There is very little in common between Bangalore and Delhi. Delhi is on your face, the brat you don’t want to mess with while Bangalore is the refined, unassuming son of a neighbor you never noticed. If Delhi is ‘Chaar bottle vodka’ then Bangalore is Jonnie Walker on the rocks, just the way you like. If Delhi is Yo Yo Honey Singh, Bangalore is Anupam Roy singing his Bangalore Ballad before he became famous. The swag of Def Col was never for me while leafy Defence Colony is already home. Yet, sitting in my room on the roof, I long for the city I didn’t think twice before leaving so abruptly.
I was never an outsider in Delhi. Delhi was always mine. I found my Delhi in the cry of Choley Kulche waala at dusk, beating his ladle against the brass handi. I found Delhi in the roads that oozed power- Lodhi, Safdarjung and Aurangzeb, in funny sounding localities- Adchini and Ghitorni and in abbreviations- HKV, Def Col, GK2. I found my Delhi tucked away playing Vishnusahatranamam Strotram in R.K. Puram temple and in tranquility of Ram Krishna Mission on RK Ashram Marg.
Delhi is Shakarkand made just right in the back alleys of Bhogal in winter evenings. Delhi is Rewri , groundnut chikki and popcorn sold before Lohri. Delhi is divine Jalebis dripping in Ghee from that ancient shop in Chandni Chowk. Delhi is familiarity of litti chokha sellers of Baba Kharak Singh Marg. Delhi is the frenzy to buy big boxes of dry fruits in red and silver during Diwali.
Delhi is loud Punjabi music emanating from cars stuck in narrow lanes of Shahpur Jat. Delhi is Bangaliana of CR Park where I felt more of an outsider having made the very Punjabi Lajpat Nagar my home. Delhi is the hustler selling fake Ray Ban glasses and smuggled chapsticks at Sarojini. Delhi is the frenzy for buying Nehru jackets at Khadi Gram Udyog, Connaught Place. Delhi is the swag of a lawyer who flashes his Bar Council ID at the traffic police. Delhi is swords wielded by Sardars in middle of the road on lazy afternoons. Delhi is also gun shots or sound of crackers in Bhogal. I am not sure! Delhi is eye shattering bling of the wedding season, grown up women dressed as Cinderellas. Delhi is season’s Honey Singh songs playing on full blast at the neighbourhood DJ Party. Delhi is also Jazz concerts at Nehru Park where Audis and Jaguars jostle for parking.
Delhi is cry of the sabjiwalla selling sarson, palak, bathua and mooli . Delhi is the neighbourhood dairy selling the best paneer and fresh cream. Delhi is the declaration- ‘Don’t park here, tires would be deflated’ and ‘Jat boyz rulzzz’. Delhi is unobtrusive bellowing of gurbani every morning. Delhi is all night long jagratas where fat aunties blare tunelessly on microphones.
Delhi is an invincible summer that can’t be tamed by chaach from Mother Dairy and endless glasses of ice tea. Delhi is also earthen ‘pyaus ’covered with a red cloth offering respite. Delhi is a brutal, cold winter night when no matter what you do, your feet don’t warm up! Delhi is also beautiful winter mornings at Jangpura where sunlight streams through leaves.
Delhi is earthiness of May Day café. Delhi is a winter afternoon spent at Café Lota where suited lawyers don’t receive any special treatment. Delhi is pretentiousness of Cha Bar at Oxford Bookstore. Delhi is almost forgotten Midlands bookshop tucked away in a corner amidst the glitter of South Extension.
Delhi is a woman on yellow line who never fails to make me self conscious, that I should dress better, stop wearing those sandals and maybe comb my hair !Delhi is also a lone woman sitting on grass, reading her dog eared copy of Harry Potter at Lodhi Garden unaware of the world passing by. Delhi is hipster crowd of HKV women wearing crop tops and high heels. My Delhi is a lawyer in crushed white shirt after a long grueling day at the court, who while carrying a bag of vegetables, hums a tune to himself. Delhi is also bright eyed salwar kameez wearing school kids of Shadi Khanpur and Kotla Mubarakpur.
Delhi is vast ocean of humanity at Rajiv Chowk and the relief of finding familiar faces near Nirula’s. Delhi is smell of baked pieces of magic from Wengers and that Elixir from Keventers. Delhi is Kabutar Baazi on Sunday mornings overlooking Jama Masjid. Delhi is Hanuman ji of Jhandewalan, proud and standing tall. Delhi is the knot in my stomach at ISBT even when I had three male friends accompanying me.
I once had an indelible mark on my finger to prove that Delhi was mine. With that mark long gone, now I carry my Delhi with me.