Thursday, June 25, 2009

Sellling 10 rupees for 12- this is Old Delhi.


On the side-walks of the congested Chandni Chowk, the old curiosity shop is selling new glittering coins. Sitting on the pavement, Arun Aggarawal, 31, sells Indian money to Indians and is making profit out of it. And he is not alone; all the money changers and old coin sellers are onto this new business and it is thriving. The new ten and five rupee-coins from the RBI which haven’t yet been seen in the open are being sold in Chandni Chowk for Rs 12 and Rs 7 respectively as a dozen policemen book some illegal bike parkers just metres away.

The till-now-unseen ten rupee coins dated as 2006 and 2008 issued by RBI have not been circulated till now and when people see the shiny steel and copper coloured coin all along Chandni Chowk, they can’t resist buying it. “It is unique and I will show this coin to everyone because no one has seen it yet. It first thought it was a fake but now I know it is real but that doesn’t mean I will spend it,” says Vineet Bhardawaj, 24, an Employee in a MNC, moments after buying two coins worth Rs 20 for 24. “I know it sounds stupid but this is a collector’s item.”

The ten-rupee-coin has been minted in 2006 but not yet seen in the market. The 8 grams bi-metallic coin with Nickel- Copper on one side and ferrous steel on the other designed by National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad with the theme of Unity in Diversity is the black markets open heaven right now. When asked by The Newsline why the coins had not been circulated properly in the market, Raghu Raj, spokesperson of the RBI said he had no idea that this was happening and refused to comment .

Outside the Geeta studio in Chandni Chowk, a thickset man in his fifties squats besides two bowls full of these new coins perched on a small table. First, the coins attract few people and the people attract more people and soon the entrance to the studio is barred and curiosity shop is in bloom. The discoloured Victoria’s are pushed back, Lincoln’s semi hidden and even the rusted ones are discarded. It is the new coins which are attracting crowds.

“Which country’s coin is this”? asks a interested Waseem Ahmad while looking at the bowls. His hands fiddle with the coins and he finally picks up one. “India ke hain, kaheen aur nahi milenge. Sirf hamare paas hain. (These are Indian and you wont find them anywhere other than me).” Ahmad, 31, a software designer buys one.

“We have never done so much business as we have in the last 20 days. I must have sold 10,000 coins till now and I am selling,” says an equally busy Aggarwal.

Aggarawal buys the coins from an agent for Rs 10.50 in bulk and sells it for 12 in retail. “The person who sells me the coins is an RBI employee and now everyone has his own agents and we are earning good money,” says Aggarwal.

----- ENDS-----

son kills father: father nails him after death.


When Satish Prakash, 30, bludgeoned his reclusive father Raghubir Singh, 65, to death three days ago in Alipur area believing that his father had an extra-marital affair; he didn’t know that his father’s diary would help police to nail him out soon. In his small room, alongside perfume bottles, fairness creams, pornographic magazine, Singh maintained a diary recording everything that happened to him but there was no mention of any women. Alipur Police have arrested the son charged him with murder.

On June 13, police received a call from the Singh home saying that their father had been murdered and was lying dead in his room. When police came, they found blood splattered on the walls and dried up on the sheet. Sigh was lying dead on his bed with several injuries on his head, neck and ears.

Singh, a retired clerk with Comptroller and Auditor General’s office, lived his own home as a recluse. “His room had a separate entrance, and he cooked for himself even though his wife and family lived in the same house,” a police official said. “We came to know that he hardly ever talked to anyone in his family.”

The Singh family had a dispute over property among themselves and there were regular fights and quarrels before the night when Singh was finally murdered. Police often received calls from the family and usually from Singh himself who felt that his family wanted to kill him. “He called some days ago pleading us to come to his home because there was a quarrel. We went and he said that his family and he are at odds and they would kill him. We said that this is a family mater and what else could we do,” says the police official.

Some days later, Singh was murdered. Police found his well maintained diary, in which he had written who in his family were trying to kill him. “He thought that his son Satish Prakash might kill him but in the last entry in his diary, he was afraid of his grandson LIkesh, who he felt would kill him,” says police. When the police questioned the sons and other relatives, they say, they were already sure that someone among them had killed him. “His youngest son, Prakash, broke down soon and accepted that he along with his friend, Salim, had killed his father because he never cared for his mother and had an extramarital affair,” says Atul Katiyar, DCP Outer. Prakash and Salim convinced two more of their friends who entered into Singh’s room that night and covered his face with a pillow and bludgeoned him with a musli. Singh stopped resisting and breathing but his son didn’t stop till he was sure that his father was dead.

Police have registered a case of murder against the son and his friend Salim and are hunting for the other two accused.

IN his home, there is mourning for the son but none for the murdered father and in diaries, there is no hint of an extramarital affair but police believe that he might have skipped the part out.


Finally, the long novel of daryaganj ends in a sad way...


This Sunday, Daryaganj just wasn’t its usual self. There were no yellowed texts stacked against the walls, no literature scattered and littered on the pavements, no hawkers shouting names of authors and no book lovers pushing their way through the bookish pavements. Daryaganj just wasn’t its usual self this Sunday and it might not be the same way ever again. As Daryaganj police decides to bring down the instances of pick pocketing and traffic congestion and MCD distances itself from the issue, the 45-year-old-book market for which people come even from other states faces the brunt.

“Police can close the market anytime if there is a law and order problem because of it. It is 45 years old but if state has the permission for the market once, it can as well take it back,” says DCP Central Jaspal Singh. Singh did not know that his subordinates had closed the market on Sunday though.

The around one-kilometer stretch of Delhi, which is the book lovers ‘Perian spring’, does not have any official permission but the book hawkers had been allowed to sit there every Sunday for the last four decades. But now, the Daryaganj police decided that it would not allow the market to be there in its present shape because of the traffic jams and crimes like pick pocketing and teasing of women.

The police say that it is hard to manage the market on Sundays because of so much rush. The SHO of Daryaganj police station is on a leave and the Additional SHO closed the market saying he was short of staff. “It is not only the book sellers but the cloth sellers and others have also come there. There are regular jams and eve teasing and they have started to use even the road for their goods,” says Adnl SHO, Daryaganj, Madan Lal.

The customers, many of who buy books only from here, some collect books, some art, and some even plan their visits to Delhi in a way that they could buy books here on Sunday left without a whimper this Sunday. Customers asked each other on the pavements as there was not even a single hawker to ask and when they heard that police had cleared the market, it is an immediate heartbreak. “This was one place where we could buy books really cheap and those books which we cant find anywhere. How can the police just come and close this market? We have come from 20 kilometers just to buy books,” says Pradeep Sharma, an MBA student.

Infact, the police hadn’t even told the hawkers that they would not be allowed to sell books on Sunday. “We came out in the morning with our sacks and an hour later, police came over and asked us to empty the pavement as it was because of us that the crime rate was increasing,” says Subhash Aggarwal, President of the Sunday Daryaganj Book Bazaar Association. The book bazaar employs around 250 people who sell books there.

There have been questions on this market even in the past and the issue is currently subjudice. The MCD says that it has nothing to do with this market and police can do what ever it wants to if it is a law and order problem. “We are not even in the picture. This market has no documents and is illegal and it has been allowed to be there only on humanitarian grounds. The police surely can close it,” says MCD spokesperson Deep Mathur.

For the ignorant customers who might be planning to come next Sunday, and the hawkers who have a stockpile of books in Godown, the future is uncertain.


Friday, June 12, 2009

It rained here last afternoon after a long time. It wasnt the first time though, but strangely it felt so. I walked out and sat on the little ashy verandah with my feet against the rusted railing, and smoked. The sky turned grey, and the white Delhi summer light changed to those old kashmiri kerosene lamp lights. The cigarette felt hotter nnear my fingertips. I lit another.

The rain fell on the railing and broken drops flew over to me, wetting the cigatte. I dint mind. The leaves rustled and the sky gargled and for a moment i believed i was in Kashmir. A few girls walked by, and the wind blew, revealing a few already revealed legs, rumaginga few already rummaged thoughts and dammpning a few few already damped souls. I was in delhi, i remebered. And i remember Sohail's dilemna who was now standing by my side and talking about Kashmir too. His girlfriend left him, he told me one ight. "because she wanted to have sex," he said with a surprised look on his face. "You should have done that before her even asking for it," i replied shrugging my shoulders and sypathising with the girl.
How can you say this, zahid?
Why? What wrong did i say?
If you kill one man, you kill the whole humanity... If you fuck one woman, you fuck the whole humanity...
I spurted out my smoke and he laughed. We both did, for a long time afterwards.
"Wasnt i right?"
Of course, i said.
Now sohail was standing, his arms pressed against the railing, as if about to to do pushups. O yea, he has recently joined and gym. He loves it. Its unisex, and hez even made a few friends.