Some people we meet know exactly what they want and where to find it. Like my roommate Umadri, who’s lucky enough to know she loves good music and yummy Afghani chicken. Her only roommate on the other hand hops from place to place, tasting samosas deep fried in God-knows-how-many-weeks-old oil at the first joint and quickly conjured chowmein at the next, consequently contracting infections one after the other.
While I am thoroughly exhausted of this exercise, in my two months in this city I have found that while writing is liberating, blogging (which is essentially publishing within constraints) brings me happiness.
I remember the day Miriam asked me to start blogging, and I did.
I remember the day Miriam suggested I come to Delhi. Two weeks later, I’d landed in this place.
While that woman (so to speak) is to blame for all that I’m suffering today, it also suggests she’s responsible for my ongoing slow process of correcting the 22 years of wrong info my system has unapologetically gathered, including my coming to terms with the realization that after all, Veerappan wasn’t the LTTE leader I’d mistakenly believed to be from the days of my childhood until umm two weeks ago.
She’s also responsible for the little dance I do and my shrieks of delight when I find that the entire back page of The Hindu has been administered to accommodate Modi ji’s thala and Modi ji’s full figure. (Chalo ek page kum padhni hai 😜)
So venturing out in the morning these days involves thanking the Gods for the (relatively) clean air in the early hours and taking a deep breath, only to chokingly realize the unwelcome stench from the dry latrine on the other side of the road just made its way in too. And I’ve almost christened a blessing on that Good Samaritan feeding the famished stray, not before he rakes up his entire energy to passionately discharge spittle onto the pavement sending half of it on a trajectory to land on my shoe.
If you can watch Delhi’s starless skies on brilliant nights that tell a story of steady cacophony below and nonchalant splendor above, and somewhere far away that speaks of corporate neon lights from a concert hidden from your view, that you don’t have tickets to and that you aren’t sure you want to. If you can look past the cramped dirty streets and the dirtier profanity that IPhone wielders to your surprise indulge in, if you can catch hold of the multitude of roofs around occupied by bhayyas and didis lost in thought and fathom it’s all in good faith in the future and never desperation. If you can look past the pasted and painted faces on the Metro standing on their five-inch heels and insecure glances of self-reassurance, past the daily number of little kids buying icecream/golgappe from other kids who’d have been called classmates had the RTE really trickled down, maybe you could love Delhi.
Because surely this city is, like many others claim to be, an emotion. Whether the emotion of flying kites on rooftops/eating dahi chaat on a rainy day, or of an entire city that let a man bleed to his death on its roads in its wake, I know not.
Sadly though, I love my iddali (with an ‘a’ in between, yes), I instinctly look for thenga (coconut) before remembering it isn’t thoran but sabzi. I am baffled by the sweet sambar before I’m reminded it isn’t our sambar. And I miss listening to Velikku Veluppan Kaalam and Aareyum Bhava Gayakanakkum on Akashavani. Jk, that was around 18 years ago. But I do.
And if streets with all sorts of rubbish and a dust-spangled surrounding don’t repulse you, if the daily menu of paratha and thin long grained basmati rice doesn’t exasperate you, if being charged 30 rupees for a plate of measly vada doesn’t leave you feeling violated. If hearing a “Thankyeww soo muchhh” delivered in authentic Kerala English doesn’t evoke your grinning response of “Malayali ayrnnalle :D”(So you were a Malayali). And mostly, if a couple of weeks’ residence in (most) other parts of the country doesn’t elicit a special sense of pride about your own (and of course a rant like this one here), you probably weren’t fortunate enough to be born in my favourite part of the world.
PS: Do not ask me why this feature pic. Between banana leaf sadyas and coconut tree silhouettes, coastlines and backwaters, cities and towns and villages and sunsets and greenery and the arts, finally I settled on this I guess.