Monday, November 06, 2006

The Delhi one

When asked where I am from I usually describe myself as a Delhi-ite. I spent the better part of my growing up years in Delhi. School and then later on a few years of work and an MBA. I missed out on the whole college scene though, no U-special for me. And at some level I regret that.

But this post is not about regrets. It is about joy. That is the joy I feel every time I land at Indira Gandhi International. I try and elongate my neck and lean across the people sitting in the window and middle seats just to catch that first glimpse of a brightly lit city by night. And there is a tear in my eye. Although this time (and almost every time seeing as I have such as rubbish record with good flights) I suspect the tear was partly from relief of escaping all the crazed passengers with me.

The sight of my beaming parents’ faces and tight hugs reminds me how much I miss them and how far apart we now live. And I am so glad to be in Delhi.

I had only seven days in Delhi so I had to make the most of every minute.

So instead of boring you with the details I’ve made a list of highlights:

1. First things first. Food is always my focus when I am in India and I wanted to make sure that I could eat out wherever whenever and not fall ill. So the first order of the day was to buy mineral water. Lots of advice from people about which Mineral water to buy and finally it came down to Himalaya and Evian. Sorted.

2. Our family is a bit like a pod and it was a bit of a grand reunion for all us peas. We all arrived on different flights at different times but by the end of it we had my dad back from his travels, the Nik from Chennai and V & I from London. The additional bonus was seeing my utterly elegant grandmother who is staying with my parents for the moment. And of course there was my ever patient mother mothering her family till at least I felt wrapped up in a precious shawl.

3. I did the smart and very Indian thing and carried samples of my cushion covers. I spent an inordinate amount of time in Fabindia buying upholstery material (very grown up!) and then thanks to my mum’s skill of organizing stuff I gave all 30 meters of cloth to the ‘masterji’ who proceeded to churn out 14 very large cushion covers in record time. Now that I am back the new covers are one and it all looks very nice thank you!

4. I spent a lovely morning with my best buddy from school. We sat on the floor of a silver shop and bought our weight in jewelry. I don’t see nearly enough of her and it was a wonderful morning, talking about this that nothing something life death.

5. Two things with Nik deserve mention in the same point. One, I finally got to meet the girlfriend. And she is lovely. Second, we had a mad afternoon careening around Delhi looking for a car showroom. We were trying to convince my parents that their car needed an upgrade and so the plan was to visit a few showrooms and look at some options. We drove all the way to Connaught Place stopping at Green Park and various other places we thought there might be showrooms. As it turned out we found none. They have all relocated from the houses converted to showrooms that populated the outskirts of colonies. We ended up eating chicken patties and shami kebabs at Wengers and drinking cold coffee at Keventers. So it was certainly not an afternoon wasted. And ironically we did find car showrooms in the most unexpected quarter – just down the road from our house - so we need not have traveled that whole distance. It was a lovely afternoon though, loads of talking at the same time. And even after all these years Wengers rocks!!

6. One of my classmates from college (let’s call him Rabbit) got engaged while I was in town. He is the last of us lot to be getting hitched. Not unusual as he has always been late for everything as far back as I can remember – late for class, late for meals, late for movies, late for life. And his is not the rushing-around-in-mad-panic kind of late. It’s the Oh-life-is-too-damn-hectic/laid-back/short/long-to-be-rushing-around kind of late. And despite having missed whole days in life (lost to sleep) Rabbit is one of the nicest people I know. His niceness makes up for his lateness. And I don’t say that lightly or just for anyone (I intensely dislike unpunctual people). Anyway, his engagement was great fun. All my classmates were joking with the bride-to-be about how long it must have taken her to snag him, and how did she ever manage to get him to come to the engagement on time. It was a fun fun fun evening – and everyone came to the conclusion that even 10 years after we left college it all seems like just yesterday that we were all living in each others pockets. We also found everything utterly amusing and by the time we went home both my jaw and stomach were aching from all that laughter.

7. Now that I no longer live in Delhi everyone treats me a bit like a firangi (foreigner). Don’t eat this. Don’t drink that. Don’t go there. Sit in air-conditioning lest you melt. Well I have the constitution of iron woman and ate everything I could. Food wise my only concession was the water. I traveled in an auto (only the once and much against everyone’s wishes) and reached home alive and on a direct route. Come on people I’m not going to lose the way – I have lived here like forever.

8. Delhi, Lutyens bit, is beautiful. Tree-lined wide avenues and pavements. India gate. Rashtrapati bhavan. Flanking either end of a long stretch. And no matter how many times I see it I am amazed by the network of flyovers. The AIIMS one is just a piece of art. And Connaught place is ultra organized, much easier to walk, park and generally looking cleaner and neater than I can ever remember it being. The metro seems to be functioning to everyones advantage. I had no chance to get on it – I’ve promised myself that next time I shall. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I love Delhi.

9. The weather was just genius. Bright sunshine and hot days. The only firangi thing about me is that I now actively seek the sunshine. Where earlier I would have loved to sit in air-conditioned comfort this time I enjoyed the sun. And then the night before I left it rained and I woke up to one of my favourite smells in the world – geeli mitti ki khushboo (the smell of wet earth). It was the perfect end to a perfectly formed holiday.

I wouldn’t have had it any other way.


  1. Anonymous1:02 AM

    all i can say is "mmmmm wengers" 40in2006

  2. I second that....wengers!

  3. Anonymous3:53 AM

    Ah ..brings back memories of college. . and the many wasted hours in CP.

  4. Nice :)

    geeli mitti ki khushboo - How I wish I could store it up in a bottle and smell it whenever I feel like it! :D

  5. 40in2006 and Beks: Yes, there is nothing quite as good as Wengers.

    Pea: As I said I never got to ride that U-special so I can never have memories of college in Delhi. I have however spent many a wonderful/ wasteful hour in CP!

    Shub: What a best seller that would be!!

  6. Good to see your priority no. 1. I am glad you had a good time in Delhi.

  7. First time to your blog and I must say I got so immersed in your narration that I could feel myself careening to Connaught Place and smelling the wet earth! Wonderful :)

  8. What a wonderful post! And I must take tips from your fab-india raid for the next time I go home! :)

  9. Parth: I certainly prioritise with somewhat a selfish mood in mind. I had a blast!

    Siri: Why thank you! yes, I am seriously considering Shub's idea of bottling up that wonderful smell!!

    Sonal: Only ever be careful of checking that it's dye-fast colours, some of fab india's stuff bleeds really badly and then maintenance becomes a chore. But as value for money upholstery that will not wear/tear for the next 15 years I would highly recommend them. I intend to get another set made by my skillful 'masterji' tailor!

  10. Anonymous1:37 AM

    Silver shopping while sitting on the Babar Road, near Bengali market?

    Thats an experience!


  11. The cold weather is making me miss home even more. I have fond memories of shopping at Connaught Place-a heaven for bric a brac. And of course, the Lutyen parts which are so majestic.

  12. N: Near Bengali Market alright - I'm not sure it was Babar road though...

    Jane: Lutyens did Delhi some immense favours - central delhi is the most majestic part of the city and a visual delight for those who visit it. CP, what can I say, it brings out the eat/ shop aholic in me!

  13. sounds like a great little vacation, described very beautifully.

  14. note taken of the bleeding fabs....thanks for the tip!:)

  15. loved your delhi posts... i'm now back in delhi, under a changed name :)... but it's lovely as ever..

    and fabindia.. most fabrics are fine, but watchout for the firozi's - the turquoises. white pants sitting on tuquoise upholstery is a no no.