Monday, October 31, 2005

Of living in the whore-city

Delhi grows on you. It is an acquired taste. Like whiskey or like seafood. I used to hate the sprawling metropolis like anything when I had begun my professional life there. But now I am in Bangalore; and there are times when I miss the earthiness, the unpredictability of the whore-city.

The first sight itself in the morning as the train cut through the NCR suburbs was revolting. Banal station names that had no poetry. Like Shakur Basti or Buradi. Far from the tintinabulating Chinsurah or Dankuni. Walls splattered with the ubiquitous Dr Kothari peddling quack treatments for sexual dysfunctions. Or, just the brown scrubs that seemed to grow everywhere.

They were so depressing. And then the heat, the ungainly jaats (whom I later came to admire, another acquired taste!) and the marauding blue-lines.

But the city grew on me. The wide roads, the vast stretches of open land and the winters. Fog rolling down the Noida link road, over the Yamuna. The few days of rains were magical – roasted corncobs and warm chicken soup – stubbing out…

The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
And now a gusty shower wraps
The grimy scraps
Of withered leaves about your feet
And newspapers from vacant lots;
The showers beat…


Then there was Karim’s. Mutton stew and barra kebabs. Bumping into 500-year-old decrepit Mughal architechture on traffic islands. Janpath with its bargain-friendly hawkers selling NewYork runway stuff. And Dilli Haat and Sarojini Nagar Market. I loved all of them.

So, it pains when I hear of blasts in Delhi.

And I know that acquired tastes stay with you for your life.

12 Comments:

At 11:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

let the animals who bloodied delhi read this. i doubt they never lived in delhi.
for that matter, they never lived in kashmir also. too busy to train between iraq-afghanistan-chechniya-pakistan-pok-iok. and getting killed or maimed even before they can love anything. city is a far cry.
in that short span, they cannot love humanity also.

 
At 11:30 AM, Blogger Tridib said...

A great follow-up to your earlier pujo post! Yes, Delhi is a city people love to hate, but there's something about the city, that makes you nostalgic. It's a city where several eras exist side-by-side, from the decrepit Mughal-era forts to the colonial hangover of Lutyen's Delhi to the modern chrome and glass of the mushrooming malls!

 
At 9:55 AM, Blogger A fool on the hill said...

Anon: and getting killed or maimed even before they can love anything. city is a far cry. In that short span, they cannot love humanity also.
Wonderful words those.
Delhi is indeed a much-maligned city. Calcuttans will say the city has no culture. Take the name of Ronaldo and your average Delhiite will ask whether it’s the new cell phone model. A Mumbaiya will say Delhi is not safe for women and that it has no night life. And suchlike.
It’s very difficult to explain why I had grown to like Delhi. Maybe because I associate it with my first taste of freedom, with the thrill of earning my first salary, with the pleasure of driving on fifth gear for miles…
It might not be anything to do with the people or the cultural vacuity or the sheer geographical monstrosity, for all you know.

Tridib: Thanks. And we shall raise a toast to the long gone Delhi days this weekend.

 
At 10:51 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

one thing more about your favourite city. did you hear it, anything that moves in salwar gets raped in delhi. what say about it?

 
At 8:40 PM, Anonymous Hyacinth Girl said...

As always, Fool, great post. Keep up the good work.

Yes, the Delhi blasts were painful, made moreso with body parts flashed proudly on Headlines Today.

Delhi, which evoked so much hatred and distaste after beloved old Kolkata, finally managed to grow on me too. At the end, there was this arms-length respect for its obsession with power and the quick buck. You cannot ignore that... For every siesta-loving Kolkatan, I guess you need a married-to-money Delhi-ite to balance things out

 
At 11:45 PM, Blogger Roshomon said...

I wish I could get used to Delhi...
6 years and I still hate the place.

 
At 11:36 AM, Blogger A fool on the hill said...

Hyacinth Girl: Thanks. It's true how the channels are getting gross by the day in the war for eyeballs.

Roshomon: Great to have you here. Give it some more time is all I can advise!

 
At 3:33 AM, Blogger The Marauder's Map said...

Beautifully evocative post. Brings back lots of shared memories of a time gone by. Not necessarily a picture-perfect time, but made pretty by the fact that it has indeed gone by.

And on a much more prosaic note, have you noticed that it is infinitely easier to be nostalgic about Delhi when the winter's approaching?

 
At 9:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoyed you blog about home based travel business. I also have a site about home based travel business which makes me appreciate this one even more! Keep up the good work!

 
At 2:39 PM, Anonymous Ph said...

To digress a little, you are in Bangalore! Would do anything to be there. :(

 
At 8:28 AM, Blogger A fool on the hill said...

MM: Thanks. You are correct. Delhi becomes so much more hospitable during the winters.

ph: I presume you are a non-Delhiite, having to live in Delhi. It's so much a city of extremes (just like its weather) -- you either love it or you hate it! On the other hand, Bangalore is a simple, uncomplicated and predictable city. Am yet to come across a person who dislikes the place, notwithstanding its pollen-heavy asthma-inducing air.

 
At 11:29 PM, Blogger Mayan Buddha said...

nicely written....as someone who returned to Delhi after a gap of nearly two years, I did find that the way I look at Delhi and vice versa changed dramatically...as a student, I found the city more hospitable, more friendly...as a journo, I find the contrasts more stark, more difficult to digest...bt I still love the city...at least, it has a character...

 

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