To call this city my favourite would be a tad too intense; to call it just another place that I have lived in would be a tad too unfair; but to call it mine would be just right. Maybe it’s because it is only your own city that you can describe in expletives to your fellow residents and defend it to death when in conversation with those from other cities. Hence, in spite of the daily auto-rickshaw haggling, I hailed the city’s transport system as the best in front of my Bangalore mates, and in spite of having appreciated the beauty of the neo-Gothic architecture of Kala Ghoda in Bombay (Censor Board, don’t book me!), I convinced myself that CP was just as beautiful, if not more spacious and navigable.
Behind the closed doors of my hostel though, much have I mocked the pretences and paradoxes of the city and plenty have I cribbed about, all in the safe company of friends who, like me, have gotten even with the city over time. But I do remember feeling bruised on coming across an essay titled “Delhi: The Alchemy of an Unloved City”. In stark opposition to the romantic description of Bombay and its struggles, was Delhi left unloved? After much thought, it dawned on me that I only romanticise Old Delhi when I have to describe the joys of street food to a friend from school; I see no charm in its cramped alleys otherwise. My Delhi begins at Hauz Khas and ends with CP, and what’s not to love there? I am that privileged migrant not sparing a chance to curse the city I dare not leave.
I don’t know if or how I made my peace with Delhi, but now that we are mere days away from teary farewells and jazzy sarees, there is a more profound question to ask- is it the city that I love or the people that I know here? If I were to stay on in Delhi, what would my most special and painful moment be? Speeding overhead from Moolchand to Kailash Colony, not stopping at what used to be home in the middle and thinking of how strange it is that my little room there is no longer mine. Therein is my answer. It is not a glimpse of the Qutub Minar that I will pine for; I may live in Delhi and see it each day. It is in the endless cackle coming from the sunny lawns, it is in the one-stop destination that the famed Guru Nanak Market of my backyard is. That is the comfort zone that I callDelhi. As for those of you with yet more years to spend here, may your comfort zones be the solace that you return to after the daily haggling in the autos and pushing in the metros. In the meantime, in your little part of the city, keep making memories.
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