One of the favourite topics of story tellers, bloggers and anecdote writers is nostalgia- especially about “good old days” and the cities and places where they would have spent a large part of their childhood. This is normal as most of us have indeed very sweet memories of our childhood and the place where most of it was spent. I have seen people talking about the good old days in almost all the cities- Kolkata, Delhi, Chennai , Lahore, Karachi ( as I can read Urdu, I sometimes follow Pakistani newspapers, which are also replete with nostalgia of the past) and especially Mumbai. Someone like me, who made Mumbai his hometown much later in 2001 in my 40s, also frequently feels nostalgic about the Mumbai of yore – the charm of Fort area ( in mess currently due to ongoing Metro work), heritage buildings with gothic architecture ( many of these seem to be under perpetual repair and renovation), hustle and bustle at Nariman Point ( no longer a financial hub- BKC emerging as a new hub), absolutely scenic Marine Drive ( again out of shape thanks to coastal road work), closure of several iconic joints – Parsi-Iranian restaurants, cafes, bakeries, Kwality, Purohit thali, Cafe Samovar etc. and decline in traffic discipline.
I also have similar feeling about Delhi, my birthplace, where I grew up and spent my entire childhood and adolescence – a quaint, green, relaxed place of 60s and 70s that has since metamorphosed into a megapolis with all the usual problems.
However, here I would like to present a slightly different perspective to this much cherished but sometimes a bit hyped emotion. Delhi of yore had lots of problems. It’s local transport was unreliable and erratic till 1974 when Greenline service with Central Secretariat as hub was introduced. Till 80s, the power supply used to be marred by cuts and load shedding and people used to talk about good position in Mumbai. There were only two bridges linking rest of Delhi to Trans Yamuna area and sometimes the traffic jam on the old British era bridge was nightmarish. Autos and taxis were either not available or had tampered meters, charging unreasonable fares.
In contrast, Delhi of today boasts of world class metro network, elaborate flyovers, e rickshaws that are affordable and pollution free, fleet of AC buses all running on CNG, Airport that handles more flights per day than any other airport in the country, a consistent power supply and host of eating and outing options.
To change the perspective again, may be we feel nostalgic about the simplicity, less materialism, leisureliness, more time for relationships and sheer delight in the things that would today look a mere passé!