Delhiwale: This way to Gali Gudaryan


Some parts so silent and deserted, others full of bustle and sounds.

Most of Gali Gudaryan is like a baggy wide megapolis where people come from all corners of the world for a living. Take this cramped envelope-making workshop. Squatting on the floor, six Walled City men are on the job (see photo), and all are natives of other streets. Irshad and Naushad are from Gali Dakotan; Faizan is from Mohalla Qabristan; Danish is from Turkman Gate Bazar; Amir is from LNJP colony — technically it lies outside the Walled City’s vanished city walls, but for all practical purposes it is a part of the historic quarter; and Majid is from Phatak Teliyan.

Littered with paper sheets, hammers and bottles of glue — the tools needed to bulk-make envelopes, the workshop is among the several small businesses in the gali. Lined with residences, the street has more such envelope-making workshops, as well as various tailoring establishments, professional kitchens and recycling warehouses. It gets its name though from a profession that now barely operates out if it. Gudaryan, a dweller explains, deals with the stuffing of mattresses. This afternoon, no place can be spotted with this activity. However, an all-knowing Walled City person who lives in another street insists that Gali Gudaryan takes its name from a group of citizens who owned gadhe, or mules, that were used to carry construction material within Purani Dilli’s labyrinthine alleys. Well, no mules are to be sighted either.

Actually Gali Gudaryan was officially renamed to Mohammad Din Elaichi Marg some two decades ago in the memory of an illustrious citizen who was said to greet people with elaichi, cardamom. (The gali’s present name commands no influence with chai stall owner Ameeruddin whose tasty tea is not flavoured with elaichi.)

Whatever, the street has three mouths; one has a passage flanked by blue walls (very instagrammable!); another is so super-narrow that it stays dark even in sunny afternoons. In the evening, after shuttering the workshop, the aforementioned envelope-makers walk back home through whichever of the three exits is closest to their gali. This must also have been the daily routine of late Mohammad Din Elaichi. For while his manufacturing factory of electric meters was on this street, his home was some distance away in Phatak Teliyan. Indeed, today, the man’s legacy clearly distinguishes this street as a dynamic confident locality that generously accepted an outsider, eventually making the outsider’s identity its own.