There was something about the chilly air of approaching winter that always got me excited about North India. Delhi in November lay blanketed among thick layers of mist and smog, all quiet and serene when you gazed at it from an aeroplane window.
Contrary to all my previous visits to the capital, this time it was different. I had an agenda to follow. Work was needed to be done. 6 years of studies in the city had left me well tutored in the local mannerism and customised my outlook of its inhabitants. I was all ready to tackle anything that came my way. The ‘Dilliwaala’ in me, bash with accented Haryanvi dialect was all bursting to come out. I had drawn mental plans of doing crazy stuff, revisiting all those places that left me with nostalgia and filling my starved stomach with oodles of joyous ‘masaledaar’ food. Nothing such happened. Delhi was different. Or had I changed?
The train journey to Delhi was comfortable, other than the sometimes pesky Rajdhani waiters and the four hour delay thanks to an engine derailment near Mathura. I called up my friends, reached their apartment and was momentously left searching for words. Well, living in confined quarters for 4 summers in this place can make a man teary once he sees huge rooms that begged to sock-slid upon. (Mental sock-slide!) Work at the school began and things started moving rather the way I imagined. Little did I know that my foresight of the ‘things-to-be-done-in-Delhi’ list was getting checked there and then.
Call me pretentious, but the city had a charm of attracting even the worst of loathers. I mean, Mumbaikars are famous for hating Delhi. The weather got too hot, they said, and the autos didn’t run on the meter! I don’t mind at all. I was always good at bargaining and often tried to lower the rates set by the auto-drivers. Delhi in its own way has sweet hidden nectar that drew me towards it like a bee. The hustle of the crowded metro platforms, the pleasure on getting a seat in the train, the foggy winter mornings, the thundering monsoon skies, the spectacularly lit markets on the eve of Diwali, the streets of New Delhi, the monuments, the food, the people. The city managed to conjure its own beautiful love portion that kept me glued each time I was here.
I realized that during the past few years I always had the best of company, some amazing friends who made each day as memorable as the last. Countless pictures filled not just photo albums on Facebook but unlimited spaces in our hearts too. This time around the city somehow grew out and reached me. I was given a chance to walk the streets, see the city lights and share its joy all the more. We have countless reasons that make our lives beautiful. Well I had just one, and that was more that I could ever ask for. Sometimes all you needed was a donut, vintage blues on the speakers and trees blooming with twinkling lights on a terrace.
Delhi could always remain a city to you unless we have the perfect company. Or else you would want to return home the very next day you arrived. But for the first time, I saw the city for what it was - more than mere columns of concrete and criss-cross of unending tarred roads. It gave me reason, just like every other time to want to come back. I realized no matter how much I changed, the city would be constant. I had big Delhi-plans, seems Delhi had planned otherwise.