I also come from Mayur Vihar 1 Extension or Mayur Kunj, depending on whom you listen to, since Phase 1 is East Delhi‘s equivalent of Manhattan, the aspirational part of Yamnapaar. This is where I learnt to measure life according to Mother Diary open-closed hours, and where ordering meals by a food delivery app more than once a month will make neighbours suspect that you are a pervert who watches old Imran Khan YouTube cricket videos behind closed doors.
I come from two Mayur Vihars. One where there are morning walks and laughing clubs in the parks, and every second person was either a bureaucrat or a journalist, or could have been one if he or she chose to. The other Mayur Vihar is proud of its Star City Mall, the equivalent of Gandhinagar’s GIFT (Gujarat International Finance Tec) City, except that instead of being an international financial services centre, this is India’s only mall that runs on liquor stores – some 20 of them under one roof, with three (functional) ATMs, a couple of eating places, a coffee outlet and a string of soda-namkeen-cigarettes kiranas that form an ancilliary industry to Star City’s key business.
I come from one Mayur Vihar where former R&AW agents have, on more than one occasion, discussed the validity or otherwise of anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss’ work, The Raw and the Cooked. There is the other Mayur Vihar where many of its residents wonder why there is no Collected Works of Kapil Sharma available, and where aunties sing chorals at jaagrans with MS Subbulakshmi gusto but with Paresh Rawal effect.
One of the Mayur Vihars I come from is concerned deeply about rising AQI and the lack of social distancing (pre- and post-Covid) shown by residents of all the other Mayur Vihars. Witnessing the ravages of air pollution in once bucolic East Delhi, Mayur Viharis Phase 1 can’t understand why, even after Race Course Road has promised that the farm laws will be repealed, farmers stubbornly burn stubble and don’t move wholesale to the service industry – especially since there is a Crowne Plaza and a Holiday Inn in the immediate vicinity.
The other Mayur Vihar(s) continue to worry about there being not enough open counters and Diwali discounts round-the-year in the local Big Bazaar. They also bemoan the paucity of restaurants in East Delhi where decent families can go out to have a pretend-clandestine evening of non-veg and daaru. The old Haowin Restaurant & Bar as a middle-class weekend getaway spot has long been replaced by the Akshardham Temple a Metro blue line ride or four away.
I come from a Mayur Vihar that is ten minutes’ away by car from India Gate. I come from another Mayur Vihar where near the Noida-Delhi border, Swiggy and Zomato delivery agents disappear in a desi Bermuda Triangle never to be found again.
I come from two Mayur Vihars, one which finds Vir Das’ recent, controversial stand-up (to reality) ‘I come from two Indias’ monologue at the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC too righteous, too cliched, too so-not-Trevor Noah. The other Mayur Vihar doesn’t care what that chap, who played Banteshwar Singh Bolaid in the controversial 2016 film (banned in Punjab) Santa Banta Pvt Ltd, said or did in front of an American audience who still thinks Bernie Sanders’ moment is yet to come.
But as I write this for you from a Japanese restaurant, I am reminded that I represent a great people, who built a great thing (never mind HKL Bhagat’s role as East Delhi MP) which is turning into a memory. And I know you believe in that Mayur Vihar like I believe in that Mayur Vihar because I see it in your sense of wit. So before I leave South Delhi, I will end this column, and you make some noise for the Mayur Vihar you want to live in. Because I promise you, this is Guppy at Lodhi Colony, but today, this is our fcuking – French Connection UKing – retail space! So make some noise for Mayur Vihar.
Views expressed are author’s own