I have probably never written anything serious on my blog (I just checked the archives. Never). But I had to write this today, to remove that lump in my throat, that just refuses to go ever since my Diwali vacation in Delhi.
I stopped participating in debates about cities. Everyone loves the city they grew up in, because that city moulded you into what you are. And so when someone says something about Delhi, I just swallow my pride and ignore, despite the urge to retort about infrastructure (That's what most of Delhites do. Mumbai Local - Delhi Infrastructure. Bangalore weather - Delhi infrastructure. Hyderabad cost of living - Delhi infrastructure)
But you know what, I love Delhi. I really do, with all my heart. And now that my parents will move out of Delhi in a few months, it means severing ties with the only city I know as home. This Diwali I spent most of my time in Delhi like a zombie, melting away into nostalgia at every nook and cranny of the city.
Nehru Park where I had my first outing away from home - class picnic. The grass hill on which all of us five year olds rolled down one by one.
Sarojini Nagar where a precious Saturday evening would be spent haggling over clothes and sweaters. I remember hating going there, because that would mean missing the highly competitive evening game of Pitthu in the colony.
That bakery in RK Puram. Our first taste of pizza (Lets say Lookalike. He used Paneer instead of Mozerella).
Catching the DTC bus to go to East Delhi to visit relatives. Taking the wrong side bus from CP and ending up in ISBT. Buses were a fairly common mode of transport for us. And quite safe too.
The numerous trips to India Gate and Qutb Minar to entertain visiting guests.
The chat in Green Park.
Those parts of the city which we visited only when one of us kids had an Examination centre there. Spent hours and hours in Rajinder Nagar when my sister was preparing for her IIT exam.
Joining an Engineering college in the other end of the city and exploring the other side of Delhi for the first time. 764. The notorious bus route to Najafgarh. A whole new, loud boisterous world discovered in the Rajouri Gardens, Tilak Gardens and Janakpuris. So far removed from where we stayed.
The entry of Metro in our lives. The first metro ride, with the unmissable Hanuman Statue in Karol bagh. Back then, 80% of riders were joy-riders. The increasing presence of CP in our lives thanks to Rajiv Chowk metro junction.
The sigh every time we crossed Shanti Path and the inevitable "how can anyone compare this to other cities" question.
Lodhi Road. I compare the best road in every city with Lodhi Road. Cubbon Park in Bangalore. Fort in Mumbai. ORR in Hyderabad.
The cosyness of winters, the harshness of summers. And March. I don't even have words to describe March in Delhi. Its brings a spring in the step, like no place else.
I love Delhi, because this city made me. I don't know any other way of living, other than as a Delhite. The humility from staying in Government Quarters, the need to be the centre of attention just like the Capital city, the perseverance to reach the destination no matter what like the crowded bus journeys, the colorful nature of the city's bazaars, the respect for an absolutely, gorgeous rich heritage.
I moved to Mumbai after spending 25 years in Delhi. Needless to say, I hated it. Then I moved to Bangalore last year. With an increasing sense of guilt, I accepted that Bangalore is nice. And then this Diwali trip happened.
I write this with such a heavy heart, I can't tell you. To think I will not go to Delhi every long weekend. That I won't wait for winter every year. That I won't celebrate the Dilli wali Diwali again. It's killing me.
I know friends who have moved cities every two years. That must have been fun. But staying in the same city for 25 years is another kind of fun - the kind that makes you fall in sync with the rhythm of the place. The kind that makes your ears stand up every time someone says "I'm from Delhi". The kind that gets you into blind arguments with others. The kind that makes you cry when you leave it. The kind that makes you kiss the aircraft window when you see it approaching. The kind that makes you write posts like these.
Its a different kind of fun. And I'll miss it so much.
Cheers to Delhi!