Friday, June 5, 2009


It was the 1st of July, 2006, when my marriage with New Delhi was solemnised. It was an arranged marriage, a marriage of convenience. We did not know each other before then. We sure had met before and I had found it to be an attractive match. But the trouble almost always begins only after you start living with each other, when there is no coffee table between the two of you to hide what is best kept hidden.

So when the coffee table of malls, stalls and all no longer blinded my vision, came the time I was introduced to my in-laws – the people of Delhi. Like a coy, newly wed bride, I had hopes of settling down in an independent house of our own, as in a flat, for some much needed privacy. But One BHK Independent Flats is a concept still a few decades away from the heart of Delhi. And so rare are they to find that only the lottery winners of DDA or the disposing-income-with-vengeance MBAs can afford the few that there are.

I realized that the city was never made keeping in mind the privacy of the Rs. 2.3 Lakhs per annum baby engineers like me. For us the only option was the top floors of the houses of the kothiwalas. Our options were exponentially reduced when we wanted a separate entry. And like one of the K-series Nanads (sister in laws) who are sugar-sweet to the new brides but are back-biter-Komolikas actually, the overtly friendly brokers did their best to get me the rawest deals in the city. Finally, I settled down for a one B , no H, and K-on-the-terrace place , with entry right under the nose of my landlady!

This was my first stint with my in-laws – the people of Delhi. I soon realized that paying the rents was not enough. You have to be on “sweet and friendly” terms with your landladies. That’s because when they speak about you with the other aunties of the colony, you must be something they can show off as “sweet and friendly”, the trophy tenant. It certainly helps if you can help their day-dreaming child with algebra, and it jeopardizes your chances of stay if he then gets a D in algebra. You must be available at all of their lazy lamhe to sympathetically participate in one of those sessions when they bitch about everyone else they are “sweet and friendly” with. But mind you, you cannot call upon them in one of your lazy lamhe. For that is infringement of privacy!

By the way, soon they’ll get bored of you and you must now graciously make way for the other “sweet and friendly” tenants.

No wonder that I soon began disliking everything about the city. From the cloyingly “sweet and friendly” aunties who couldn’t care less if you ate a frog to the apathetic bystanders who too wouldn’t give a damn if a frog ate you! From the goggled, nose-in-the-air beauties that spoke in affected accents to the cars blaring Punjabi MC in bass-boost, the back of which almost always reads something like “ziddi jaat”.

The autowallahs who’d come up with excuses as lame as “madam aaj bahut garmi hai” to up the fare; the pepper sprays waiting to be sprayed in the eyes of a potential rapist; the DTC buses still running like mad bulls, stopping at whim, running people over with chutzpah… I have been cursing it all for three years now.

When a marriage goes bad, often people look outside of the relationship. After three years of trying to work it out in vein , my marriage with Delhi fell apart. But sometimes it takes a divorce to be able to see how much you miss your partner. As I now pack my bags for Gandhinagar, suddenly I am filled with a sense of longing, a sense of loss. Just as in an arranged marriage, I never knew when, amidst all the complaints, I fell in love with Delhi. A lot of time what pains you about a break-up is not the bitterness but the memories of all the good times that you shared. And you ask yourself, “Could they have been real??”… So here I am asking myself, “ Did I really hate Delhi as much as I claimed to all this time??”

I know the answer is a No. A No in bold! Suddenly, all the BCs and MCs that the Dilliwallahs hurl effortlessly in a fit of road rage seem friendly, rather than abusive, utterances. The bass-boost Punjabi MC music of the ziddi jaats brings a smile to my face. The metro lines that were only lumps of concrete and steel when I first saw them, now, in their full glory, remind me of a line from a Horlicks ad-jingle “ Kab chupke se hui badi”!!

If Delhi smacks of the arrogance of the politically connected and the nouveau riche, then it is also vibrant with bright, genuine people, brimming with ideas. For every twenty apathetic bystanders, I found at least one person who is willing to help and make a difference.

Delhi has been that marriage the purpose of which is to teach as you grow together. And by the way, it becomes beautiful in the night ;)


Prashant Singh said...

I just hope that more folks (or at least me ) get a chance to move out of this city to see it the way you are seeing it right now . from a distance .

the who said...

come to Gandhinagar :)

Prashant Singh said...

Surely someday

Kinshu said...

I simply loved this blog... great work!

the who said...

@ Kinshu - am happy that you liked it :)
it was a long and tiring day but your words acted like a shot in the arm..i'm up and about again!