Going through chandni chowk and it’s various little gulley’s is a favourite pastime for me and my husband. We would hop on a Delhi metro and shoot off, the moment we find we have a day to ourselves and are not needed to do some errand for the family or go the kids school or run to some other event.
We prefer taking the Delhi metro to this place because one we cannot dream of getting our car into the unmanageable little roads and get stuck in traffic for endless hours. It also gives a breather to my husband who is the only one in our family who can drive right now.
So, on a nice sunny winter day, we set off to be part of the busy streets, hawkers, vendors, chai wallahs, the street food guys. It is an interesting mix of people and buildings, old and new, all intermingled with each other that they still maintain an individuality yet look so distinct.
A person probably visiting for the first time might not find this place interesting at all. I used to be like that. I hated going there amongst the dirt and the chaos, amidst people jostling with each other to get ahead, people screaming at the top of their voices, a mayhem of cycle rikshaws, auto-rickshaws, car, scooter and hoards of people all getting into each others way and nerves.
I only had to make 2 or 3 visits with my husband to really understand the depth of these places. Once you get into a gulley or a lane, the varieties of a single aspect displayed was simply mind boggling. Now, I sometimes simply go there to open up my horizon, of my understanding of what all things are available there.
There is a lane dedicated to only gems and stones. Another lane would be selling only buttons and embellishments. On one lane, you will simply find laces, rows of shops selling different coloured, different styles of laces. There is a lane for bicycle parts, one lane for clothes, one for sarees, one for dry fruits and nuts, spices….. The list just goes on.. Everytime we go, we choose a different lane to explore.
This old Delhi used to be the only Delhi people knew some 30 to 40 years back. By now though the boundaries of Delhi has expanded to beyond Gurgaon on the south and Noida on the west, Rohini on the north, etc. But when you visit old Delhi, you would not imagine that Delhi has expanded so much. Life goes on as it used to couple of decades before. It is as if time stood still somewhere in those periods for Chandni Chowk while the others moved on!