Delhi – a city described as home to everyone yet belonging to no one. I feel that that is the best feeling ever. A city that has the ability to make one feel such emotions simultaneously is quite rare. I came to live in this city ten years ago and at that time I never wanted to be a part of it; I wanted to go back home- to that sheltered, protected environment where I had grown up. Something made me stay; several years later I can’t think of living anywhere except in this city. The charm and the spell that it casts on one’s mind are indescribable. The people, the food, the history- it takes years to understand this city and I believe ages to know every nook and corner of this mysterious place. Mysterious, yes that’s the word for this city. It can make you experience different worlds as one move from one corner to another. The fascinating bit about the city being that every part is distinct from the rest.
To celebrate and to meditate about the city, Dr. Amitabh Mitra came up with the wonderful idea of publishing an anthology which talked about the city and the interesting angle that was added was that the city be described by women poets who were below the age of 30. We got a tremendous response and it took a lot of time to go through all the submissions and finally select the poets we have featured in this anthology.
It was a delight to go through all the works and each work is distinct and unique in its own way. The way this city has been described in so many beautiful ways is for you to read and be mesmerized.
Celebrate with us the city called Dilli !
I met Dr. Amitabh Mitra a few years ago through my 1978 released album “Train to Calcutta”; I was humbled by his kind words. His many artistic attributes besides being in a busy occupation of being a Doctor makes me respect him for the way he so constructively uses his time, and therefore, whenever he asks me to be a part of any project he undertakes, I only feel grateful for the faith he reposes in me. Thank you Doc!
I am so glad that Dr. Amitabh Mitra has compiled this anthology of poems on Delhi, and especially by women poets of Delhi, and that too below the age of thirty – a perspective I am really looking forward to reading.
I came to Delhi as a young boy of ten in 1960 with the little boy’s excitement of being in the capital of the country, with a sort of chip on my shoulders and that feeling that I had arrived. I have loved Delhi with all its past and its present, from the Indraprastha to the high-rising concrete and the NCR and its ever-changing chameleon temperament, but I don’t know if I really share its ethos now. Being a singer/songwriter, I always listened to the lyrical and poetic Delhi, its political and social attitudes. The city gave me so much to think and I just reacted through my urban folk songs. I am excited to read these young poets to experience the influence that Delhi has had on them.
My curiosity in reading this anthology is more because I understand that the poets are all below thirty years of age, which means they were all born in the eighties. Lots happened before then, in fact, according to me, the best time in Delhi were the seventies. It was the watershed and a milestone period which possibly dictated the modern times in India and I am curious to know if their poems are based on stories they have heard from their parents about the preceding years or are the poems typical reactions to the mid-nineties that we from the previous generations were trying to resist and the youth were trying desperately to get back and hold on to the ethos and emotions of the seventies through music and the arts.
I grew up in those dichotomous times – the Vietnam War, a tragedy of human barbarism, the moonwalk, and a technological invasion of outer space and arrogance of the human mind. There were these great movements of Women’s liberation, Leila Khaled’s of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine ( PFLP) hijacking of a plane, Marianne Faithfull’s assertion of female sexuality, and the turbulence of the Naxal uprising. On the more gentle side of human emotions, there were the Hippies, a community that grouped together to resist consumerism and materialism in their developed nations and who came to India looking for Nirvana through transcendental meditation. New concepts of Spirituality and, Universality came about while an undercurrent of the corporate market was slowly raising its ugly head. People like Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and so many others were singing in support and in solidarity with young people. It was our first attempt at globalisation, not through the market but through people.
Emotionally Delhi has always fascinated me and always will, perhaps because it is the seat of power and it dictates the governance of this huge and diverse nation. I came to Delhi with its big houses, wide avenues and beautiful historical monuments. I lived in Delhi witnessing the enormous changes that were taking place and changing its social patterns. I anguish over Delhi’s aspiration of becoming a Super “A” Capital and completely ignoring life.
As a songwriter/singer I have sung about the vibrancy of Janpath in the 70’s, I have sung about the children huddled together around a fire while others danced at nightclubs in five star hotels on Christmas and New Year’s eve. I have sung about the various voices needing to be heard in protest for the rights of people. And I have sung about the great epic Mahabharata which this city experienced many centuries ago.
I am excited about the relationship of these modern poets with this great city and how they perceive it through their poems. And I am sure; they have re-lived the decade before them through their parents, who grew up in the dichotomous times that I have mentioned.
Really looking forward to the book and thanking Amitabh for his thought.
Art by Amitabh Mitra
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