Notes from Delhi: Etcetera, Etcetera

It’s 4.30 am. I’ve just finished four loads of laundry and downed a particularly potent cup of lemon tea (3 tea bags in one cup).

I’m a little appalled at how dumbed down my writing has become. Sentences have become alarmingly staccato like and the content vacillates between touristy Delhi posts or ‘OMG. I miss home’ posts. So instead of griping about lost mojo,  I’ve forced myself to sit down, write whatever pops up into my head and try and get into the groove once again (I can’t believe I just used that phrase). I can’t promise that everything is going to make sense but at least I can get some of the thoughts festering in my head out there.

Also, the left side of my keyboard stopped working a few weeks back and I’m left to the mercies of the onscreen keyboard because I’ve been too chicken to battle the Hindi speaking computer guys at Nehru Place and too afraid of being ripped off.

My work is cut out for me.

*

I believe that everyone has a story to tell.

Some stories are meant to be shared over drinks and raucous laughter. Some are let slip hesitantly, over a rare, reckless moment of confidentiality, often regretted later. Others speak for themselves and remain etched on faces, on hands even.

Some stories remain blissful secrets – replayed in your head, a slow smile spreading over your face as you’re about to turn in for the night.  Others, cushioned in pain and denial and locked in the darkest corner of your mind, never to be let out.

These stories have varying names – scars, baggage, anecdotes, issues, memories, snapshots.

Call it what you will, but everyone has a story to tell.

*

I love meeting new people. It’s not a popularity thing (I’m strangely anti social at times). I’m just constantly in search of kindred spirits. Kindred spirits are sadly far and few between so instead I now look for conversation chemistry – because there are conversations and then there are conversations.

While kindred spirits are in short supply, conversation chemistry can occur in the most unexpected places. Throw in a few interesting people and good atmosphere or even an email thread and decent spelling and the results are positively electric. Good chemistry is completely independent of the content and context of the conversation. The secret is in the people who partake in it and sometimes the most unexpected of people have the most to offer. I may not always be the most vocal in discussions but I love basking in the atmosphere of great conversation. Honestly, it’s positively intoxicating.

*

Delhi is an exceedingly complex city. It’s easy to lose faith in a city like this. There are times it welcomes you and times, when it repels. This city leaves its mark on you – whether good or bad, is entirely dependent on your survival mechanism. But at the same time, it’s a city which constantly surprises you. And I love that.

One of my favourite memories of Delhi so far is at a little cafe in Paharganj. M  hdn’t been to Paharganj, so I took her there. It was Ramazan and it was time to break fast. The owner of the cafe ushered us to a table. He asked if either of us were fasting (rohza, it’s called in Hindi) and upon hearing that I was fasting, insisted that we sit with him and break fast. He waved aside my protests firmly and I was pushed into an Ifthar banquet of sorts. Picture three tables pushed together and white bowls piled high with apples, grapes, pineapple, dates and oranges. Plates of pakoras and samosas, bottles of juice and even more  plates filled with exotic middle Eastern dishes I’d never seen before dotted the table.

The thing is, during Ramazan, I used to break fast with a cheese sandwich, dates and water. I don’t make a fuss about what I eat – I’m far too tired by the time the sun sets and I just grab some dinner later on. So when this stranger sat me down at his table and fed me this veritable fest I was so grateful I could weep.

Thank you sir, you may not have known it but you made a very tired, homesick girl’s day that evening.

Notes from Delhi: The Swell Season


The weather a week back was fantastic – warm with just the hint of a chill in the air. I love flowers and our college lawns had just bloomed and were overflowing with ‘em so it was only natural that I spent most of my time sleeping studying in the lawns.The weather over here is either extremely hot or achingly cold so I did as much sightseeing as I could over the past month in order to make the most of this heavenly weather.  If any of you plan on coming to Delhi – come in February. When you do, bring some of my mum’s cake please.

It’s gotten ever so warm now. I hung onto my sweatshirts for as long as I could but I’m about to go pack up my winter clothes and dig up the summer wardrobe. If that doesn’t signal the end of the season, I don’t what does. Not really looking forward to summer very much. It was so hot when I first arrived here that the only thing keeping me running back home was the fact that my dad had my passport with him.

Anyhoo, this post is a eulogy to Spring. Spring, you were beautiful. I can’t wait for you to come back.

 

Since I’ve peppered this with flowers I’m going to go the whole hog (I’ve never understood that expression either. Always wanted to use it though) and post pictures of the two birthday bouquets. Just because.

*Title reference from here. Completely unrelated I know, but it was either that or ‘OMG, FLOWERS ARE SO PRETTY1!!

Notes from Delhi: Holi and other things..

 

I’ve successfully discovered how to avoid being hit by the water balloon toting little monkeys that hang around rooftops and balconies waiting for unsuspecting targets. Holi is this weekend and I’m informed that this gives everyone the right to chuck water balloons TWO weeks prior to the actual festival.

The key is to observe the road instead of keeping a wary eye skywards when walking (if you’re on a rickshaw, well there’s really not much you can do). If there are splatter marks on the road, it means there’s a perpetrator nearby. In which case you have two options – keep your head down and run for it OR openly acknowledge their presence by smiling at them and pray that you can win ‘em over. The latter saved me from being drenched twice on my way back today, BUT be mindful that it all depends on the nature of the thrower. If it’s a good natured kid, you can get away with a smile but more often than not, if it’s a brat pack or a bunch of men reliving their childhood, I’d advise you to run.

I got my first taste last week when P and I were heading home in a rickshaw. I was actually alright being drenched until P informed me that the less evolved men of Delhi have been known to fill water balloons with…other substances. This was of course my cue to race back home, jump into the shower and immerse my clothes in Dettol just to be safe (we didn’t get a glimpse of the thrower. And believe me, the men here are capable of anything).

So I’m a little apprehensive about my first Holi here. My last Holi was back at home, at a hotel amidst Indian expats and tourists so it was a bit like walking into the Hilton and ordering a kottu. I’ve heard so much about the festival, both good (if celebrated with the right crowd) and bad (three words: Bhaang, eggs and vegetables. Do the math), that I’m incredibly curious. Let’s see how it pans out.

*

It had been ages since I actually sat down to watch a movie. I tend to lose concentration after the 22 or 42 minute mark (American TV shows and Twitter, you will be the death of the little concentration I possess) so I’ve temporarily abandoned my TV shows in favour of movies. Started with ‘Easy A’ and ‘Ramona and Beezus’ (You know, to ease myself into the heavy stuff later on)

Also, is it wrong that I really liked both of them? Joey King was adorable and has the most interesting face and I’m looking forward to seeing more of Emma Stone.

*

 

This was made by my Indian peeps. 🙂