ESSAYS: Control and Aspiration

On my parents’ Delhi, and mine

(Seminar / December 2011)

OLD Mr Gupta is resolute. ‘Down that road,’ he motions. ‘Past our godown. Jungle.’

I’m sitting in his lumber shop in Bhogal, where he holds court and dispenses advice. The wood is market price. Counsel is free.

I am, as are many people in this booming New Delhi, a supplicant at the altar of home improvement. My carpenter Irshad sits beside me as we suck down Guptaji’s tea and memories. The old gentleman arrived in Bhogal pre-independence. The earliest papers he still has on a property here date from 1952. His son, who sits beside him, his own white hair a nice contrast to his daddy’s steadfastly black mop, nods. ‘Delhi’s first rehabilitation colony,’ he says proudly. I don’t know enough to contest that, so I nod along. ‘Partition refugees, right,’ I ask. Read more…

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