for a day in our man made seven day week. Business Delhi. Bizzare bazar. Do they actually shut in any day? Every Market area of Delhi chooses to stay closed once a week. Really? Have you ever visited any market on such day and came out lugging shopping bags in two hands? Delhi is unpredictable. This can happen to you if you visit any market which is especially close on that particular day of a week. You can even get better deal specially marked for that day. Yes it happens!

Enter Central Market at Lajpat Nagar? Isn't lajpat nagar only known for Central Market? This phenomenal Market is officially close on Mondays. But the entry area is open and also there is a syndicate for Delhi Police and there are two cops controlling the security measurement and watching every entrant carefully. No there is no restriction that you cannot enter the Market. Why are they entering? What will they do in the market on such day? Is this a residential area? No not at all. Then?

The huge corner shoe shop upon entering is open and is displaying Sale. Two middle-aged women are coming out empty handed. Array of clothing, cheap cosmetics, hair accessories are being sold on the road by the hawkers under kerosene Hazac light. Everything is available here. This market has to offer a lot on Mondays like any other day. Sandals, junk jewelry, skirts, shawl, kurtas, fashionable t-shirts, harem pants, shorts, scarves and lot of inexpensive pretty looking wallets and bags are being sold. You will be baffled exploring the scene on an official close day. Some salesman and hawkers are even aggressive on selling their stuff. The arguments just started between a customer and the salesman. Not much sell happening today so why not trying a bit with the customers? They might end up buying some. Customers won’t give up and hawkers too. This goes on!

So what is the reason? Ajit a local hawker says “The market needs cleaning once a week so we close it on Mondays." He is fibbing or does not know the reason because the market is equally dirty like any other day. Litters are everywhere from plastic packets to crushed coke cans. "This market is actually close today, only we small time hawkers come with our stuff to sell", this guy is wrong too. "Incense" the biggest chain of Delhi urban fashion is open, even "Ritu Wears". They are big ones. Another comment from a salesman, "We are open for this marriage season, otherwise we are close". It looks like people just need some reason to keep their shops open. There are Autos waiting outside, The Car Parking guy is shouting and directing cars to park properly, Delhi police PCR Van is waiting around the corner, many food stalls are selling mouthwatering greasy snack. The entire market is lit up with 60% open stores and many customers going in and coming out maintaining the hustle-bustle of the market atmosphere but maybe little less than other day. So what are you waiting? Shop till you drop. Are you open or close? Yes or no?

How to get there: Nearest Metro station: Lajpat Nagar.

Kabuliwalahs: Lajpat Nagar

(Text and Photos by Pupps Roy)

Yes they still sell dry fruits and engage in money laundering.  Well, the former happens in Delhi and the latter source is not a part of the story. A gritty side of Delhi wrapped in exotic Candy Floss. Come eat it. The Crowd, hustle busle, flea Market and people are around everywhere. They are walking, running and also shoving you if you plunge into the crowd of Central Market. Once a refugee colony still maintains its status for many. Welcome to Lajpat Nagar. One of a kind and is the largest colony in the entire south Delhi. Lajpat nagar has a history of embracing foreigners from pre-independence era. Many outsiders have made this colony to their home but the presence of Afghan Community has been manifested since many years very strongly. Some have their business, some come to India for the medical facilities, Some for studies and rest are living here permanently while others are just having a good time in Delhi as tourists.

There is no reason why have there been so many Afghanis. In the close vicinity of Lajpat nagar in Bhogal area there is even a specialized Afghani hotel called "Hotel Kabuli". There are handfuls of Afghanis in Bhogal but the whole lot continue to exist in Lajpat nagar for over a decade. They look different so they are easily identifiable. Tall, extra fair with long clothes and loud accent. That’s how they have been dealing in business. Many fly over the borders to India to sell dry fruits. Aaraq or Aaragh is 32 years old man and drives a Honda City and has an Indian Driving license. He finds handling business in Delhi easy but again there is a lot of competition with other Afghanis who are emerging in the same business every single day. With more and more Afghanis pouring in Lajpat Nagar has become the hub of Afghanis.

Welcome to "Kabul Delhi Restaurant". This is a pure Afghani restaurant where they serve delicacies of Afghanistan. It is located right across the Central Market. You can actually see all tables are full and mostly Afghan patrons and few Indians are starting at the menu deciding and discussing what to order. This busy restaurant also has a dias where you can sit down cross-legged and eat. It’s like sitting on the floor and eating food. This restaurant is tiny but looks pretty with the giant picture of Ayatollah Khomeini that goes so well with the size of bread that they serve with pickled lady fingers, worth a try. The best and talked about dish here is Biriyani and korma served by some young Afghan men.

Back to the rutted road of Lajpat Nagar. Next to Kabul restaurant is an Afghan Medical store. Even the name and the address is written in Afghani language or in Arabic. Afghani Women walking in groups and one of them is carrying a Haruki Murakami, hawkers shouting and selling their stuff, Rickshaw walas are waiting for their customers, a group of young men are congregating around the tea stall and engrossed in some loud conversation, Smart Afghani guys in skinny jeans are coming out of the parlor one by one and the scene goes on and on. There is a also a small travel agency that sells direct ticket of some Afghan airline and also promoting medical tourism. On top of it there is a sign of "Room to let". Everyone has a place to stay and live their own in Delhi. Diversified Delhi is proud to host Afghan Community in its warm lap of Lajpat Nagar. Its crowded but welcoming. So come and absorb.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

After Rape...Now what?

(Text by Pupps Roy)

What happened in Delhi was horrible and beyond mercy. Delhi has been once again proved to be the rape capital of India. Many rapes have been unreported in the city. But this unfortunate incident has brought some changes in our society which may not be short term because this created a social catastrophe. Everyone is awake from 6 to 80 years old. This is not an incident that newspapers forget after 7 days. This is as serious as "Arushi's case" or "Mumbai blast". The whole nation is falling apart and raising voice for action. Rules and Acts have to be amended. Mentality needs a change, approach has to change, and Behavior has to be different. How much change can we succumb to? It is not ONLY about the gangrape of a college student. It is about our city, entire nation, all of us.  Men, women, transexuals and every minority group who go through all these on every single day. Can we really change? That’s the question. And why do we change to stop Rapes to happen? Why can’t Rapes stop itself? Ok let’s stop dreaming and get real. Rapes won’t stop but it can lessen in number. Rape is a heinous crime. On top of that violently killing after rape is unforgiveable. It would have been so nice if the girl lived after her "fight with life" in the hospital. She died a life of a Hero and left the nation to wake up from the slumber.


Everyone is coming out with new plan of punishment against rape. Not to mention about the useless souls who think changing dress code or addressing brothers to the rapists will change the situation. Neither Arab law will ever prevail in India. This needs a myriad change of acceptance and understanding to the punishment of such heinous crime which shook our entire nation and our conscience. What’s happening in its wake is just as sad to hear the great minds of India are so childish in their quotes. Touch wood they were never raped! They would never be able to get up on their toes and give a speech again in life. It feels so disgusting when men pass such remarks. It truly reflects that some of their brains are located in their genitals. The reason we are ranting to its stance is this is heartfelt as if it happened to one of our family members. Almost 80% Indians have shown some sort of protest through talking it out, going to the protest march, discussing it or spreading in the social network media. Finally it’s the time to forget our developing India and time to realize that it’s not that great. But there is area of improvements. We can make it a better place to live in. Is it that difficult to unify India and to get this installed into the heads of Indian women that Rape is not horrible because you become spoilt. It is not horrible because your family will lose their respect and will walk with their heads down in the public places. Please delete the idea that your virtue lives between your thighs. The whole thing gave other Indian women strength to come out and many have reported incidents to police after this. A Rape victim always needs empathy instead of the gory details which is often asked by  the authority. Discussion should only be restricted between the victim and the female police officer. Is this practised? Is the post Rape treatment shown in Movies real?


Delhi police have been pretty much fast on this case. They are well equipped with everything including the latest technology. Run amok with it. They are adapting to the pressure and working to "Fast Track" other rape cases. Let’s stop abusing them. They patrol whole night so that we can peacefully sleep. Their antiquated pistols and their pot belly look so cheap, foolish and unfit during the time of an attack but they can’t roam around with the AK 47. They don’t have the right. Would they kill the rapists with AK 47 like terrorists so that they die the worst death? Terrorists and rapists should die in the worst possible manner or let them suffer their whole life. Rapists should be raped, tortured then sent back to hospital and then should be brought back again for a fresh session of Rape and torture. Or evolve an idea so that Rapists stop taking birth? Yes the key idea is to educate people. Everyone should know what constitues abuse and its degrees. Also educate them their rights and strengthem them to come back to real life and survive. Girl, you fought for all of us. You are an eye opener. Long live Nirbhaya! Lets hope for a better world! Better Delhi.




Monday, 10 December 2012

Pizza Wala in Delhi

(Text and Photos by Pupps Roy)

From Ludhiana to Lajpat nagar. A long way to go! Italian delicacy comes in a decked up vending cart with an inbuilt LPG oven. Its colorful, has night lights, a well described attractive menu and it smells so good from 20 feet. Sweet smell of Onion, garlic and cheese will bring water in your mouth and there you stop. You look for the man to bake your favourite pizza but he is nowhere found. He stands 5 feet 4 inches and hides at the chopping area right behind the oven. He is chopping fresh onion for his next pizza pick up. Meet Kishan kumar. He is wearing his most radiant smile as he welcomes people walking around his cart. "Sometimes I call out people to buy my pizza and sometimes I don't. It totally depends on my mood you see", he says. He doesn’t look to have many mood swings as he always has a smiling face.

Pizza comes in different sizes and prices. The menu card is right outside the cart hanging on a nail and is swinging with the cold Delhi breeze and can fly off anytime. The lowest price of the pizza is 60Rs and the highest goes to 90Rs. There are pictures of pizzas everywhere on the vending cart so that everyone knows exactly what they are eating. He also has two customers currently waiting to be served. One family sitting inside a Maruti 800 with two kids and the man of the family is smoking outside and staring at me or measuring me as I am talking to Kishan. He so much wants to be in the photograph and I am just ignoring him. Finally he enters in the conversation, "This pizza is really good. Its my second time here". Kishan Kumar gives a teethy grin, takes out a half done pizza from the oven and sprinkles some extra cheese on it and puts it back in the oven again. It looks like he doesn't want to lose this customer. Who wants to? Everyone is trying to hard retain theirs by offering something or the other these days. Customer's delight.  Never to lose any.

"Is that Mozarella"? He looked up blank as if he heard something in Hebrew or Chinese. He needs some sort of simplification. "Is this cheese mozarella?"He thinks for few seconds and then replies "This cheese comes especially from UP and this is used only for pizzas". The texture is soft and the color is pale which is exactly like mozarella. I trust him.  His customers are devouring the pizza so there’s no doubt about it that his pizza ingredients are tasty and wholesome. No wonder that his pizzas are moving so fast. He has two more student customers now. Someone has to know where his skill sets are from. The secret of his fast moving Pizzas. He is busy but he is enjoying this whole pizzacentric conversation. He combs his hair neatly before he is ready for a photograph to be clicked.

"Where did you learn pizza making?" He again thinks for a minute or more as he serves pizza to one of his customers. Well, this is actually giving him the time to think. "I learned from Ludhuana Pizza hut". Are you serious? He may be lying. He is not smiling now. He looks serious. Maybe he is trying hard to convince me. He adds on "I used to work there and one of my freinds taught me how to bake a pizza". Now so many questions run in my mind. If he was not baking pizza then what was he doing in Pizza hut? A delivery boy? No no, definitely not. If he learned baking pizzas then why is he not making pizza base? There are many pizza bases stacked in the corner and he tops them with sauces, veggies and cheese and there is his pizza. He may be fibbing or may not be. He may have learned in Delhi from some coffee shop Or maybe someone taught him how to bake pizzas and he is now working for him just as an employee. Let’s not go into this. He is little serious now. He requests me to shift little bit as there are customers around him and I am not one of them. I finally asked for a slice of pizza. "It will take some time Sir". He may have thought that I am asking it for free. There's no need to wait. I am highly contended with the smell of cheese, onion and some burnt herbs and a spicy cinversation. I am convinced that his pizzas are great. Now he really wants me to go. He stretches his hands for a warm shake and then turns sideways. He turns his neck to see if I am still there to conjure him or not. I quickly vanish with the whole thought of this mystic pizza episode. It was awesome!