The Delhi Diary

Posted on February 22, 2012 in Travel

By Dhara P Shah:

It was definitely not love at first sight for me. I hated the crudeness, the crassness and the cacophony of it all. It was like ‘living’ a nightmare with Technicolor and surround sound. Usurped from the quiet confines of the beach-lined city of Chennai, here I was- a stranger amidst more than a million people, not knowing them and fearing not being known. Delhi was so not the city I had envisioned it to be.

The Delhi that I experienced firsthand brought to mind scary headlines- of rape, of gore, of random killings and violence. It brought to mind immense noise. This was not a subtle city by any means! It was a world where everyday conversation was replaced by cussing, where sentences were interspersed with never-heard-of swear words (and in stinging combinations), where the F-word was used more as an adjective than a verb and where you couldn’t find solitude even if it existed anywhere. It was not Dalrymple’s ‘city of djinns’- more like a city of greed, gluttony, of the sarkar and its sloth.

Delhi, before my somewhat unfortunate arrival there, was in my mind a place about power- about possessing it, wielding it and retaining it. It was a city that decided the fate of a billion people, a metropolis that was the crown of Indian democracy, a conserve of the country’s history and a conurbation of its intellectual elite. It wasn’t like the ‘calony’ of debauchery, pretence and its liaison with pompousness that I was seeing. It was a place that was loud, overbearing and made me question my sanity. To make matters worse, I was to be at JNU- a self- sufficient mini Republic where the world was a vivid red; Marx almost a deity and Lenin & the revolutionaries – demigods.

When people told me that Delhi, the city, would make me forget Bombay, I was amused- and not in a good way. I would merely shake my head at them, roll my eyes and pity them for their ignorance about Mumbai – a city that was for me pulsating with life, vibrant and simply stimulating. I was almost proven right. Co-hostellers and classmates shared similar horror stories; stories that were filled with disgust at Delhi and displayed an antipathy towards it. Half a year went by – full of cribbing and complaining over what the city lacked and what it should have had. Nitpicking continued even in terms of its geography and physical location and I whined and grumbled all the while that I was there. I almost wept in joy when it was time for winter break. Never had homecoming been so looked forward to, so anticipated or so longed for. I smiled, for real, for the first time in the 6 months that I had been in Delhi- and that was because I was getting away from it and heading home.

But what started off as a horror story did have a happily ever after.…And I will be back with the insights of that.

Youth Ki Awaaz is an open platform where anybody can publish. This post does not necessarily represent the platform's views and opinions.

Did you know you can add a post on Youth Ki Awaaz too? Get started here.