Peer Review by Shanti (New Zealand)

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Delhi- Old with the New

By: Aaliyah

    Growing up in a capital with a rich cultural and intriguing history, it has been like living in a time-machine, from decades ago to the present.
    Delhi is the capital of the Indian subcontinent, the country that houses one of the seven wonders of the world- the renowned Taj Mahal. Originally the site of Indraprastha, the royal capital mentioned in the Indian epic- the Mahabharata, the city has seen the rise and fall of numerous dynasties, as well as destruction and progress, even before it was named the national capital in early 1931, during India’s independence movement.
The Red Fort in Delhi is perhaps the reason why Delhi’s monuments are famous- being the primary residence of the Mughal Dynasty for nearly two centuries, it still houses certain belongings of the royal family, and is crowded by tourists, to get a taste of the royal life centuries ago.
Tombs such as the Safdarjung tomb, and minarets such as the Qutub Minar, the tallest minaret in the world built of bricks, constitute some other aspects of architectural splendor, showcasing the skill of ancient craftsmen and royal architects.
    Yet, it is not only the city’s historical aspect that point towards the United Nations’ prediction of Delhi being on its way to becoming the world’s most populous city in ten years’ time.
I have had a lot of interest in the cultural side of the city. Learning Kathak dance- an Indian classical dance form- since I was eight, I have discovered that Delhi houses some of the most famous auditoriums and the best institutions in the country for classical performing arts. Examples include the NDMC and Kamani auditorium, as well as the Kathak Kendra, the national institute of Kathak dance, also a constituent of the Sangeet Natak Academy, translating to “The Academy of Music and Theatre.” Several dancers and musicians born in Delhi have gone on to gain fame and popularity throughout the world.
    India being one of the world’s most artistic countries, the artistic side of Delhi is not to be ignored. Led by the diversity of the nation, the capital houses art attractions such as the National Museum of Modern Art, and the Delhi Gallery, among other exhibits of stunning artwork. And Delhi’s street art is something special- whether it is graffiti done on walls, or expensive paintings hanging in a gallery, they all show a city that has evolved through its people.
    But every child has his or her favorite, and mine is undoubtedly the open market- Chandni Chowk. Known for its world famous parathas- a fried Indian bread stuffed with potatoes or other vegetables- in the ‘Paranthe Wali Gali’, and its silver and gold jewelry, I love the constant hustle and noise that permeates the streets throughout the day. Hawkers shout out their wares, while the delicious aromas of raita and biryani waft into my nostrils, making my mouth water. Aside from the fact that I had a terrible stomach upset after eating the parathas, a stomach upset is well worth the taste. The vivid color that can be seen everywhere, gives the narrow, twisting streets a feel that you can’t get in any other corner of the world.
    I say, try as you might, you can’t live in Delhi without growing to love the crowd, the taste of spices, and the smell of diversity. Such is the magic of street food.
    I admire how every person can find something or the other to interest him or her in Chandni Chowk. Whether it is the local sikh Gurudwara music, or shops selling silver jewelry, or even the spicy and hot food at Moti Mahal, Chandni Chowk definitely represents India’s unlimited diversity in a place.
    I have memorable memories of Delhi. The roadside dhabas, contrasting starkly with the expensive shops in the wealthy South Extension neighborhood, serve to make the memories even more ‘memorable’. I remember driving with my family at night through the smooth roads, under the stars, the roadside lights reflecting in my eyes, giving me what I’m sure was a contented look. I mean, I’ve always been happy after a day out in Delhi.
    In the late nineteenth-century, there were so many monuments and markets popping up. But, transportation caused a problem. And thus, the Delhi Metro was introduced in 1995. Two years before I was born, in 2002, the metro launched its first line- the Red Line. While I was born and growing up, I love thinking that the metro grew with me.
    Today, the Delhi Metro, apart from being the 12th longest metro system in the world, also claims to be the only metro system in the world to go completely green. Normally, pollution levels in Delhi run high, and it is encouraging to see that the people are making an effort to achieve a healthier environment.
    Last year, I moved from Delhi to Texas. I saw a lot of change and difference, between how the two states survive. This year, when I came back, I had expected to be overwhelmed with pollution, dirt, and noise, thinking that I would not be able to cope after living in peace and breathing in clean air for a year. But despite my apprehension, I found Delhi waiting for me, as unpredictable and colorful as ever, giving me something to look forward to. Only after I had been away from the place, did I realise, how much I loved the din created by Bollywood music, and how much I had seen and learnt from growing up in a place that gave all people a taste of real life.
    Delhi is a place, where I have seen tradition and development come together. There are malls, and all the international brand outlets, as well as good colleges and schools. But there are also historical landmarks, cultural music, and mouth-burning spicy food. This city has succeeded in weaving together the old and the new, the imagination and the reality. I can say, I’m proud to be a Desi Delhiite.

Peer Review

I love that you open with the basic history of Delhi, then talk about the city as a whole, then two of your favourite aspects. This lets the piece be quite deep and have an excellent rhythm.

I love when you talk about Chandni Chowk! Honestly, if you wanted to go more in depth and use ~sensory details~ more, then jsut focus your piece on Chandni chowk. What do you feel as you sidle down it's choked alleys, glitter from the shops reaching out and entrancing you, people asking you to buy their products, the scent of paratha drifting around a corner, Lal Qila crouched in the distance? Why does Chandni Chowk feel like home? What have you learnt there?

I have a strong sense of what's in Delhi, but I think you could work on making it more cohesive? Don't just rattle off the names of landmarks and monuments: how do these places, together, give you a sense of Delhi's peculiar geography? How are the dance academies connected to the seething population, the exquisite art galleries, the remenants of Mughals, the Delhi Sultanate, the British, etc.

You know Delhi really well, and moving away has given you a perspective on it, which is important.

Reviewer Comments

A few notes since the software wasn't letting me add comments
-no need to italicize--roman type and capitals work fine and don't otherise the language you write in. Also, the Qutab Minar isn't a minaret--minarets are attached to mosques.
-what do you mean by 'india being one of the world's most artistic countries?
-'memorable memories' is redundant--of course memories are memorable, because you have remembered them.
-'12th longest metro system in the world' isn't really something to remark upon imo
-n general, be careful with your commas! you tend to overuse them
-I really like that you mention pollution and what it was like to come back to Delhi after moving. That felt really relevant to me, as I've recently moved from India, and gives a deeper sense of the city.
-be careful with the word 'development'--it's a very loaded term. Do you mean 'more like Western countries" 'more commercial options?' 'less poor' 'urban'?