By Charul Prabhakar:
May God bless Mr. E. Sreedharan and his future generations too. Delhi owes him so much for providing its people with the metro- that revolutionized commuting in the capital. It is quite a well-known fact that one of the biggest joys a middle-class Delhiite can experience is when he/she manages to acquire a seat in the Metro. Their faces glow with relief and the smiles never seem to fade. I know this well, because I am one of those people.
Delhi makes me fall more in love with it with every passing day and the charm only strengthens at night. The city lights leave us mesmerized, even while we are stuck in traffic and the local eunuchs bug us for money. Yes eunuchs along with a couple of beggars- they seem to adorn every traffic signal. Sometimes, they give us an impression as if it is their right to beg. But it really is a kind of a strategy. First they will make humble requests, then they will go on to bless you and if that does not work, they will proceed to shove a malnourished baby into your face in order to extract sympathy and currency.
Bizarre, isn’t it? Not to the Dilliwallahs!Â That is what Delhi is all about. It boasts of some very posh colonies, people of high stature and expensive cars, yet the sabziwallahs can be heard shouting “aalu lo, matar lo” and housewives haggling over the prices in their horrendous nightgowns, demanding the vendor to give free dhaniya (coriander) even if they bought only five lemons. We hang out at expensive malls while wearing branded outfits, listening to Bob Marley, binging on the ‘Sub of the day’ and still have our taste buds tingling for golgappe and chaat. Yes everyone, it is golgappe and we hate it when it is called paanipuri.
Delhiites are a weird bunch and it actually is an understatement. We like to think of ourselves as a broad-minded and an unorthodox lot. But we do get into a dilemma when our highly-educated and ambitious daughter, who absolutely loves her job, is seen as a match for an NRI second cousin’s second cousin at the tender age of twenty-three. We cannot decide whether we should marry her off for a good life in Kanedda (That’s how most of us like to pronounce ‘Canada’) or succumb to her stubbornness to prosper? And then we boast of intellectual freedom.
“Our son is going to become an engineer. Civil or mechanical, that’s his choice. We are putting no pressure there, you see. But engineering it is. Yes, engineering.”
“Anything else? No alternatives?”
“Of course not, it is the best course for him. He writes well, yes. But he wants to be an engineer and make his dad proud. Don’t you, son? Obviously he does. Enough now, Bunty. Go and study”
Delhi is a city where the rags and riches have an equal share. The rich follow the ‘have it-flaunt-it‘ policy and the poor have a ‘don’t-have-it-yet-flaunt-it’ policy. You see, the slums are not exactly treated as something to be hidden or removed or replaced by a proper residential area for the dwellers. It is treated like the great Indian souvenir, at least by the government. They are for the eyes of the foreigners so that they can feel bad for them and give speeches highlighting their miseries. And why do we not care? Because we are conveniently indifferent to their existence.
The rich, however, are snug and comfortable in their Sainik Farms, Defence Colony, Greater Kailash and New Friends Colony bungalows. They enjoy the hyped Delhi nightlife, all that shopping and basically every luxury that the city has to offer. It is as easy to find a convertible Ferrari in the South as finding a slum in the East.
They say, it is a jungle out there and Delhi is one of the scariest. But none of us can do without the great Delhi life. We are one crazy bunch of people. We experience everything that life has to offer. The city is our baby and the essence resides in our blood.