As my train touched Nizamuddin Railway Station, New Delhi. I knew my trip into nostalgia was beginning. It is always a plethora of emotions that engulfs me when I enter Delhi. I recall me staring at the train station in Bangalore, when Ma came visiting me. The tears used to stream down my face till I could see the train till the last turn, chugging into a distance and I held on to my longing for home with a tearing cry.
Yes, I am melancholic about the passing of the past and also relieved it probably didn’t continue. I grew up learning that relationships change, evolve. Delhi evokes the painful and poignant memories. Lost relationships, broken promises and the inevitable growth with it. School friendships that have ended and some renewed with a more mature understanding of each other’s limitations and evolution.
In my circle of trust, I found Shimonti, the articulate, music loving, self proclaimed Bengali snob. I find my unspoken special Bengali connect with her. We are both Delhi Bengalis and extremely cynical of ostentatious sequin clad aunties with large crude brand totting bags and jewellery that has no history. We often roll our eyes in unison when we meet those types. We are both ardent fans of Indian Classical music and most things that have art as its main story. The others call us pretentious and prude. We are not exactly offended with that.
As always, she is game to walk into the by lanes of Chandni Chowk, stop to eat at the roadside eateries selling kebabs and my jewellery hunting in the small lanes and stores, where window merchandising is an unknown realm. Dariba Kalan has her favourite store – Dev Jewelleries. The father and two sons charm every customer, mostly women who try every jewellery on. They flirt and compliment you and also choose some designs for you. It’s like taking a trip into the nostalgia of small stores where the space between the counter and your tummy is divided by few inches. The old rickety fan buzzes over your head and what Dev Brothers do is make you believe you are the Queen of that hour. The shop has a narrow mirror and you can see your reflection in that distressed glass. They take out one box after another to show you their collection and you are transported into the world of art and craft of India.
As we rummaged through the boxes, I had mentioned to Shimo that I wanted a peacock earring with rubies set in zircon and silver. She never shows her amusement at my imagination. She always joins me in this mad trip of my blah and blue of memory and reality. She just takes over as we enter the tiny store. She summons the brothers to show their best. One Dev Brother says to the other, “Show them the Jaipur collection”. We saw earrings after earrings and finally found the peacock that had opened its plume. All around the finely crafted earring was the eye of the peacock with love and divinity.
My fascination with the peacock as a motif dates back to my trip to the summer evening in Rajasthan, when I heard the shrill cry of the flying peacock over my head and finally, it came down on the soft grass, looking up at the sky, as it threatened to rain. The fresh summer rain, that the peacock opened its feathers to and started the slow dance. As it opened every feather, I could see its hundred eyes stare at me. It shook and moved with the grace of a celestial dancer. I stood fixed soaking in the peacock’s narcissism. It slowly moved its head from side to side and stared intently towards oblivion.
In Greek Roman mythology, the peacock is identified with Hera (Juno) who created this magnificent bird from Argus whose hundred eyes symbolizes the vault of heaven and the eyes of the stars. In Hinduism, the peacock is associated with Lakshmi, the Goddess of prosperity, benevolence and patience. The virtues associated with women and her divinity. In Asian spirituality the peacock is the nurturer and stays immortal to guide humanity into its spiritual evolution.
The peacock motif is symbolic to the arts and crafts world over. Each representing the vast structure of religion and mythology. I wear the peacock earring on days when I feel the need to dive into my diva mode. It always gets the attention it deserves and I feel elated to share Dev Jewellery store details with other women.
Chandi Chowk, Dariba Kalan lane is the treasure trove of jewellery stores. It has small almost unnoticeable little windows and as you peep closer you find the arrangement like a trip into nostalgia. There are turquoise, rubies, pearls and silver all ensconced into the little space. Delve deeper and you find the piece you are searching for.
I wear my peacock earrings and rummage to search for the lusty rabbit handcuff bracelet. Dev brother says he has it and I believe him. His collection is unparalleled among the other stores of that place. I didn’t realise my tea had gotten cold while I was busy pampering my vanity. He claims he supplies to the larger air-conditioned stores in the posh parts the city. I am glad Shimonti made me find this store in the historic lanes of Chandni Chowk, Delhi where the pricing is not too tight on my purse strings.