The train dropped me at Nizamuddin,
The breath of the city drank my soul,
I am here to find my beloved Dilli,
In this scorching heat, away from Simla’s cool,
Trades and traders, merchants galore,
The jingling of coins same as sweet Bombay,
Not coins, but, I am here to hear the azaan,
It soothes all senses, I heard them say,
The huge buildings fascinate me not,
Come on! It’s Bombay from where I am!
I am here to see the lowly temples,
Here to taste chaat, not burgers with ham,
I see all people busy with themselves,
Where is the Dilli of famed graciousness?
I see a modern city, but not the old towns,
That had the mighty Mughals obsessed,
From Balli Maran to Kucha Chelaan,
From Chandni Chowk to Dariba Kalan,
I roamed all around and in the end,
The emergence of a thought begun,
O where is that place where history lives?
Is it lost in the crowd of urban craze?
What cruel people have eaten it?
The Dilli, still in my memory unfazed.
Where is the Dilli Zauq couldn’t leave?
The Dilli that Zafar and Ghalib visit,
Lost in the race, that sweet old wine,
Has lost its taste, retains lesser spirit.
(First published in Muse India)