Thursday, July 30, 2009

City Landmark – NYC Unisex Salon, Hauz Khas Market

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Delhi’s first LGBT friendly salon

Delhi’s first LGBT friendly salon.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Dressing up as a drag queen becomes a tad easier and pricier in the Capital. In July, 2009, the city got its first openly LGBT-friendly unisex salon in Hauz Khas Market. “We charge Rs 3,000 for dolling up a man,” says Mr Sameer Mehta, the proprietor of NYC who runs the salon with his partner Mr Mike. “We opened around seven months ago but ‘came out’ as soon as the Delhi High Court scrapped Section 377,” says Mr Mehta.

To spread the news, the partners, known faces in Delhi’s unofficial LGBT-friendly circles like Pegs ‘n’ Pints, Polka and M-Lounge, have been dropping messages on gay websites, blogs and related online communities. They even have an exclusive phone number (9650-764-365) where people can call to make appointments.

“It’s not just about the drag queen part,” says Mr Mehta. “Sometimes, gay people feel uncomfortable while asking to wax certain areas of their body in salons, but here our staff is trained to anticipate such requests.”

IT professional Mr Sumantha Roy, a gay man living in Amar Colony, doesn’t quite agree with the discomfort factor. “I never feel awkward in any salon, coz the moment I enter they know I’m gay and they behave accordingly,” he says. “But yes, this new salon is good for awareness’s sake.”

Mr Jawed Habib, one of Delhi’s most famous hair stylists, has a problem with even that argument. “It [the gay tag] is a marketing gimmick,” he says. “Whether you are gay or straight, a child or an adult, a boy or a girl, cutting hair doesn’t differ.”

Before he made his announcement, Mr Mehta made sure that his seven-member staff was detoxed of stereotypes. “A few had this Bobby Darling impression that every gay man is an effeminate,” he says. Now they smartly handle even the inevitable passes. “Most clients tell me I’m cute and then I say ‘thank you’,” says hair stylist Mr Shaan.

Does that mean that the salon is not for the straight population? “No, no, all are welcome.” Mr Mehta clarifies. However, he is aware that people may hesitate to come in here once this salon becomes ‘famous’ as an LGBT-friendly place. “Look, this is my community and I’m proud of what I’m,” he asserts. “I don’t care if some folks have issues about getting a facial here.”

While the coming out of this salon hints at a new level of tolerance in society, openness has its boundaries. Both Mr Mehta and his partner, who teaches Salsa to school students, requested not to be photographed for this article. Mr Mehta doesn’t want his relatives to know he is gay while Mr Mike fears that his students might feel uncomfortable if they discover this aspect about him.

Meanwhile, Mr Sumantha Roy has no immediate plans to visit NYC. “I get my hair done regularly from Charlie in NFC Community Centre,” he says, “so why should I go to someone unknown?”

Where E-52, Near Wine Shop, Hauz Khas Market Ph 9650-764-365

This is it

Delhi’s first LGBT friendly salon

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Delhi Diary – The Power of Faith

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Maula Mere Maula

Beauty as seen in a sufi shrine.

[Text and picture by Mayank Austen Soofi]

One humid Saturday afternoon I was at the dargah of sufi saint Sarmad Shahid. It is in Old Delhi, just outside Jama Masjid’s gate no. 3.

The red-walled shrine was empty, save a few pilgrims. There was a man, with a beard and a skull cap, praying in front of Sarmad's tomb. Just then a young woman appeared in a sari and stood by his side. With the sindoor spread length-wise on the parting of her hair, and a black-beaded mangalsutra wound round her neck, it was clear that she was a Hindu.

The woman had a few agarbattis in her hands. The sari’s pallu was drawn modestly over her head. Her eyes were closed, her lips were moving, and so were the agarbattis in a never-ending circle, just the way Hindus do in their temples.

I do not know what the lady was murmuring to her saint. I’m not even certain if she was familiar with the ethos of Islam, but the sight was beautiful. Here was a Hindu woman, standing beside a Muslim man; both making their own personal prayers. Both had their eyes closed. Neither minded the other's presence. Neither felt 'impure'.

We Delhiwallas are just amazing people.

These two were from different religions, different backgrounds, but for a short time, they came together in a place of spirituality and, rather unintentionally, stirred up a joint communion.

It does not matter if the shrine belonged to a sufi saint, or a Hindu god, or a Sikhu guru. It does not matter if they were not in the pursuit of spirituality, but merely petitioning for personal favors. What matters is that together they showed all that is beautiful in our city, and in our religions.

While there is no argument that all faiths have caused conflicts, cruelties and communal riots, the same religions have, at times, brought out the best from their followers. That is why that Saturday afternoon I thought of Samuel P. Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations and laughed.

Monday, July 27, 2009

City Secret – Kuldeep Booksellers, Daryaganj

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City Secret – Kuldeep Booksellers, Daryaganj

A must-visit for book lovers.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

If there were no Indian Partition, there would have been no Kuldeep Booksellers. Started by the son of a Partition refugee from what is now Pakistan, this hole-in-a-wall, in this Daryaganj backlane, could shame South Delhi’s most hyped bookstores.

Get here quickly before anyone else takes away this entire stack of first edition Churchills, or that first edition of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, or this rare set of hardbound Lincoln books, or this pile of automobile books, or the Princess Diana collection there, or those WWII encyclopedias on the top shelf, or these Time-Life cookbooks from the 60s, or this paperback on the French Revolution, or that beautiful-looking biography of Marlene Dietrich, or... well, I can go on and on for this small space is over-filled with 8,000 to 10,000 books.

“We get these books from the unsold stock of publishers, from raddiwallas and from the container,” says Mr Ankur Nanda, the older of the two brothers now running Papa’s business. While some old, rare books does come from ragpickers who get it from the indifferent inheritors of dead bibliophiles' libraries, most are bought from the ‘container’.

This ‘container’, by the way, is God’s gift to Delhiwallas.

Most 'phoren books' (rare, first editions, old, new) that you see in Delhi’s second-hand bookstores, or even in Daryaganj’s Sunday Book bazaar, are there, thanks to the ‘container’. The books arrive monthly in India in a ship from USA that anchors either at Bombay or Chennai. There they are stacked into a large truck and sent to the Capital by road.

As is usual with such ‘city secrets’, a substantial number patronizes this bookshop, but secretly. Some fly in from as far as Chandigarh, Jaipur, Patna and Bombay. An antique book dealer from Simla buys these books at real bargain, and sells them at king’s ransom back home.

“Some of our regulars are only into bikes or geography or lighting equipments or old newspapers,” says younger brother Mr Anand. “When the new stock arrives, we give them a phone call.”

The Nandas also run a stall in Daryaganj’s Sunday Book Bazaar, near the Golcha Cinema, but this 6-days-a-week store has more choices.

The family took to selling books around 40 years ago when Mr Kuldeep Nanda, the father of these two young men and after whom this shop is named, entered the VIII standard. As was the custom, he went to Nai Sadak to exchange his old school books for the new. At that time there used to be less than half-a-dozen sellers in that street and inevitably there would be long queues. While waiting for his turn, Papa Nanda observed that booksellers were buying second-hand books for one-fourth the listed price from one customer, and selling them for half the listed price to another.

The next day the clever boy borrowed Rs 10 from his father, went again to Nai Sadak, bought a few books from students in the queue, sat on a footpath, sell a few of those books, and at the day’s end returned home with Rs 20. In his two-month-long vacation, our entrepreneur ended up making Rs 150, a big sum in those times. He soon left school and went full-time into the book trade. Now, with sons taking over from him, the founder-father lazes around at his house in Sant Nagar.

“We don’t get time to read books,” confesses Mr Ankur. “We do enjoy selling them.” And we enjoy buying them.

Suggestion The brothers are stubborn but bargaining possible Where 3070, Pratap Street, Behind Golcha Cinema Parking, Daryaganj Ph 011-3012-8013

Mr Ankur Nanda (left), Mr Anand Nanda

City Secret – Kuldeep Booksellers, Daryaganj

A regular?

City Secret – Kuldeep Booksellers, Daryaganj

Street scene

City Secret – Kuldeep Booksellers, Daryaganj

Street scene

City Secret – Kuldeep Booksellers, Daryaganj

Street scene

City Secret – Kuldeep Booksellers, Daryaganj

Street scene

City Secret – Kuldeep Booksellers, Daryaganj

Store scene

City Secret – Kuldeep Booksellers, Daryaganj

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Capital News – The Delhi Walla Gets Jane Austen-ised

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Becoming Jane

An honour too good to be true.

[Picture by Rahul Sabharwal; text by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Is there a greater delight than being referred to in a book on Jane Austen? The Delhi Walla can no longer defer his raptures. In April, 2009, UK’s Canongate Books published Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World. Written by Jane Austen scholar Ms Claire Harman, this is a "history of Jane Austen's fame, the changing status of her work and what it has stood for, or been made to stand for, in English culture in the two hundred years since her death."

The book has received rave reviews in the best of UK newspapers like Sunday Telegraph, Guardian, Independent, Time Literary Supplement and more.

In the book's preface, Ms Harman has talked about yours truly. Here are the excerpts:

An ardent Indian blogger with a tribute middle name, Mayank Austen Soofi, has imagined what it would be like if his dream of establishing a Jane Austen Society in Delhi came true:

Each Sunday evening, after completing their purchases in Daryaganj’s Sunday Book Bazaar, Austen admirers would gather in front of Urdu Bazaar and sit on the Jama Masjid stairs. Over doodh-waali chai and biskut, they would enjoy and appreciate Austen’s novels. There would also be a guest of honour at each meet. For instance, firangi backpackers from the unsanitary bowels of Paharganj would be invited to share how Delhi belly keeps them ‘in a continual state of inelegance’ while residents of North Delhi would complain of snobbish south Delhi’s myopic belief that their Delhi is the only Delhi (ah, ‘one half of the world cannot understand the pleasures of the other’). . . . The society would also occasionally conduct walking tours in the city where you might pretend as if you are strolling the grassy verdant grounds of England, and not the sunny smoggy steamy lanes of Delhi. You can also hop by landmarks like Ghalib’s haveli in Ballimaran and recite his verses as passionately as Marianne Dashwood recited Shakespeare’s in Sense and Sensibility.


Thank you, Ms Harman. You are kind.

At the time of writing this piece, the book has still not hit the Delhi stores. Not done.

Friday, July 24, 2009

City Season – The Rain, 23/7

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One Rainy Afternoon

One afternoon in Delhi.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

It was over in half an hour. In the late afternoon of July 23rd, 2009, clouds suddenly gathered over the Delhi sky, a dust storm followed, trees fell and then a furious downpour drenched almost the entire city, which had been reeling under a dry spell due to a disappointing monsoon season.

Ms Marina Bang, a South African national who spends her hours writing a book at her rented bungalow in Jor Bagh, was pleasantly surprised. She and her two friends immediately decided to take a walk in the Lodhi Garden, just across the road. Since they had only one torn umbrella, they all ended up wet. “But we had to enjoy the monsoon,” exclaimed Ms Bang. “It was exhilarating.” The entire party later gathered at Ms Bang’s book-lined living room for tea and home-made chocolate mousse.

When the Jor Bagh author was taking her rain walk in Lodhi Garden, fashion stylist Mr Rishi Raj was running into the shelter of an ancient mansion in Old Delhi. He was busy in the shoot of an advertisement campaign for an NGO in Chawri Bazaar. Just before the D-moment, the entire team was outside a haveli with a turquoise-blue wall and an ornately carved wooden entrance door. That door was the backdrop of a sequence where a “convent-educated kid was teaching lessons to slum children.” Just then the storm began, the wind howled, the rain started. The shooting was called off and Mr Raj ran in.

“I found myself in this stunning courtyard where an old woman, safely ensconced on a dry spot, was watching the rain falling,” recalled the stylist. “The place was all misty, the water was coming to me in sprays and it was just so beautiful.”

A little later, Mr Raj went out and was back in the chaotic Chawri Bazaar with its zig-zaggy electric wires, its noise, and there were the children dancing in the rain. “Then I saw a girl in the balcony of another haveli,” Mr Raj added. “She was in this worn-to-death off-white grayish kurta with her back against a pillar and though I’m gay, I thought it quite erotic.”

Mr Raj was naturally dressed stylishly - pale pink Iggy Pop T-shirt, Benetton jeans, Ashish Soni chappals. All got soaked. “The monsoon in Old Delhi is something else,” Mr Raj swooned. “I’ve never felt this kinda wetness seeping into the soul ever before.”

While the stylist's soul was getting stirred up, Mr David Boyk, a student of UC Berkeley, California, in town to research on urban migration, almost missed the rain. He was in the underground metro train, somewhere between Mandi House and Chandni Chowk, on way to Hardayal Municipal Library. “I was earlier at Sahitya Akademy looking for a Bengali book called Kalkatta Rahasya published in 1925,” said Mr Boyk. A non-practicing Jew, he speaks Bengali, Urdu, Hindi, English; also a little Spanish, German and Latin.

Walking to the Mandi House metro station, Mr Boyk did spot some clouds in the distance but thought nothing of them. “However, when I reached the Chandni Chowk stop,” he said, “I moticed a long line of people on the stairs.” Waiting for the showers to slow down, a young man approached Mr Boyk for an assistance of Rs 100. The research scholar obliged and then walked out, hopping through puddles, before stopping by a street-side food stall to have dahi bhallas.

As Mr Boyk feasted on Chandni Chowk’s chaat, Ms Anamika Chatterjee, a media professional recovering from a 19-hour-long work shift, was getting drenched on the terrace of her two-room flat in Paschim Vihar. She had no choice. As soon as the rain started, the power went off. Since her inverter, too, was out of order, the fans were not working, making the indoor feel hot and humid. “I’d no option but to go out and enjoy the rain,” Ms Chatterjee said. "If there was power, I would had sat inside and listened to the sound of the rain instead.”

Even as all these people were sportingly braving the elements, Ms Vasantha Angamuthu, who holds a prestigious post in a prestigious Connaught Place skyscraper, was busy working at her first floor office room. The shutters were drawn against the windows. When The Delhi Walla asked about the rain, she cried, “It rained! When?”

When it rained

One Rainy Afternoon

When it rained

One Rainy Afternoon

When it rained

One Rainy Afternoon

Monday, July 20, 2009

Photo Essay – Once Delhi, Now Delhi

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Once Delhi, Now Delhi

The city down the decades.

[Text by Mayank Austen Soofi]

The Delhi Walla discovered these grainy images in the archives of LIFE magazine. Nothing is known about the years when these pictures were taken. But the life seen in these frames are proof enough that much has changed in this city down the decades.

Once when the 2 Up Kalka Mail would steam into Delhi through the old Yamuna bridge, your grandfather would turn right and see the grand Metcalfe House. Now, when the electricity-powered superfast Kalka Shatabdi Express zooms into the Capital, you won’t be able to see that building, thanks to the concrete that has sprung up on its compound.

Once Kashmire Gate was home to the workshop of the legendary tailor Mr Mohammed Umar who stitched sherwanis for eminent Delhiwallas like Mr Jawaharlal Nehru. The Inter State Bus Terminus (ISBT), Kashmere Gate's most defining landmark, had yet to come up. Now, the place boast of the first McDonald’s that opened within the premises of the Delhi Metro.

Once there was a tram service in Delhi. It had started in 1903, the year electricity arrived in the city. 18 years later, Delhi had 24 tramcars and 15 km of track. From Jama Masjid, the trams would putter along Esplanade Road, down Chandni Chowk, towards Fatehpuri Masjid, and from there to Sadar Bazaar. Another line would sneak out from Jama Masjid and snake through Chawri Bazaar, Hauz Kazi, Lal Kuan, before turning to Fatephpuri. Now, there are no trams.

Once Delhi’s tree-lined diplomatic avenues had Hindustan Fourteen, Landmaster and Hillman running on them. They gave way to Standard Heralds, Fiats, Ambassadors, and then to Marutis. Now, Toyotas, Landcruisers, BMWs and Indiacs rule the roads.

Once DTC was called DTU (Delhi Transport Under-taking). No bus was allowed to carry more than its capacity of seated people and - at the most, 12 standing passengers. The legend is that author Mr Nirad C. Chaudhuri walked from his office at All India Radio (AIR) to his home in Mori Gate rather than wait for a bus that would take no new passengers since it was already ‘full’. Now, DTC buses are as crowded as chicken coops with people hanging out from the doors.

Once Khan Market just had Bahrisons and Faqir Chand for booklovers, the ‘dairy stores’ for daily essentials, Carryhom ice-cream parlour for children, and Alfina restaurant for serious diners. Now, there are twice the bookstores, two Big Chills, two Chonas, several more cafés, several designer boutiques, and a free parking service with insufficient parking space.

Once Nizamuddin railway station had just two trains stopping by for exactly four minutes. Now, it is a noisy junction with trains shuttling all day long.

Once Chawri Bazaar was famous as an iron market. Now it is the destination to buy wedding cards and bathroom fittings.

Once the city had eight-seater phatphatiyas for commute. Now, it has three-seater CNG autos.

Once (July, 1959) Mr Che Guevara came to Delhi for two days and stayed in the Ashoka Hotel. Now (July, 2009), Ms Hillary Clinton come visiting for four days and stays in the Taj Palace Hotel.

Once, during the early 40s, the Indian Coffee House used to be on Janpath where it served doughnuts and coffee to American GIs. In the 60s, it moved to where the Palika Parking is today and started serving idli-dosa to the city’s ‘intellectuals’. Now, it is in Mohan Singh Place, frequented by old fuddy-duddies, and in danger of being shut down.

Yes darling, this is Delhi.

Once upon a time in Delhi...

Once Delhi, Now Delhi

Once upon a time in Delhi...

Once Delhi, Now Delhi

Once upon a time in Delhi...

Once Delhi, Now Delhi

Once upon a time in Delhi...

Once Delhi, Now Delhi

Once upon a time in Delhi...

Once Delhi, Now Delhi

Once upon a time in Delhi...

Once Delhi, Now Delhi

Once upon a time in Delhi...

Once Delhi, Now Delhi

Once upon a time in Delhi...

Once Delhi, Now Delhi

Once upon a time in Delhi...

Once Delhi, Now Delhi

Friday, July 17, 2009

City Personals – Matchmaking in Delhi

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Spring Love

They all are well-known people.

[Compiled by Mayank Austen Soofi]

The city blogsite is starting a personals section for its readers. This inaugural edition has classifieds sent in by the Capital's reasonably well-known people on the condition that their identities will not be disclosed. However, if you keep abreast of the society gossip, it won’t be tough to untangle who is who. In most cases, that is. (Scroll to the bottom to find how to e-mail your classified).

ATTRACTIVE, AWARD-WINNING dancer, married to a foreign diplomat currently posted in North Africa, seeks a charming, intelligent middle-aged man well versed with Indian culture. Pandara Road area preferred.

SHARP, BEAUTIFUL butch lesbian, belonging to a very powerful political family. Conveniently married to a New Friends Colony gay man. Two children. Seeks a like-minded but sober woman in 30s. Secrecy must. Great if you are into Buddhism and Dalai Lama.

SLIGHTLY WEIRD, SLIGHTLY HYSTERICAL, culture-loving, big-time newspaper editor, looking to share evening drinks at the India International Center bar. You must be childless and into eastern philosophy. Sex not ruled out.

BEARDED, HEALTHY, Enfield-riding, divorced publisher, owner of a South Delhi bookshop, searching for a single woman for conversations, dinners and more. Preferably someone living in or around Kailash Colony. Punjabi speaking? No bar.

SLIM, CLEAN-SHAVEN, TV presenter, obsessively discreet but wears makeup on very special occasions, based in Green Park, heavily into western classical music, with a subscription to BBC Music magazine. Visit Vienna annually. You need be young, smooth and a willing boy. Location no problem.

AGED, LEGENDARY author and a widower seeking an attractive, intellectually curious, bright, passionate, literature-loving, but not bookish-looking woman who can come to my apartment, near Khan Market, daily from 7pm to 8pm for scotch, canapés and gossip. Must be willing to brave the hostility of my next-door daughter and grand-daughter.

CUTE, ENGLISH BOI, from London, based in Huaz Khas Village. Blue eyes, funky hair, working in writing and Bollywood. Vacuous on the outside but deep within. Looking for Dostana with the next Shahid Kapur.

BEAUTIFUL, BORED, middle-aged, Defence Colony wife of a foreign-service bureaucrat seeks a well-informed young man for company and whatever may happen next.

HANDSOME, WELL-BUILT stylist with a bachelor’s pad in Noida, looking for a heartbreakingly handsome, obscenely rich, super-sensitive lover. Great if you are thin or have salt ‘n’ pepper hair or both.

DARGAH-HOPPING, KHAN MARKET JUNKIE, collector of old Jewish cookbooks, chicken pox veteran, seeks a good-looking booklover. Don’t bother if you hate Arundhati Roy.

Do you wish to send in your classified? Make sure it shows the best of you and is clear on just what kind of person you are looking for. Don’t forget to add in your neighbourhood’s name. Mail to mayankaustensoofi@gmail.com. And yes, we'll need to display your e-mail id!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Travel Notepad - Udaipur, "The World's Best City for Travellers"

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Cheers

Weekend getaway in Rajasthan.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

In July, 2009, an online poll by Travel+Leisure magazine voted Udaipur, a Rajasthani lake town about a night’s train journey away from Delhi, as the “world’s best city for travellers.”

Now, now, the credibility of online polls must always be taken with a barrel of salt. But The Delhi Walla, who spent a June weekend in Udaipur, could understand the sincerity of that poll. Yes, the city is pretty. Ditto, its people. But perhaps what makes Udaipur ‘best’, and entertaining, is its Indian English, a language that is not foreign to us Delhiwallas. Check out the pictures.


Holy ATM

Holy ATM!

'Chienese'

Chienese!

All's possible!

Women Only!

Learn to 'Relex'

Relex!

Restaurant-cum-'Massage' Center!

Massage Center!

'Propsperous', at Udaipur's international airport!

Propsperous!

And now why Udaipur's so lovely

Somewhere in Udaipur, Rajasthan

And now why Udaipur's so lovely

Somewhere in Udaipur, Rajasthan

And now why Udaipur's so lovely

Somewhere in Udaipur, Rajasthan

And now why Udaipur's so lovelySomewhere in Udaipur, Rajasthan

And now why Udaipur's so lovely

Somewhere in Udaipur, Rajasthan

And now why Udaipur's so lovely

A 'Typical' Rajput Man

And now why Udaipur's so lovely

A 'Typical' Rajput Woman

And now why Udaipur's so lovely

Somewhere in Udaipur, Rajasthan

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

City Landmark – Khan Market Metro Stop

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Metro Dreams

The Metro would change Delhi's face after a few more years - and accidents.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

A person does not belong to a place until he has someone dead under the ground. Does that apply to Delhi Metro, too? On the Sunday morning of July 12th, 2009, a pillar on the partially constructed Metro bridge in the tony GK-I suddenly collapsed killing six.

This was not the first tragedy in the short history of Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC). On another Sunday, in 2008, a chunk of the under-construction Metro flyover had come crushing over a blueline bus in Lakshmi Nagar killing its driver.

However, these accidents, horrible as they were, would be just a dot in the commemorative One Hundred Years of Delhi Metro.

In fact, the landmark occasion that made Delhi Metro truly Delhi’s was not even that cold December morning in 2002 when the Metro rail first ran for about five miles from Shahdara to Tees Hazari. The D-moment instead fell on 9.20am, July 18th, 2006, when Ms Paramjit Singh Kaur, 25, the resident of Ganesh Nagar in Janakpuri, jumped onto the Metro tracks from platform number two of the Chandni Chowk station, thereby stopping the traffic on the Central Secretariat-Vishwavidyalaya route for over 40 minutes.

That was the first suicide on Delhi Metro.

Suicide, of course, is an extremely private act of ultimate despair usually carried out in the seclusion of locked bedrooms. But when troubled souls find that sort of privacy at the top of Qutub Minar or on the underground platform of Chandni Chowk Metro station, it means that the said landmark has finally arrived. That it is now home to the city’s people.

Since then more attempts, not all successful, have taken place on the Metro tracks. But it would be unfair to judge Delhi Metro's popularity only on the suicide scale. It is increasingly finding a more acceptable cultural reference: the Delhi Metro is becoming a familiar sight in Bollywood flicks.

While there are quite a few who have raised concerns about the harm that the Metro has done to the city’s environment (thousands of trees have been chopped off) and its aesthetic appeal, there are are those who feel proud about it. After all, just how many public services in Delhi respects time, cleanliness and yes, their users?

The venerable New York Times, too, noted, “The Metro, a rare example of efficiency, punctuality and world-class engineering in a country better known for crumbling infrastructure and perpetual gridlock on its roads and in its politics, is a point of pride for New Delhi residents.”

At the time of writing this piece, the Metro has three operational lines with 45-miles of track and 68 stations. By 2010 Commonwealth Games, it hopes to add another 121 kilometers and 79 more stations.

In this breathless countdown to the Games, the city’s landscape is in the midst of a furiously-paced makeover. A few more years - and accidents - later it would be tough to imagine that once there was no Khan Market Metro stop, no Metro rail route to Noida, no elevated Metro tracks in Nehru Place, no Metro station in Saket. Just as today it is difficult to digest that once there was no Metro to Old Delhi.

Almost done

Metro Dreams

Long shade

Metro Dreams

Beauty track

Metro Dreams

Fancy this

Metro Dreams

Delhi's deepest metro stop

Delhi's Deepest Point

Suicidal?

Self in the City

Rooftop scene

Yaari Dosti

At God's feet

Hindoo Holiday

Coming out

Last Look

New Landmark

'O' is Missing