Speeding cars are making gentle breezy sounds. Somewhere a peacock is crying out. While the soft sun of the August evening is filling Aurangzeb Road with golden light. The Delhi Walla is walking on this tree-lined avenue with a gathering sense of loss. These are the last days of Aurangzeb Road.
The New Delhi Municipal Council has decided to change the name of this Central Delhi road in honor of APJ Kalam the former Indian president who died a few weeks ago. The demand to rename the road was made by a Delhi MP.
In the old days, Aurangzeb Road was the address of historically important figures such as Pakistan’s founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah and the ‘Iron Man’ Vallabhbhai Patel.
Today, it is peopled by industrialists and ambassadors. The 17th century monarch after whom the avenue was named was said to be brutal but we are perhaps missing the point. Aurangzeb Road is (was?) now no longer about Aurangzeb. In our present-day Delhi, it is a state of mind.
One of the most revealing descriptions of an insider’s life in Aurangzeb Road appears in the political memoirs of venerable journalist Tavleen Singh. A member of Delhi’s high society, she wrote in her book.
We do not necessarily need to be a highborn to savor the vine-covered gentility of Aurangzeb Road. Just a walk may give you a sense of its exclusivity.
The residence of the Canadian high commissioner faces the highly-secured Israeli embassy. The ambassador of Brazil lives close in a white bungalow; the garden is visited by peacocks.
Further down is house number 10. It is the home of the ambassador of the Netherlands. This was Jinnah’s house. It was here that he held his last press conference before leaving for Pakistan in 1947.
Jinnah sold this house to industrialist Ramkrishna Dalmia, who sold it to the dutch embassy..