Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New Delhi - The way I see it

Disclaimer: - This article is a representation of my thoughts and the way I see things. I have used names of certain communities, surnames and places so that reader can bond with the article. This is not meant to offend any person, community or place.

King Dhritarashtra
Dhritarashtra was helpless, he was the king and the representative of the glorious Bharat clan, but he was a father. A helpless father. His son, the obstinate Duryodhana was not ready to give Hastinapur to the eldest Pandava Yudhisthira and hence Dhritarashtra had to make a tough decision – the division of the kingdom. The fertile, prosperous Hastinapur went to Duryodhana and the Khandavaprastha an infertile, uninhabited place went to the poor Pandavas. Krishna with his directions and Arjuna with his arrows cleared the forest and presented to the world one of the finest cities of all times which has constantly changed names but the very essence of it has remained constant, always. From Indraprastha to Lal Kot to Tughlaqabad to the modern New Delhi, the very essence of Delhi has always been there.

Delhi Taxi
Step out of the Indira Gandhi International Airport and you are welcomed by the extremes. Depending upon your time of arrival you will be welcomed by scorching heat, bone chilling cold or worse heavy downpour. The downpour however is almost always there - the downpour of attention. The name placards with all possible Punjabi surnames on them and their owners bellowing at their top. If you have a confused face, the downpour will only keep on intensifying, from slight nudge on the shoulders to a full body hug. The Dilliwaalahs are (in) famous for bestowing any token of love and warmth which can convert into some currency. If you have a haversack on your back, you will see tourist guides in large numbers; if you have a business attache in your hands, the suited hotel agent swarms will hug and caress you and if you have a traveling bag, the local hotel guys will smile seductively and regardless of your travel gears, the taxi drivers will do anything to snatch your stuff in the name of help and place them in their taxi boots. You will obviously be presented with mind boggling tariffs. If you are an obstinate negotiator, you will have something left in your wallet at the end of the trip. Negotiate is the moral of the story.

The Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway
And when you are in traffic, the whole jaw dropping phenomenon will find an entirely new dimension. India is a blessed country home to 84 crore gods and demigods. With the power of octane rich petrol and of course the benevolence of all 84 crore divine deities your vehicle glides, cruises, speeds and wriggles in the traffic behemoth. On a six lane expressway where all vehicles have been designated their respective lanes, a speeding SUV meandering on all six of them in an attempt to get ahead of all is the commonest of all sites. Scary for first timers but a routine sight for the regulars. And Delhi has more vehicles on its roads than rest three metros combined and Delhi is a network of fast track expressways, so the SUVs and their meanderings are infinite. Wear your seat belts is the moral of the story.

Celebrations in the street
And if you happen to be in the great western part of the city which is like a parallel system inside the otherwise posh and suave metropolis, your jaws will be under Newton’s spell, all the time. Wee hours of the night, boot of a car opened and converted into a makeshift bar and high bass Punjabi music engulfing the airs and a group of charged youth – spiked, turbaned, goateed, pierced and beefed up grooving their hips into a discordant blend of Bhangra, salsa, hip-hop and all possible forms of dance moves is not a very atypical sight. The high pitches of the songs welcomed by loud roars of enthusiasm and the delay between adjacent tracks unwelcomed by shrill hoots. Legends of Nizamuddin Auliya and Amir Khusro and Mirza Ghalib still live here and Dilliwaalahs love their music. And when you happen to cross such a scene, enjoy the music, silently praise the dance and get going. Don’t mess the combination of Alcohol and music is the moral of the story.

The Shiny new Possession
Dilliwaalahs are known for their fine lifestyle. Just one car in the garage is totally middle-class. People here live for luxury and not for bare needs. Survival is for lesser mortals, prosper is the Delhi way. And yes spaces are limited so the same neighbor who comes to your house every Diwali with a gift glittery and shining on the outside and having expensive nuts and chocolates and sweets in the inside wouldn’t hesitate in calling you names if you mess up with his parking space. Fair and Just. Hugs and smiles make everything all right, everyday. And if you purchase something you have all rights to show it off but being blatant and on the face spoils the party, Dilliwaalahs are sophisticated people so they utilize the power of random discussions. So you can blame the government for the bad roads and the pains you take while driving you new Honda city will be perfectly alright. You will invite appreciative glances as well. Or blame the RBI for revising their Repo rates all the times and the way your floating EMI interest for that 3 BHK you purchased in greater Noida for 85 Lacs keeps going up. Leave Buildings and cars, you can even moan about water scarcity and complaint how your expensive imported sanitary fittings have become useless. Likewise flaunt phones, scotches in your bar, salary appraisals, wedding saris and sherwanis. If you can present it in the right way no one minds. So in Delhi, Flaunt is the moral of the story.

Always wise to run away from such scenes
Delhi has always been praised for its Dil – the heart. But there is more to Delhi than just Dil. There are arms, there are legs and of course there is a mouth. In fact on a typical day you get to exercise the last three organs more than the heart. The catch is that you should know when and where to exercise these. Most of the times you need to keep the mouth shut because one slip of the slimy muscle inside it can lead you to all sorts of trouble. Of course you can use your legs to run away or hands to fold and ask for mercy. But if you have other homo sapiens with you who you can trust, you can use your mouth to hurl abuses and hands to punch and legs to stay firm on the ground. In a busy traffic you can again use your mouth to throw abusive words on the pedestrians and motorists to scatter the traffic. If the traffic is not muddled but that idiot is not allowing to you to overtake, you can use your hands to show him the middle finger once you get past him. As you learn the life here you will also become an expert in the skilled use of these awesome organs. So make professional use of your hand, legs and mouth is the moral of the story.

Zero Ambiance,100% taste
Dilliwaalahs love their food too and in Delhi messier the lanes, tastier the food. The Kohli’s, Kakkas, Chawalas and Pammis are everywhere each claiming to be that one famous restaurateur from Old Delhi. One generous meal and you overshoot your calorie limit for the whole week. Paranthas in the Paranthe waali Gali, Street food in Bengali Market, Seekh Kebab and Tandoori Chicken in Chandni Chowk. Forget the butter dripping from the Rotis just indulge into the gastronomic delights of this ancient city. Delhi is more about taste than ambiance and if you are a sucker for ambiance, this place offers you hotels and restaurants that can supply mouth melting delights provided you have enough cement to cover the holes these places would drill into your pockets. Nevertheless, when in Delhi indulge in food without caring for the ambiance is the keyword.

Delhi - you just can't ignore it
Delhi is a confusing place but in that case India is a confusing country. We love to break rules, we love drawing urine maps on the desolate walls and we love staining the public wash basin with Paan and Betel nut jets. Staying in Delhi is like staying in all cities of India together. You have the rawness of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar here, the royalty of Rajasthan here, the eerie silence of Madhya Pradesh and the wildness of Punjab here; you will even find Tamil Nadu in the common law abiding man here and the coolness of Goa in the stylish females here. From English speaking suave youth from south Delhi to the Chaste Punjabi speaking west Delhi guy, from that well dressed guy in Vasant Kunj to that fashion disaster from Trans Yamuna, you have them all here. Delhi for me is the epicenter of all diversities in the world. Women here will pester the street vendor for 10 Rs but will never step into an eating joint which is cheap or is at least close to being cheap. Girls here will mesmerize you with their looks but can deafen you with their decibel rich voice.  People here contradict themselves sometimes for good and sometimes for the evil and this makes Delhi a rough but an interesting place to live in. It’s not easy to hate something or fall in love with something but Delhi will make you love it and hate it every day. From just another city to the place where you live, finally Delhi becomes a state of your mind.