Oh Jangpura!

kadami and suresh chatwale
Standing side by side, both eateries serve excellent street food in Bhogal-Jangpura.

I have been living here in Jangpura all these months (15 in total) making it my Base Camp to explore India, particularly Delhi. This expedition has been full of exciting experiences and successes so far. The neighborhood is near from the city center and also the famous landmark India Gate (5 km). The place is easily accessible (hope the propertywallahs won’t increase the rent price in the neighborhood after reading this), surrounded by two major roads (Mathura and Lala Lajpat Rai) that connect the place with rest of Delhi. The area is filled with parks and is green.

Developmental stuff is going on around the area. As much as I am looking forward to the opening of Eros cinema here, I am also eagerly waiting for the inauguration of Metro station in Jangpura so that I don’t have to go all the way to Pragati Maidan (5 km) to catch a Metro train. If that happens, I can go to Chandni Chowk daily to eat dahi valla and some other mithais.

Eros is a very famous landmark here. “Tell the auto wallah ‘Eros cinema ke paas’ [near]” is what I must tell to anyone who wants to come to my home from other parts of Delhi. What I have heard from my very informed landlord’s even more informed son is that the theater caught fire sometime ago and now they are rebuilding it as a modern multiplex with shopping mall and all. The fact that it is only about 9 minutes walk from my home makes it appealing. The nearest theater from my home is 3C’s in Lajpatnagar where I have watched three movies in the past year: Slumdog Millionaire, Rocket Singh: Sales Man of the Year, and Gazini but not in that order. The best thing about having broadband connection is that one can download movies from Web. Thanks to the creators of torrents.

Eros is located, by the way, just a stone’s throw from anther super famous landmark of Jangpura Extension. Sharabi ka dukaan. Okay, that should be sharab ka dukan but since the dukan is crowded with a lot of sharabis I think I can say that is also a sharabi ka dukaan. I wonder if the dukandaars are a also sharabis. I am not. But I have to pay a visit there every now and then because some of my friends who pay a visit to me happen to be sharabis. There’s another sharabi ka dukaan under the Jangpura side of Defense Colony flyover where I go only when I am out with Satish Bhaiya (who has already been referred to at least once in this post). My observation says Eros sharabi ka dukaan is far more crowded and popular than Flyover sharabi ka dukaan. May be the taste of the liquor is different? No idea. But I am sure nowhere else but in these two places can one find sharab in the whole of Jangpura.

Chaos rules in these two places on the day before the dry day (no alcohol day) in Delhi. Dry day is the day when one can’t sell alcohol but apparently consume as much as the soul desires.

Adjoined to the Eros sharabi ka dukaan is another super duper famous landmark of Jangpura (this is indeed a place of landmarks). This is called Om Hotel. This is not same as Oberoi Hotel that is merely a kilometer or two away from Eros on Zakir Hussein Road that ends at Indian Gate circle. Om Hotel is famous for food that is priced exorbitantly. Exorbitantly I say compared to the price of same Rumali Roti available in nearby (15 min walk) Nizamuddin Dargah eateries. Food is clean and packed well, another thing in which Om appears to be reputed for. But the price, I must say, is way too much.

One has to be very careful about the name Jangpura so as to avoid confusion that may lead to long and tiresome walk. Jangpura B meaning Bistar (a Sanskrit/Hindi/Nepali word that means Extension) is NOT same as Jangpura Extension. Coming from India Gate via Mathura Road, Jangpura Ext lies on your right while Jangpura B on left. In one of my initial days of coming to this town, I got off at Mathura road and walked towards Jangpura B. Something looked very different so I told a dukandar the place I wanted to go. He showed me the correct direction.

Here comes Bhogal. Sometimes it’s very confusing as to where Bhogal ends and Jangpura Extension begins but still I feel Bhogal could be one of the reasons for me to like Jangpura. Without Bhogal, I tell you, Jangpura would be lifeless. That’s why I have told someone here who lives with me NOT to underestimate Bhogal, never! Bhogal lai kam naaka (in Nepali), bhogal ko najarandaaj mat karna! (in Hindi). It offers everything that one can easily see in Lajpat Nagar Central market or any other consumer markets for that matter. The only thing is you have to walk by all the alleys of Bhogal and look at the shops carefully to find what you are looking for.

What one can easily see in the evenings is the momo stalls of Nepali boys. Some panipuri (golgappa) stalls are always crowded. But the toughest of the competitors in the whole of Bhogal must be those guys who run Suresh Chatwala and Kadimi Dukan. Encroaching the roads on two sides, they have set up their shops that sell samosas, jalebi, imarti, kulcha and much more. A small lane separates them. Standing on that very lane (and also the main Central Road), people eat foods they sell. I have tasted samosas from both of the shops and lately I have liked the ones offered by Suresh Chatwala. They provide pomegranate grains along with chatni.

But for imarti or any other sweets, I must turn towards Kadimi. There, I often eat chhole bhature. On each occasion, after eating, I promise not to eat again condemning them for putting so much oil in there. Last month, we we were coming to home after our Varanasi trip, we stepped in to Kadimi for chhole bhature and samosas. Again, it was too oily.

Three ATMs on this side of Bhogal- from State Bank of India, J&K Bank and Canara where I have an account with no or little money- are dysfunctional most of the times. I use my Nepal Investment Bank ATM to draw cash but there’s hardly any occasion when I don’t encounter problems in either of the ATMs. Fourth one, of HDFC where I have account with no or little money, claims to work 40 percent faster in flashy advertisements. But that is the biggest lie I have ever come across in Banking history. That is, by far, the MOST SLOWEST ATM in the whole of Delhi. HDFC, take note of this.

As one comes towards my home (in B block), you will automatically notice Modi Pastry on the left. My relationship with the shop is bitter-sweet. It’s more sweet actually. In the mornings, this old Sardrji who is a friend of my landlord Uncle Mehra sits at the counter. Whenever I go there, he offers me chai, pani. Each time I have to humbly refuse the offer. He also gives me discounts occasionally making me feel really good. Sometimes when he meets me on the street, he teases me: yar, saadi ke baad kaisa chal raha hey? [How are things after marriage?] If I remember it correctly once he winked as he asked making me blush. He is one of the oldies- including Uncle Mehra- who gather at Block B park in the afternoons and talk, crack jokes and make fun of other people for an hour or so. Regardless of the discounts (and another gloomy looking sardarji who always yells at workers there) I have been a regular at Modi for pastries, Maaza, puffs, cookies or pauroti (bread).

Talking about bread how can I forget to mention the Afghan bread that appears to have caught Jangpura/Bhogal by rage at least in the Afghan community recently. Two eateries have sprouted up in the past couple months or so (about 100 meters from my home) in Bhogal. Each of them have made it to the newspaper columns. Both of them are very near to each other and to Modi Pastry. One is without any signboard and I always see a big crowd in the mornings waiting for their piece of excellent Afghan bread. I tired it once. I liked it. Seems like I am not the only non-Afghan to like the bread. Chinki Sinha, a journalist with Indian Express who shifted to Jangpura Ext from Nizamuddin West a few months back, was offered those breads “at a friend’s place.” The friend “suggested” her to “visit the bakery, which [she] did.” When journalists visit a bakery, they just don’t eat. They write a story about that as Chinki did for the Express.

A few days before Chinki’s story appeared in the Express, I had been pleasantly surprised by a story in the Hindu by Rahul Verma about Kabul Restaurant, another eatery near the bakery. There was a south Indian restaurant at that place before Kabul Restaurant replaced that. Since I have turned a vegetarian these days I haven’t gone inside the restaurant that boasts of chicken tanduri etc on its menu board that stands at the gate. I always read the menu every time I pass by Modi Pastry. I think I have noticed names of some veg items too. I might go there someday.

So many words already spent on Jangpura-Bhogal. The point I wanted to make is simple, I am enjoying living here. Of course, there are other people too who love living in Jangpura.

Here’s a Jangpura-Bhogal Album. Almost all photos are taken by iPhone in the past year. Click on pics to enlarge.

15 thoughts on “Oh Jangpura!

  1. i had visited delhi 12 years ago to my relatives house in malviyanagar,when i was at std 3, but i do remember the places i visited there…like..appu ghar, chidiya ghar, india gate, purani delhi, lal killa, faridabad etc. i m planning to come there in dashin vacation.
    well i liked ur post but what is that ‘we’ stands for in ur writings. is our bhavi is with u?? then when will we be able to see our bhavi pic?

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  2. It’s been a long time. I have almost tried like two thousand fifty times to comment on your articles…but something always stops me from clicking on ‘submit’. And there are reasons for it, of course. You leave no space (at least for me) to comment. Now what can I possibly comment on this article? Everything’s so clear…I felt like I was in Delhi while I was reading ‘Oh Jangpura!’. I could almost smell. And what I smelt was this:

    One September morning…Delhi Bus Stop…chaos, confusion. And I was tired. It was a little more than five in the moring. As planned, I was waiting for one of my cousins to come and take me to his apartment. I went to this telephone booth and phoned him. He said it was too early for him to come to the bus stop! So I had to wait until seven. I had to pay twenty four rupees (in Indian Currency) for using the phone for not more than two minutes! Was I cheated? Yes, I was. Didn’t I say anything? Yes, I did. What happened? Nothing! Because ‘that’s a bus stop and the rates are fixed!’ Moreover, I was too tired to argue and I am not so good at arguing. And I needed to pee! “Bhaisaab, toilet kaha hai?” ” Udhar!”

    There’s nothing like peeing if you haven’t peed for a century!

    “Hello, paisa to deke ja mere dost!”
    “Jee, kitna huwa?”
    ” Pandra.”
    “Pandra?! Pisaab pherne ka pandra?”
    “Chal bis hi de de!”

    And then I bought a newspaper. Times of India.

    “Nepal ke ho bhai?”
    “Jee nahi, mai American hu. English mai baat karu?!Ek Times of India.”
    “Tumhare rajkumar ka news hai ishme…padlo.”
    “Rajkumar?”
    “Ha Ha wohi Parash…nakli note ko dhanda karta hai.”

    I turned the pages and there it was. Something like ‘Nepal’s ex-crown prince involved in fake currency scam.’

    “Kaisa laga?”
    “Kya?”
    “Gulam hoga Nepal to ab India ka.”
    “Really? Well, I don’t know that yet but what I know is India was ceartainly a gulam for many many years…British Rule? Remember?”

    That was in English.

    Laxminagar. Chanakya Puri, Chandani Chowk, Lal Killa, Daryagunj (because a friend had suggested me to go there to buy books…but unfortunately that wasn’t a Sunday when I was there).

    I was wearing a black mask. It was Swine Flu time in India then. And one evening, while I was walking around inside the Lal Killa premises, I noticed policemen staring at me. It didn’t take much time for me to guess the reason. I took off the mask off my face and smiled no-I-didn’t-do-it-in-November-in-Mumbai.

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    1. Gajjap ko details. Things like that happen a lot to many people, especially at bus stands, rail stations and some other touristy places. Many Indians, particularly those who are not well off, have some sort of negative attitude towards Nepalis, perhaps because, like Blacks in the US who think brown-looking folks, not Whites, have stolen their jobs, they feel that migrant Nepalis taken over the jobs that would have otherwise gone to them.

      The touts and bus-stand types always try to reap off ‘new’ looking people. They overcharge and they try to loot in many other ways. The problem is horrible at Indo-Nepal border crossing points where poor migrant Nepali workers returning home from India are looted by Indian security forces.

      When I got out of a loo in Saarnath last month, I was asked to pay Rs. 15. I was stunned. I had never been asked to pay that much of amount before. Not even for long toilet, let alone pisab.

      ‘Why?’ I asked in Hindi, trying to hide my accent to the extent I possibly could. I also tried to sound 100 percent confident and willing to start a heavy fight. ‘Do you charge Rs. 15 to everyone who comes to pee here?”

      ‘No’ he said. ‘You looked like a tourist.’

      ‘Toh kya tourist tumse jyada mutta hey? What’s the standard price?’

      Then he gave me Rs. 10 back! I knew Rs. 5 for a session of pisab was still higher but I felt I had fought enough.

      So my tactic has been something like this: take stock of the situation around you and behave accordingly. Hatne hoina, dati ladne Nepali ko bani huncha. Sometime you have to back off, given the unfavorable situation.

      India is a country of contradictions and paradoxes. There are many brilliant and helpful people. I must mention one incident here.

      I had gotten off a bus at Bangalore bus stand early in the morning a year ago. I was shivering as the A/C inside the sleeper bus had been blown up at freezing level, almost, whole night.

      All autuwallahs of the city had gathered around me to give me a ride, take me to hotels and make me feel comfortable. I hadn’t carried Lonely Planet so I didn’t know whom to trust, where to go. I just wanted to be alone and find a coffee shop nearby. That I did and this young university student (must be around 22) comes to me and starts talking. I could trust him, I felt. He offered me advises which I followed later. Suddenly, he pays for my coffee (two cups) saying he felt good meeting me. I was humbled. Somehow we started talking about Nepali currency and I used the opportunity to gift him with NRs 20 note. That was still less in value than what he had paid for my coffee: IRs 20. But he wasn’t expecting me to pay back. Neither I had intended to pay him back.

      Educated young Indians are so understanding and great people to be with.

      Most of the uneducated lot are same everywhere.

      A BIG thanks for hitting the ‘submit’ button finally!

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  3. Okay, I do hit submit button occasionally. Some new revelation to me that wagle is married. Not a big surprise or anything just a new news.

    Talking about Delhi, lovely place in short. Have visited may be 7-8 times but not in that Jangpura Extension but in Paharganj and Tibetan Market, Majnu ka tila as these areas offer cheap hotels.

    Argument with Indians many times in delhi, when i used to work in defence colony, near south x and had to travel by bus from Ganeshnagar/Mother’s dairy to Defence colony chaning bus in ITO. Be confident and speak hindi n try to gather support from young lots around, anyone will be in good feeling after that arguments be over.

    One thing interesting about HDFC Bank ATM, I think they are advertising that their new ATMs are 40% faster than other. So, there are some ATMs which are 40% faster and there are old stuffs which are still good enough to send money out and not to capture card inside🙂. If you are getting money, you should not complain, I guess.
    Chamatkaribaba

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    1. Defence Colony is very near to Jangpura Ext.

      As for the HDFC ATM, seems like the 40% faster is only when you use their ‘favorite withdrawal amount’ or something like that. But I still find their AMTs slow, particularly the one that is installed at the Jangpura branch.

      And yes, keep on hitting the submit button.

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  4. Hi neighbor! I just stumbled upon your blog and live in Jangpura Ext as well. Actually, in Chinki’s old flat. Bummer you can’t/haven’t eaten @Kabul Restaurant yet. Soo good! But I like the bread better at the Kabul-Delhi Restaurant in Lajpat. See you around the ‘hood!

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    1. Thanks for dropping by and welcome to the colony! I know I have to go to KR soon. See you! The parks on your side of Jangpura are better and bigger to jog in the mornings.

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