Don't teach me law and legalities. I have grandsons of your age,” says grumpy S N Saxena, a stamp agent and deed writer, as he confronts a young client at his 200-year-old shop in Chawri Bazaar.
The 80-year-old, an eighth generation deed writer, is bitter about the present, but has fond memories of his past. “We used to sit and work in the Lal Quila complex until the British displaced us and threw us to this bazaar,” he says, as he shows the framed stamp papers belonging to the Mughal era hung on his shop walls.
His forefathers took up this profession in 1812, and ever since it has flown in their blood. “Things have changed. Computerised stamp papers are available now. But back then stamps were carved out on paper. Those times were much more authentic, with no forgery,” he adds, as he flips through files of stained old stamp papers. As a proof of the lost heritage of his trade, he also pulls out a stamp paper of 19th century from the archives.
“The market was nothing like this before. Till about 40 years ago, it was only frequented by businessmen. There were food stalls, but hardly anyone ate there,” says Saxena, a resident of old Delhi area.
With the passage of time, Saxena has witnessed and braved the changes in Chawri Bazaar. His shop is frequented by about 15-20 clients every day. They visit him not only for stamp papers and getting the legal deeds written, but also for legal queries and counselling. His shop opens at 10am daily and he retires back home around 8pm.