Pocket Delhi

  • Manjula Narayan
  • India
  • Feb 17, 2012

 Ajay Jain, the man behind the Kunzum Cafe in Hauz Khas Village – that quaint meeting place that allows you to pay what you please for your cup of coffee and biscuits -- has written the very useful Delhi 101. Rather honestly described as “an incomplete illustrated must-do guide to Delhi”, this slim volume is a neat and welcome addition to the long list of books on this magnificent eternal city. While most of the others are bogged down by the author’s need to appear like a resident expert,  this one stands out for its lack of pretension – and its resolute refusal to be stodgy and boring. A city’s monuments may be spectacular, its historical sights – the step wells, forts and traditional markets – works of wonder, but it is the people that make a place what it is. Jain has clearly understood this. As a result, Delhi 101 has many fascinating personalities – like Pappu Pahalwan, the wrestler who doubles up as a doctor; and Roshan Lall, who lives on the street in Chandni Chowk. Then, there are the rather droll ‘institutions’ like Sablok Clinic in Darya Ganj; that has been promising to cure everything—from hairy palms to venereal disease—for generations. The excerpt from the Clinic’s website, that advises young men on the correct way to conduct themselves on their honeymoon, especially provides much mirth: “You must know the code of decency and observe good manners and need not be in a reckless hurry about sexual union, otherwise this happy occasion may turn into an unlucky night”.  Delhi 101 is a convenient size, and you can whip it out as you set off in search of the perfect jalebi; or attempt to fit yourself with a zany Rajesh Khanna inspired wig at the Lareesa Hair Cutting Saloon; or check out the exploits of wrestlers at the city’s numerous akharas. It is written in a style that’s easily accessible, by someone who knows the capital, and has a gentle sense of humour too. Jain says the resident bats of Ugrasen ki Baoli will oblige photographers with a grin when they see a flash-light go pop. Delhi 101 is a definite must buy… even if you think you’re familiar with the city. Because surely you didn’t know where and how to engage an authentic wedding band; or how to be part of a Ha Ha yoga club!

Delhi 101

Author: Ajay Jain


PRICE: Rs. 395

Genre: Travel and Adventure


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