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February 2016

the old ‘kothis’ of New Delhi

  
Ever since I remember I’ve looked at the old ‘kothis’ of the old New Delhi and lament their passing. Places like Old Rajinder Nagar, Karol Bagh and Patel Nagar were filled with these big houses, mansions by today’s standards. I don’t think these were as old or as grand as the old ‘havelis’ of the old Old Delhi, but they were old enough for me, a kid growing up in the modern, architecturally monotonous government residences. There was something very homely in their wooden doors, shuttered windows and little deities guarding the main doors…as if they had a thousand stories to tell and promised that no kid would grow up alone under their roofs. Alas, the old must give way to the new…and when in the space of one such house, four floors of independent, modern flats (or ‘builder floors’ as we call them in Delhi) can be built, profits and practicalities take precedence over old world sentiments. Some innocence though is definitely lost in the bargain.

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