India’s much-celebrated unity in diversity is best reflected in its Capital city, Delhi. Though it’s predominantly a Punjabi city, over the years it has become truly cosmopolitan in character. Of the communities that add colour to the city are those that hail from the south of India.
“When a Saravana Bhavan or a Nalli sets up shop in a city, you know that the south Indians have finally arrived,” chuckles Srinivasan Iyenger, an RK Puram resident.
A hallmark of areas populated by south Indians is the signature south Indian temples. These temples have been places of great activity.
The south Indian temples also play host to a large variety of community activities, which range from initiation ceremonies and marriages to lectures and meditation classes.
There are many cultural associations promoting their culture. “Apart from other things, we even provide matrimonial services free to Telugu people settled here,” says Saikrishna of the Delhi Telugu Sangham. The four states have thriving film industries and so people have even found ways to catch up with them here in Delhi. Films are screened at various auditoriums. Karnataka Sangeetha Sabha screens films free off cost.
Almost every locality in Delhi now boasts of a south Indian store, more often than not called Rama Store. These are stores where you can get not only the fiery “gunpowder” that accompanies idlis and dosas, but also the dosa batter itself.
“Delhi’s south Indian stores have come a far way from being the only place where ‘Madrasis’ could procure the sela chawal necessary to make idli batter and now most sell the batter by the kilo, neatly sealed in plastic bags with a date of manufacture and expiry,” says Kadambini, a resident of Munirka.
Small messes for south Indian students are currently mushrooming around coaching centres, as the number of students coming to Delhi for coaching increases over the years. “A dosa even in a small hotel will cost nothing less than Rs 40, but in these Tamil messes, we get it for Rs 10,” says Arvind Kannan, who is a regular at Kathirvel Tiffin Centre tucked away in a Munirka bylane.
Even for the south Indian tourists coming in, there are south Indian travel agents to take care of them.