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Delhiwale: A jeweller’s true treasure, his classic tools

A Walled City jeweller who works from his home has with him the kind of tools that have largely disappeared

delhi Updated: May 23, 2018 08:46 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Delhiwale,Gali Sayyedan,Jeweller's tools
The workshop of jeweller Muhammed Azhar in Delhi’s Walled City is a kind of museum of objects barely seen these days .(HT photo)

Not very often in Delhi will you find jewellers still using the classic tools of their trade. One of them is Muhammed Azhar, whose workshop is a kind of museum of objects barely seen these days — the small room is actually a part of his home on Gali Sayyedan in the Walled City.

At the moment he’s working on a necklace, carving some gold-plated silver on a wooden apparatus he calls a “kunda”. “In the old days, jewellers used a device like this, but you can’t even lay your hands on one of these anymore,” explains Mr Azhar, who is in his late 40s.

He’s got the tool resting on a block of wood called a “mudda” that resembles the stumpy blocks you normally find in butcher shops. “That’s the base we use when we carve jewels, and it, too, has almost vanished from the workplaces of jewellers .”

He is explaining this when his young daughter suddenly enters the workshop with her brothers and immediately becomes the centre of attention. Giving her a hug, Mr Azhar says he isn’t certain what his three children will do when they grow up.

In his own case he didn’t follow in his father’s calling as a kebab cook. “So, I learned how to make jewels from Idris Mian,” he says referring to a master of the art, who lives nearby.

Soon, the jeweller’s wife sends ‘chai’ from the kitchen upstairs. A few minutes later, he returns to the work at hand.


For an earlier generation, this vast restaurant chain was one of the few places in the city where you would, maybe, have tiffs or reconciliations with friends or lovers over snacks and soft drinks. And, lest we forget, here you would try out an American banana split for the very first time. While also developing a sinful relationship with the Nirula’s legendary hot chocolate fudge.

As late as 2010, you found more than 80 Nirula’s across the city. Every neighbourhood worth its salt just had to have one.

Now only four outlets remain, and perhaps that’s no loss for the millennials as the city has so many other cafe chains and burger outlets.

In 2010, you found more than 80 Nirula’s across the city. Now only four outlets remain.

This afternoon, only a few tables are occupied in the Nirula’s at Gole Market. Two women in the corner are bonding over a pizza dripping with cheese, while a turbaned gentleman and his friend has just placed an order for paneer makhani.

This windy evening being back at Nirula’s — with that signature ‘N’s’ painted in red across the glass windows — is like a brief return to an older Delhi with single-screen cinema halls and cheap bus tickets. The maximum you’d pay for a bus ride on those deadly Blue Lines was a mere ͉5: And the Metro system didn’t exist. For people in south Delhi heading to the Nirula’s at Chankaya theatre (the original one that doesn’t exist any more), there were torturously long traffic bottlenecks at AIIMS — the smooth flyover came much later.

In many ways, despite having so few Nirula’s, Delhi has become so livable.

But some things remain the same. At Gole Market’s sleepy Nirula’s you can summon the spirit of an earlier Delhi. And you can still order a hot chocolate fudge double scoop. As it happens, it still comes with finely chopped nuts, still served in a tall glass with a long spoon, and still with the taste of a Delhi that’s gone.

First Published: May 23, 2018 08:46 IST