The more things change, the more they remain the same. The unique quirks, characteristics and problems that we associate with New Delhi today, were very much present even 100 years ago.
The imperial Capital of British Raj was one of the most planned and feted cities of its time, but it faced civic problems from day one, some of which still trouble Delhiites in the 21st century. Traffic chaos was one of the biggest issues besides lack of public transport in this ‘city of long distances’. Even way back in 1935, the Hindustan Times carried a series of articles on the ‘ugly traffic scenes in the city’. Dug up roads and blockades were problematic enough for furious readers to write angry letters to the newspaper.
If autowallahs are the scourge of Delhi today, rapacious taxi drivers and tongawallahs on strike managed to get our goat 80 years ago.
The crime graph in New Delhi started spiralling even before the Capital was properly settled, as is
evident from the large number of thefts and robberies reported. As per government records, the then Legislative Council witnessed hot debates over the rising crime figures. The number of policemen, too, has been increasing correspondingly every year from 1915 to 1935.
We, Delhiites, haven’t changed much either. India Gate lawns were the favourite hangout zone for Delhiites 70 years ago, and so was our habit of spitting at every wall, corner and crevice.
Today, we take a look at some of the essential Delhi-isms unique to the Capital and its people.