A little lost, a little more petrified, I entered Delhi with so many questions about the unknown that lay ahead of me. Delhi’s beauty and charm have always kept me grounded. As I leave this place soon, I wanted to share my ways of coping with Delhi and its vagaries.

I have never loved Delhi, I still don’t. The pollution here makes my lungs sick to the core, the gaze of certain eerie men colonizing the turn around a lonely street makes me want to vanish, the dichotomy of bungalows lining the colonies of GK and children begging on every red light, the disparity between the ignorant filthy rich ones and gross ghettoization of a certain few, the disgusting student politics of DU, the scorching sweltering summers, the smoggy and bitter winters, and the list for why Delhi is not the most lovable place for me continues. But for the last three years that I have spent here, Delhi has become my habit. A habit that has shaped me in ways I could have not imagined. A habit that has taught me things that I thought were beyond my capacity. A habit that has shown me things I otherwise would have left unseen. I don’t love Delhi, but I have a lot to thank Delhi for.

In Ghalib’s sense of reality, our capital, the heart of our country, is more than just a city. It is an emotion, a feeling, or an experience. Because it is not just a city, stepping into its realm is as overwhelming as it can be. Such is the power and influence of this place that its stories and perceptions are well embedded in one’s mind without even entering its abode. For a coming-of-age woman like me, one enters the city with light, wary steps, since the concerned directions of caution from those who love us echo louder than the cacophony of Delhi’s infamous vehicle horns. Over time, this city consumes you; no matter how long or short one stays here, it becomes a part of you, and you become a part of it. Delhi becomes synonymous with comfort; despite its notorious reputation of being unsafe, the city starts to feel like home, like a comfortable relationship that turns into your habit before you even realize it. The same dread and caution that once gripped you transitioned into a new sense of liberation. Before you even realize it, the city will have you enamored by its charm and romance.

Delhi, as a city, breathes romance and thrives on it. From the historic alleys of ancient monuments whose architectural marvels exude the romance between the architect and the art, to Ghalib’s verses on love that intuitively reverberate in one’s mind as they scale the galiyan of Purani Dilli, to the canteen of Hindu college where Rockstar’s Jordan met Heer for the first time, to the couples dispersed in the tulips-clad lawns of Lodhi Garden, to partners swaying in synchrony to the beats in a college fest, being huddled together holding hands on e-rickshaws in North Campus, to this very city being the birth place of the king of romance, we all grew up watching Shah Rukh Khan. For those not fortunate enough to find love in their college life, a sore pit is what Delhi digs in them. It did the same to me.

Fortunately, Delhi and my college life have taught me that romance isn’t bound by a singular definition or interpretation. The last three years spent here, on an all-girls campus in the south of the city, have revealed to me the myriad of ways one can show and experience love and romance, not just to others but to yourself as well. I have learned to romanticize the most mundane parts of my daily life here, and I have learned this from the best, Delhi. For me personally, at this point in time, it feels out of place to be in Delhi and to not beautify, glorify, or romanticize parts of my life. The will to get up well in time before the morning lecture, get dressed, don the quintessential DU outfit, with jhumkas, juttis, silver bangles, short kurtis, and off lately, a new edition, my clip-on nosepin. Grab a book to put in my tote; the read is usually something female-centric; it fits right considering the environment I have spent my last three years in. Post-class, if the sun is merciful, dillydallying in the lawns has been the unbeatable go-to; otherwise, coffee at Khan Market or GK M-Block for the win. On days when the wallet feels a little light, our college café’s cold coffee and the sev-puri stall behind the back gate do the deed.

Wearing sarees to college fests and events, learning to take and give compliments a little more freely, posing with reckless abandon on college lawns, taking endless photos of your female friends for them to choose one, and commenting profusely under the same photo they chose to post despite you being the one who spent hours selecting it, became the new normal after coming here. Honestly, leaving behind your home and coming to Delhi hasn’t been easy. This won’t be easy for most; not every day is going to be fun; most days it will be utterly normal, boring, and bland. But if you can ape Delhi well, romanticize stuff, and get going, you should be good to go. That’s how I enjoyed and survived the city!

Read Also: This is a Farewell, Not a Goodbye

Featured Image Credits: Nabeera Jamal for DU Beat

Rubani Sandhu

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