It’s been five months since I came back to my hometown, and as fate would have it, it was just today that I stumbled upon a video that reminded me of everything that had made me fall head over heels in love with Delhi. Throughout the video, I had this sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, a feeling of longing and unadulterated love. Realising that it was about time I confronted all these emotions, I decided to write an ode to the city I now call mine: Dilli.
At first glance, Delhi might seem a little alien to you, people a little too distant, and the weather a little too harsh. However, with time, the city will open its arms to you; after all, it’s a city that sees thousands of people coming in every day from different parts of the country, trying to make it big in India’s heart. Yes, Delhi does belong to everyone that sets foot in the city.
When I came to the city just three years back, I was overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of it, but more than that, I was in awe; in awe of how every place I visited had an element of familiarity to it like the place had seen me before. The lanes of Parathe Wali Gali, the colonial Connaught Place, the metro rides, will greet you like a long lost lover, and before you know it, the city will become your own.
Somewhere in the middle of long drives to Murthal, sunsets at Jama Masjid, and devouring Chole Bhature at Haldiram’s, you find your happy place. You will find yourself complaining about Dilli ki Sardi but believe me, Daulat ki Chaat and Gajar ka Halwa don’t taste the same any other time of the year. And I know you swear by Zara and Mango, but there is a different addictive charm to bargaining in Sarojini Nagar and Janpath.
I had never really been a big fan of momos, but there is something else in the sight of 14-year-olds in their school uniforms assembling near their favourite stall in the scorching heat of May, relishing the staple food of the city. It makes you rise above the trivial everyday problems and realise that at the end of the day, there is nothing that cannot be fixed with a little gossiping session with your friends.
I can picturise myself, 20 years down the lane, passing through Lodhi Garden and The Big Chill and reminiscing the best times I have had with a bunch of people I can count on forever. When you move away from Delhi, you realise the worth of having ice cream at India Gate on a cold winter evening and dancing like there is no tomorrow at HKV.
Even as I write this, I have strange butterflies in my stomach, the kind you get when you confess your love to someone, not knowing how they will react. Malikzada Manzoor Ahmad has aptly captured my feeling when he says,
“Chehre pe saare sheher ke gard-e-malal hai
Jo dil ka haal hai, vahi dilli ka haal hai “
Hoping we meet again.