Safe and Sound in Safdarjung

It looks like a typical Delhi colony; narrow lanes and houses with the view of other houses. The mandatory shop below the buildings and the press wala and the vegetable vendor and then the market area where you can find everything. The charm of it can be realized further as you start living there. The flats are well designed and have great commutability and convenience. The hustle bustle is invariably more as the usual Delhi doesn’t die here. The beauty of this place is the co-habitation. The caretakers and the brokers are well versed with the potential tenants and their requirements. It is no news that North Easterners flock the capital in large numbers to study, work and then live on in many cases. Students, young professionals and settlers, a
majority of the people choose Safdarjung as their preferred place of settlement.

It was 2008 when I first moved into Safdarjung. Already two years in South Delhi, the ways and the days in the hip part of the capital was already experienced and it was time to move out of Satyaniketan’s paying guest houses and to become a nuclear family. The family in the city is only you and your bag. The real family takes time to arrive.

When one says Safdarjung, late night parties and convenient spots is what everyone expects. The
landmarks are either NCC gate or Deer Park and from here it is into the narrow lanes inside Humayunpur. Now, it is actually Humayunpur where all the North-Easterners dwell. The charisma is relished once you are on foot and are capable of taking in more than what your mind can capture whileyou zoom past in the auto. To first understand how Safdarjung is planned, it is imperative to know that the Deer Park is opposite to this residential area. This gives the area the whole effect of greenery and even mild breeze during the scorching summers. It also makes this area cooler than the rest of the city and if you are lucky enough and have a good broker who has given you a steal of a deal, your apartment might just feel like the mostcomfortable spot ever.

Urvashi, 25, is from Assam and has been living here for almost five years now. She has changed 10
houses till date and finally lives alone in a 2BHK in Humayunpur and she says, “It can’t get better than
this”. She further adds, “House hunting here could be an ordeal. Nightmarish even. But if your broker is as good as mine, the nightmare ends in a beautiful home.” It has never crossed her mind of her being unsafe in the building that is filled with tenants from various parts of the country and has no security as such. She says, “Living alone is living alone, the fear of being attacked or leched at diminishes completely once I reach Safdarjung. I have never interacted with my neighbors but it is an unsaid assurance of a girl’s safety here”

Jojo, 33, just got married with his girlfriend from the same town whom he met in Safdarjung. He has been living here with his cousins for almost seven years now. “This is home,” he says. “I have been accepted long time back and now I am even invited to their grandson’s roka” (Roka is a North Indian tradition before the actual wedding).

Bedanta, 29, works for a travel and hospitality company and also is a biker. He just moved into Safdarjung. “Most of my adult life, I have been in Delhi and Safdarjung has been a hot spot since the days of the yore. Everyone knows that the food and the ladies are both of supreme quality here. The warmth is seen every time you step out. Lots of restaurant with food from the far east and also shops selling fashionable items catering to the uber dress sense the North Easterners have, this place is a haven for anyone and the women are completely safe here. It usually turns out everyone knew everybody else by the end of it. Not to forget the super house parties people throw here”.

Shyamalee, 31 used to live here before she was married. “I remember running all errands when I moved in here and I can’t remember an inch of discomfort as I was unloading and dragging things into my apartment. People are helpful and quite respectful of women. With the major rise in “racism” towards North Easterners, the Delhi Police’s step towards appointing NE volunteers in many locations for quicker action and protection makes it furthermore safe. I wish I could go back to stay there”. Now living in
Dwarka, she often goes back to the delicious food the regional restaurants serve.

I have been victimized and touched abnormally many a times in Delhi. While taking the bus, while crossing the road, while awaiting an auto or while buying vegetables, Delhi is crawling with perverts. I have lived in Delhi for six years and living in various parts of South Delhi, I have been subjugated to various kinds of discomfort. Being ogled and stared at lecherously makes you immune to stares but makes you alert in all other ways. Safdarjung brings in the comfort in this fiasco. Because of the amicable relation between north Indian and Northeasterners, the atmosphere here is very courteous. While some may say because north easterners take advantage of being discriminated, I would like to believe it is people finally accepting our presence and treating us like citizens of this country. My Punjabi landlord
insisted on renting out only to North Easterners and said,“Fewer hassles and better deals”. All of it comes
full circle because we treat them right. Rent goes on time. Houses stay in the same condition and sometimes in a better state than at the time of renting and we take responsibility. The last house I lived in with my friends was just above the DGP of South Delhi’s residence. I was not aware of it until the longest time and I vividly remember the loud music we would play at most times during the day and the never-ending flow of people and the non-stop chill sessions every evening. We had all the freedom to do whatever without being judged or ridiculed. Wearing shorts in Delhi has become an ordeal now. It is only in Safdarjung during the summers that one can non chalantly walk around in shorts and tank tops and be assured they won’t end up in a hospital bed or in the cemetery.

Safdarjung not only is an affordable neighbourhood but also safe. I would like to go ahead and call it safest.During the time that I lived there, I was never bothered by my broker or caretaker. The one who is known for his notoriety always looked into my safety and protected me from unnecessary trouble.
Safdarjung made me realize that good things happen to good people and that more often than not, the
people who refer themselves as friends are usually there because they have nowhere else to go. I did make my family in Delhi. I did have an abusive encounter. I had family who took care of me when insanity led to mayhem. I found love. I found food. I found life. Oh, Delhi!

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