Paraya Dilli

I've lived in Delhi for 18 years 5 months and 6 days now, which is to say all my life, and when the time to finally leave this place for college is due very soon, I feel I can view it with the eyes of an impersonal observer, detaching from the lens almost the kind of aching fondness a parent feels for a child. The tyke is spoilt and misbehaving, sure - but to not love him with all one's heart is unthinkable. On the other hand, an onlooker might think the child to be a lousy, indisciplined, tantrum-throwing faggot from all he's seen of him. And an onlooker's role is exactly what I'll don today.

The votes are in and the result is unanimous. Those whose who did not express any opinion were too darn busy with their lives to pay attention to any plebiscite. Delhi is a cold city.
The old saying 'Dilli Dilwaalon ki' seems to be a redundant expression now, employed rarely, if ever, that too only by radio jockeys who are payed to sound cheery and seem as if they're permanently boarded up on cloud #9.'Pathhar-dilwaale sounds more like it' exclaimed a friend of mine darkly when were talking about moving off to college. I was taken aback. I had never thought of it that way, but I realised I might have erred in my judgement of New Delhi as the best place to live. This realization proved to be an ominous warning in the next couple of days. The owner of a dhaba fiercely yelling at a boy who works him, an autowallah refusing a ride to an all too visibly limping old lady with an indifferent, almost lazy wave of the hand, grown men squabbling loudly, almost coming to blows in clinic queue (Relax morons, you're not gonna die of gingivitis or if you don't see the dentist within the next 5 minutes)- such is commonplace. And don't even get me started on road rage.

What comes to mind if you think of Delhi? The tasty street-food? Cute girls at North Campus? The Indian fashion capital? The capital of the Government of India? But what of Delhi's personality? Hmm. Cold. Selfish. Ruthless. What about the generosity and unity one associates with Mumbaikars, the amiability of the Kolkatans, the work-ethic of Chenaiites and the open-mindedness of Bangaloreans? Maybe it all seems that way because I've never lived in those places. But this city could still learn a lot from it's cousins. If there is a thing to be said about Delhi, it is that it teaches one how to survive. When to stand up and shout when you've been wronged. To get up from the ground, dust oneself and carry on. To deal with adversity head-on and to speak up for your rights. Because sometimes, if you don't take care of yourself, no one will. Everyone in this city is suspicious of everyone else and in all this suspicion, skepticism and self-centeredness compassion and bonhomie lose their way to the outward consciousness, words and actions. Come on Dilliwaalas, you can do better. Show your soft side. Be patient. Take time out from your self-bubble to help a stranger when such a situation presents itself, without hesitating. Smile. And watch New Delhi smile back.

College beckons, the bags are almost packed and my boat's about to set sail. i'll miss you Delhi, you beautiful twisted city.


Espèra said...

You blogged! :O
And :O!
Where are you going?

Anonymous said...

Lovely blog...all of it. It gives form to so many things that generally go unsaid.

Anonymous said...

Amazing post Menon. Even I have a similar situation. Dilli is Dilli dude.

Avneesh Gautam said...

Amazing post Menon. Even I have a similar situation. Dilli is Dilli dude.

Quicksilver said...

Thank you, everyone, for your comments. I know it doesn't mean much now considering it's almost 6 months since the first comment, but still. Thanks.