Old Delhi, to the general mind, is a picture of chaos, rickshaws, pullers, pushers and a teeming crowd. But there is none of it in this part of the Walled City that I venture into — Pahari Imli beyond Bulbule Khana. Perched on a mound, its lanes are mostly steps and slopes, meant only for walkers, two at a time maybe. Somewhat reminding me of its similarities with old Muslim cities, say Damascus, Jerusalem, albeit they are far cleaner!
Walking through this maze of sharp kerbs and steep slants around precarious looking matchbox houses, meeting strangers’ gaze — many times from behind a curtain, a paan shop here, a tailor’s establishment there, I seek out Hazrat Shah Waliullah Public Library, a one-of-a-kind community altruistic effort in today’s individualistic man-eat-man times.