October 01, 2007

Dear Delhi

You know, there’s this thing Delhi and Bombay have about each other. People from either burg take great delight in sniping at the other. And when His Editorness asked me to write a Capital Letter, methinks the man was hoping I’d write a Delhi Sucks piece and earn some hate mail to put some spark into his life. But I won’t. Why make a Delhiwalla happy?
Oh darn. That truce didn’t last long, did it?
Ah well, at least it’s out of the way. And I can confess that I’m actually rather fond of old Smogville-on-the-Yamuna. The bits of it that I have seen that is.
Yeah, your city is so darn large. Bombay may stretch interminably northwards, but, because of its geographical constraints, it is a slim city, seen from a plane. Delhi sprawls outwards in every direction, horizon to horizon, a giant amoeba that seems to be gobbling up, nay assimilating, UP, Haryana, burping, taking a wee nap and then looking speculatively at Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal.
Sorry, carried away, wasn’t I?
Like I was saying, I haven’t seen vast swathes of the city. On my first visit, as part of a dance troupe—yes, honey, that was a long time ago, stop prodding my paunch—we were give an off-day from rehearsals and taken off on a lightning tour of the city, herded from monument to monument, with, every little while, getting Rashtrapati Bhavan pointed out to us without ever seeming to get any closer to it, leaving me with a deeply ingrained feeling that everyone went around in circles here and I’d never be able to find my way around, ever.
That feeling of disorientation has never quite gone away, though over subsequent sojourns one has acquired a slightly better idea of the geography. Heck, I have even, quaking in my flip-flops, sweaty-palmed, driven around the city. Bombay’s traffic is merely a perpetual traffic jam, and once you come to terms with that, it’s all part of the routine. Delhi’s drivers, aided by Delhi’s lovely roads, are in a league of their own for sheer fershlugging bloody-minded lunacy. But of that, much has been written, so one shall swiftly move on to.. No, wait. Those roads. Can we have some of them, please? Just a wee bit of the Ring Road? You’re hardly going to miss it.
And while we’re swapping, I’d like to get some of those majestic buildings, those parks, that feeling of space (I have slept in Bombay bedrooms smaller than the bathrooms in most Delhi houses). Oh yes, and a wee bit of your winter, preferably with a few of those foggy days you folks do so well. You can keep your summer, though. We’ll trade you some of our monsoon. But perhaps not. I don’t think you chaps really know how to deal with rain: I saw rickshaws pulled over to the roadside, hazard lights flashing on every car during a piddling half-hour shower the other day.
We—and I speak now for the rest of the country too—would also like some of the sporting action (and stadia), and the buzzing literary scene you have going.
No? Selfish sods, you lot.
I’ll just have to come back now, won’t I?

Published in Outlook City Limits, Delhi, October 2007, in a section called Capital Letters.

2 comments:

Scribbler said...

lovely one... any more of these sort?

zigzackly said...

Aditya,
Thank you. You may like this.