"For all its faults we love this city." - The city of Djinns
The thought of spending a couple weeks in Delhi in mid-April is something most people would dread and yet, I was brimming with excitement and anticipation. To me, it presented an opportunity to break away from the monotonic work culture of Bangalore and to reminisce about the old days with my college wing-mate in the city I once used to call my second home. Now, while sitting in my return flight to Bangalore, I am penning down my memoir of this trip to Delhi.
Heat, Warmth and Hotheads
Summer heat was the first thing I sensed after stepping out of my flight in Delhi. This experience completely wiped out whatever tranquil effect was lingering on from the mesmerising aerial view of the city from my flight- ’ The floating island of lights in the sea of darkness' . I estimated the temperature in Delhi at the moment - validated it using the Accuweather app and registered the fact that Delhi nights were hotter than Bangalore days. I envisaged how hot days would be and how pathetic my life could be in the upcoming weeks given the amount of fieldwork that was required of me.
If you are in a city to meet people and you are little judgemental/observant like me (still not sure where do I lie),you start comparing the people here to the crowd in your city. And to me, it felt like people in Delhi exhibited greater emotional warmth. Most stores I visited, staff welcomed us jovially and went out of their way to assist us. However, one of my friends had offered me an alternate explanation. She attributed the treatment that I had received to the prevalent sycophantic attitude in North India. Given her understanding of people, I cannot simply deny this possibility, however I will, for the lack of evidence, chose to believe in the good of people.
Whatever goodwill the people of Delhi gained by manifesting emotional warmth, went downhill just after a few traffic brawl experiences involving hotheads. It is not that traffic brawls are unheard of in Bangalore, but it was way more prevalent in Delhi and would escalate really fast. With ‘O BC’ being the pet slogan for most of the population, the use of demeaning slangs in the vernacular of the city was profuse.
The Drunken Capital
Drinking and drunks in Delhi and Bangalore are not the same. The elegance that I had discovered in consuming alcohol in classy pubs and breweries of Bangalore got attenuated in Delhi. Though it is limited by a small sample space, I felt that there was more alacrity for consumption and vulgarity in inebriation. ‘We can’t go to a lounge that plays hindi songs. The crowd there won’t be good ’, one of my female friends once explained. This is sad because I do like hindi songs.Somehow, I think the city imbued with culture has forsaken some etiquettes.
Diverse and Disturbing
Life in Bangalore is dictated by a few prominent lifestyles - and there is a little deviation. It is easy to classify people into groups here. And this limitation in living patterns imposes a monotonic daily routine on the city itself. Delhi is vivid and there will alway be misfits in each crowd. Classification is not that easy. You could meet a sign-language interpreter in the Uber ride who was also a club owner.
This vividness was refreshing but also stark and daunting. For example, a walk in Hauz Khas as artless as a walk through Indiranagar. It feels as if layer of extravagance is patched onto a location otherwise lacking bare necessities. Delhi is culturally, economically and educationally cosmopolitan in an unsettling manner.
For somethings Never Change
Staying at Tanuj’s was one of the few thing that had me excited about the trip. Reuniting with your college buddy is always refreshing. The thing about great friendship is that it never gets stale. It is not contextual. It transcends local discomfort and temporal alterations. Even when you have grown up into a different person, the other person has also seasoned in a way to acknowledge those differences. The link that connects you together keeping getting seated firmly deep with-in yourselves with the passage of time. At least, this is what I hope for.
And the New Depths
Conversations ..actually good conversations matter to me. They keep me going. Sometimes, amid these conversations you explore new depths of a relationship. You unravel things hitherto unknown and realise what is apparent in a person is just a tip of an iceberg. Life can be extremely circumstantial. And it may not never favour certain results. But in all these years of life, all I have learnt is that if you could navigate through ambiguity, there is a unique pleasure that lies in exploration. Being at stage where I can still afford to be stupid, it is good that I have some people for whom I can try to be stupid.
You accept that you have grown up once you can glance at place and recollect a memory from your past where you are so different from your present that you hear yourself muttering- 'How Naive!'. Delhi is plagued with places like that. It is place that could make me feel old - a lost home of some distant past.