The Essence of Delhi – Short Stories/Essays About Delhi

I lived in Delhi for all of my conscious life. But I do not believe I am a Delhi Walla. At this stage, there are very few people with the essence of Delhi.

There is much said and written about this mystique city. But it will never be enough.

As the city has been destroyed and rebuilt many times, the spirit of Delhi never dies.

The Aleph Publication has collected some best literature written around the city and published them as the book. I happened to make a good decision when I decided to read them.

Each story is distinct, showing a distinguished side of Delhi.

From magical realism to realistic fiction, stories varied from different genres and keeps you engaged, and entertained.

Delhi Quotes

There are Twelve stories in the collection. Some are essays.

Let’s see a few of them:

Perpetual City by Malvika Singh

It gives a good start to the story. Malvika Singh’s Perpetual City works an intro to the book.

The essays tell about the foundation of Delhi and how it was destroyed and rebuilt.

Malvika Singh writes that Delhi, the city of today, sits on the last bloody layer of the century. 

Building on the remains of the past, dreaming of a possible future is what makes Delhi, Delhi.

A Death in Delhi by Kamaleshwar

I have read the story in Hindi. I think some of the cruelness of the writing is lost in translation, but the translation could never be as good as the original.

But the translator is successful to evoke the emotions of the reader.

The story is about a person trying to not get involved in the funeral and then doing it. It is tough to make sense of the subject of the story, with a single read. But you will get it.

Delhi by Khushwant Singh

Khushwant Singh has described the Delhi in one pretty sentence:

In Delhi, death and drink make life worth living.

Khushwant Singh compares Delhi with his mistress, and it fits, as there are many lovers of Delhi. But Delhi doesn’t love anyone. Delhi give time to everyone, everyone has a different picture of Delhi, different purpose. 

And even that mistress is lost. Khushwant tries to find her, but it is tough to find Delhi in Delhi.

Khushwant Singh Quotes

City of Djinns by William Dalrymple

It is the shortest one in the book. And a very very interesting one.

A Sufi tells why the Delhi city is surviving after all the wars and destruction.

The answer is – Djinns

God created two types of life to worship Him – Humans and Djinns.

Djinns like the Delhi city so much that, they never let it go to ruin. So every time human species tries to destroy it, Djinns restore it.

Signs by Nirmal Verma

It is the partition story. You cannot write any book about any Indian city history, without mentioning the Partition. It is such a great event that it has become inspiration-motivation-reason of many novels-stories-dramas-movies-plays and much more artistic form.

Signs by Nirmal Verma happens in Delhi. As the story suggests, the signs of partition were there, but not the real picture. Very much like Anita Desai.

It is a story of friendship and a budding relationship. It is the innocent story, behind which the bloodiest event is hiding.

He had always found it strange- when you are alone, you can actually see the words you spoke with others.

God’s Own Street Food by Pamela Timms

Talk of Delhi can never be complete without talking about the delicious street food of Chandni Chowk and Jama Masjid.

The story is about the writer trying to find the recipe of popular Daulat ki Chaat. Made by a resident of Moradabad, Daulat ki Chaat is among the top tasty dish of Delhi.

But no one tells the writer the recipe of it.

In the end, she got lucky and finds out the recipe. And what she found is she likes most. 

In general, cases, when you get what you want, your excitement released a bit, in the case of Delhi, your excitement increases with every new information of Delhi.

The Delhi city never disappoints. It is one Essence of Delhi.

the essence of delhi

Death of A Proofreader

In Delhi, there is a place called ‘Daryaganj. It is near Ansari Road. It will not be wrong to say that it is a hub of publication Industry.

Major publication houses, like Penguin and Harper, have their offices on the Ansari road at some point. Later they all shifted to more office areas, but still, now, you find books with the address of Ansari Road.

I have few books.

Daryganj is big market of books. Sort of the street market, but it is still the best location to shop for books.


Documentary Daryaganj Book Market

The story talks about a proofreader, a good one, which is tough to find nowadays.

I read books, and I find lots of error. The reasons for such laziness in work due to the no love for the work. I should not say this, but people are doing the reading and editing as a job.

Reading, Editing, Proofreading – People used to do that to help the authors to write a great story. In exchange, they get paid. 

The death of proofreader might be the indication that how the quality of good proofreaders is dying in the publishing industry of Delhi.

I like the story.

About the Book

The book is published under the Aleph Olio Edition. 

With pretty looking cover and smooth pages, the book is collectible and affordable for Delhi lovers as well as short story lovers.

Just look how pretty the book looks.

[Pics in Editing]

There are other stories and essays in books. But I did not mention all.

You need to read yourself.

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The Essence of Delhi

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the essence of delhi book review

Faizan Fahim

Hello, welcome to this blog. Just writing reviews of the book I like. Also, favorite quotes, poetry, memes, sometimes other topics too, but always related to literature. So join me on Twitter to talk to me.

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