Bada kaske gale lagata hai,
Dhadkan ki dhun sunata hai,
Iske baaye taraf bhi dil hai,
Iske daaye taraf bhi dil dil hai,
Yeh shehar nahi mehfil hai
Yeh delhi hai mere yaar,
Bass ishq mohabbat pyaar,
Delhi 6 delhi delhi 6 delhi,
Kabhi pyaar mein gaali dekha hai
Kabhi gaali mein pyaar bhi hota hai apni
Aankhon ka taara bhi yahan pyaar mein bilkul khota hai,
Bolo bolo milo se dilli dilli,
Bolo bolo milo se dilli 6,
Basti hai mastaano ki dilli dilli,
Gali hai deewano ki dilli 6…
I cannot think straight about Delhi. I cannot love it like Mumbai, I cannot “un-love” it like Bangalore and I cannot be okay with it like the other cities I have lived in.
I have realized that I end up loving some part of everywhere I stay, because of the memories and the part of life I have spent there. But if you ask me my hometown the narrow congested lanes of Karol Bagh, the dingy house I grew up in, the red-bricked school building, the endless circles of Connaught Place flood the memory on cue.
Home means and will soon become meant Delhi.Delhi-5 to be precise for a long time.
(Yes I am a product of the oh-so-LS Karol Bagh!)
My biggest regret about Delhi is that once I left it 7 years ago I never returned to it as an adult and I couldn’t explore and know its heartbeat like the other cities. I never knew what it meant to live in Delhi. Yes I spent 18 years there. But they were a ritual of home to school and vice versa accompanied by once a blue moon outing in and around CP.
I never got on a bus with friends and said “chal yaar aaj uss side chalte hain”. I never hung out at Priya’s eating at Big Chill. I never braved rikshawalas at Chandni Chowk(the flavor of Bollywood this season) to go to paranthewali gali. Never went to India Gate at 1 am to have ice-cream. Never shopped my brains out at SN or Janpath. Never studied at DU despite a Stephens admit. Never went on the Delhi-Noida highway to one of the glitzy malls there.
By never I mean relatively of course. I have seen these places, but they never assumed the normality of a Marine Drive-Churchgate or Linking Road.
Yes a lot of it has to do with the fact that being a woman in Delhi is much different from being a woman in say Mumbai. Even your gait changes to a little defensive I think.
To be never molested or even commented upon in 3 years of Mumbai shocked my bought up in Delhi sensibilities. But men have entered my space in Cochin, in Bangalore and even in Goa, so I have accepted Delhi as a norm and Mumbai as an aberration to the psyche of Indian men.
And you can’t, simply cant trust anyone even for road directions because in Dilli everything is “seedhe jake baayen (straight and then lef)”. Everyone or almost everyone is more than willing to take you on a ride. Dilli main no dil I remember someone once saying.
Then what makes me look forward to the wide open roads and the old world charm of Luytens Delhi. The memories of mangoes squished and eaten while sitting bang in front of a cooler, the fan of which would sometimes sprinkle your face with water when the temperature outside touched 45. The “loo” and the dust storms followed by quick showers. The rainy season of lower classes when my mother would carry Relaxo slippers I can change into so as to prevent my white canvas or brown Mary Janes from getting spoilt. Sometimes trawling through knee high water in school compound and the distinct memory of the slipper once slipping out of my feet and floating ahead of me. Yet there was never a flood as the drainage kicked in sooner than later. Diwali-when the nip in the air becomes just that tad more biting. The ostentatious display of wealth during the time. Rooms stacked of dabbas of mithai. The diyas on every balcony. The firecrackers which can suffocate and kill the weak lunged. No other city even comes close to celebrating it like Diwali in Delhi. The winters where getting out of the rajai is an early morning challenge followed by 5 minute baths and then plonking firmly in the small areas of house where sunlight would stream in for a few hours listening to my mothers halting conversations in Hindi with neighbouring aunties. 26 january parades where as a family we would watch and comment on each and every tableu and running out to the balcony or roof when the Sukhois came into action. Kanjaks where one ran around the locality with a plate collecting poori, halwa and cholle but more importantly 10 rupee notes and competing for the number of red thread on left wrist with other girls.
The tendency to shorten every word. Mujhe to wahi karma hain to maine to wai karma hain. The Punjabi which has woven itself into everyday Hindi. The roads populated with cars-every city has a definite taste in cars. Delhi’s is Maruti Swift-the one with a behind like that of a Punju aunty as AB says. Everyone is a big shot or beta of a big shot in Delhi. The most stylish and good looking people by a fair margin. The number of good looking people you can find in a year elsewhere can be found in a day in Delhi. To the roadside chaats like none another to the seats of power at 10 Janpath and 7 Race Course, this is like none another.
And perhaps the most remarkable for me is there is no authentic Dilliwala. It’s a city of migrants-some 50 years ago from Peshawar, some 5 months ago from Chennai.
This is the city I thank everyday for giving me the ability to dream for the stars. Which filled me with a passive aggression. Which assured me there is a jugaad for each and every thing in life. Blessing me with a neutral name, a neutral face, a convent education this is the city that sent me out to explore the rest of India. Who said Dilli ke paas dil nai hain?
PS: I thought of this post when I listened to Dilli-6 title track for the first time. Love it must be the understatement of the year!