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Gen Y regales with tales of Delhi

Isha Arora, September 3, 2013, DHNS: 21:37 IST
new trend: Following international trends, students in the City are showing their interest to work as a guide.
Leading a pack with an umbrella signalling the direction, they mark their presence, be it a busy bazaar, or a crumbling ruin in the Capital. Following international trends, where students work as guides, young Delhi live-wires too are taking up the profession with gusto. We follow their trail to pick up anecdotes related to the new ventures and their impact on the age-old guides dotting the monuments in the city.

“What do you want to do apart from these heritage walks? I am a storyteller; I want to narrate Delhi’s history. But that’s your passion, what do you plan to do for a living?”, Asif Khan Dehlvi, a 23 year-old pursuing Masters in History counters these baffling questions day in and day out until he co-founded Delhi by Foot. His walking-tours venture that has been flourishing in Delhi since 2011 earned him the title of ‘Delhi’s Djinn’, courtesy his ubiquitous presence around the city. With changing tides, the questions have flipped around, says Asif earnestly. Now, he is constantly asked about how to become a heritage walk leader.

A connoisseur of Sufi tradition, Asif quotes Mirza Ghalib and Mir Taqi Mir at the drop of a hat. Perhaps his USP lies in the fact that he narrates Delhi’s history in Urdu, a fact that played against him when he stepped into the world of guides. Wherever he went he was asked to learn a foreign language to woo a better clientele he was stuck by his love for Delhi’s history and Urdu language to connect Delhiites to their magnificent past.

For the 24-year-old Neharika Mahajan, it is the romance of literature, sociology and history concocted with the mystic charms of Delhi that tug at her heart. Taking over the reins of the New Jersy based Culture Curry’s Delhi chapter, she prefers calling her heritage walks a cultural experience. “While growing up in Delhi, one doesn’t understand the invaluable treasures that the city has. When I went for my graduation to TISS in Mumbai, that’s when I got the urge to fathom Delhi layer by layer,” says Neharika.

Banking upon her storytelling skills she wants to develop a special connection between the tourists and the people on the streets through an array of walks. Is safety an issue for this one-woman brigade, considering the unfortunate spate of events recently? If you are in a big group, the likelihood of such incidents goes down and of course, we would take all precautions possible, says Neharika, with an undeterred-
confidence in her voice.

If history and storytelling are Asif’s and Neharika’s forte, 28-year-old Lobsang Tenzin thrives upon his own culture. A student at Alliance Francaise, Tenzin takes French tourists around town, especially to Majnu ka Tilla, the Tibetan settlement he is based in. His face lights up when he talks about Tibet and its monasteries, as if nurturing
a dream to take people to Lhasa.

Pose these young guns a question about their competitive advantage over professional guides and they unequivocally say that they share an experience that goes beyond the chronological explanation of sites falling under Archaeological survey of India only. Besides, their fan following on internet groups sustains their popularity and client base.

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