15-Nov-2010

Delhi dazzle

Delhi is a city I have always loved to hate. The scary reasons exist of course – it is not safe for women, people can pull guns at you or worse, pull the trigger at you and all other things associated with crime and violence that come with people having too much power.

Yet perhaps the one reason I don’t particularly like Delhi is that it is so Delhi. This is, understandably a very superficial and highly offensive thing to say. Unfortuantely, this is also a serious drawback as I can see it. Everybody speaks with a slightly nasal ‘haan-ji’ accent. Everyone on the road is aggressive, despite the super-wide roads. Everyone dresses up in a similar manner. Everyone is into the whole ‘my house is bigger than yours. My maid drives a better car than yours’ competition. Somehow, Delhi never gives me a sense of diversity when I walk in its streets.

It also does not help that with my Mumbaiya Hindi (telling auto guys ‘station hoke jaana hai’ is so Bombay), my dark skin and my usually sober clothes, I stick out like a sore thumb in the city.

So everytime work takes me to Delhi, I safely tune out the city and sit in the car waiting to be ferried to my next destination. The one friend I have in Delhi, I explain away as a product of having lived outside of Delhi most of her life.

Yet my last trip made me look at the city with new eyes. I suddenly sounded all arty and French, going on about the ‘light’. The November sun was casting a soft yet sunny glow on the whole city and everything looked majestic, calm and peaceful. Newly cleaned up CP’s beautiful white buildings shone. Humayun’s Tomb and India Gate looked like entryways to magical worlds. Suddenly the roads did not look aggressive. The people looked gentler in the gentle light.

If all of this was not too much of a change in perspective to handle, I also got punched right in the face by Gurgaon when I went to watch ‘Zangoora

Oh Bombay, Bombay, how your glory has been swiped from under your feet by Gurgaon!

Zangoora turned out to be the ultimate Bollywood Musical. The sets were fantastic and state-of-the-art. The story was wafer-thin and was in place just so everyone had a reason to dance to the Bollywood numbers that kept coming in regular succession. The cast did all the Shiamak Davar steps one would like to see. Sure the dancing was sometimes off. The hero did have an annoying voice which did not entirely compensate for the rippling muscles that put in a display when he took off his shirt Salman Khan-ishtyle.

I sat enthralled, tapping my foot to every number while thanking the stars that my friend managed to get the last few tickets (The show has been sold out since it opened).

So the last trip has been an eye opener of sorts. I still don’t love Delhi but atleast it has got a nice roundness to its personality now.

4 comments:

Sonal said...

its wonderful feeling when your perspective on a city changes (for the better). it makes it so much nicer to go back there next time.

Rohini said...

I so want to see Zangoora!

Delhi's ok. It kicks Bombay's ass in many ways. Lodhi Gardens being one of them.

Anita said...

Sonal - yeah and I think I have finally learnt that the weather can make a big difference on how you feel about a place

Rohini - yes yes. You must go. Total paisa vasool.

Mum's delight said...

I don't think you can really love or hate a place unless you've lived a little while there. Delhi has a lot of pluses which many other cities in India don't. The schools are very good and the extracurriculars in most of the better schools is amazing as compared to most of the hole in the wall schools in Bombay. Some people can be very aggressive and in your face but most are not and I guess if you grow up there and spend enough time there you'll find all sorts of people in the city. There also a lo of cultural activities -plays/dance performances/recitals etc which happens because its the capital city. The parks are great and now with the metro the infrastructure is also getting better. Agree about the safety part but nowadays i dont think we can call any city particularly safe anymore.
Anyway enough of my ranting, Delhi's my number one city anytime and I can go on and on with this topic