Impressions

I am tempted to pen down another piece on Delhi after Deepika's (post below) spontaneous overflow of powerful emotions. Lutyen's Delhi, home to myriads of students, professionals, migrants from other states and expats is a world in itself, where you learn the lessons of life on a daily basis. If there is one common emotion that people share with this cosmopolitan capital of India, it is love and hate. And the reason why I call it a paradox.

I have lived for over a decade in Delhi and it is strange I haven't been able to call it home. Ask a third person and the chances of getting a similar reply are 100 per cent. Why is Delhi so feelingless? Why do people find it difficult to love Delhi? Why is it that a city that also gives us so much doesn't earn the respect it is due? The answers are but fathomable.

Like Deepika, I too came to Delhi -- raw, eager to experience the city's novelties and find a decent job. Getting a decent break was not as tough as living in the city was, I gradually realised. Finding a house topped the hardships list. Echoing Deepika, women just have no place in a society that looks upon single, working women as automatically available. Most of these people who lease and rent out accomodations are typically business class and even if they are not, their mindsets towards female tenants belong to the same school of thought. So, you are subjected to hundreds of querries, the main one being if there were male friends, and if yes, there can be no male visitors because "Mahol kharab ho jaate hain" (the environment gets spoilt). Whatever that implies, but they also love to play the moral policeman, and more given a chance.

The male friend bit one can handle. Friends invariably become brothers. But you experience worser stuff. The power meter is linked to the rest of the house and even if you spend most of your working hours in the office, the bill at the end of the month is a whopping sum. No arguments there, because they would find another tenant and share the commission with the property dealer, who charges nothing less than two and a half month's rent as commisson. The more frequent the change of tenants, the better for them. Quite a vicious circle. Then, supply of water is strictly monitored and even if you have guests once in a while, the problem of water remains your headache. The rest are not worth mentioning and leaves a bad taste in the mouth.

Hopping into a bus to get to work or anywhere is no joy ride.The rude, lecherous bus conductor overloads his bus, and them compete full speed with other buses amid the chaotic traffic. As for women passengers, the rough ones fight it out, the others suffer in silence . If there is one distinct feature about Delhi, it is this perennial presence of the lech everywhere. No corner feels safe. The three-wheeler autorickshaw driver is not far behind. He adjusts his mirror to check you out unmindful of the traffic or the vehicles following his. And his meter stops the moment he starts his day, haggling with him is routine.

I have a famous parachute tale in this regard, which few friends know of. One evening, four of us took the rickie to reach some place and after settling for a price. On reaching the place, the rickshawalla wanted more money because he said he didn't expect the place to be far. I said he wasn't driving in Haryana so he should know better and that he shouldn't have been greedy enought to fix a price instead of going by the meter as was the rule. Defeated, the man blurted out swear words in Hindi. I heard it and the next thing I was standing next to him and mouthing the same verbal buses (which I'd just learnt) and because it rhymed so well with parachute ended with it. With his limited knowledge of English, the man was left perplexed, while my friends laughed the loudest. He must have thought that was the ultimate of abuses.

This is Delhi. Its story is one that gets worse before it gets any better. Everyone is rude. The sweeper, the shopkeeper, the vendors. Especially with our features, the think they can get away with rudeness, for reasons best known to them. I don't know when the society here would turn civil and learn to smile. But live we must, bind by our own compulsions.

The only saving grace about Delhi is that it has given me some genuine friends. The hardships, then, are worth it, you think. After all, to live the best lives we can, we need friends.
Impressions Impressions Reviewed by Indira on November 17, 2007 Rating: 5

1 comment:

Dilip Mutum said...

Had to pass by Delhi everytime I went back home from my University and back and it was kind of exciting. Probably because I didn't stay there and had loads of friends and relative staying there.

Nice blog.

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