Delhi is the city I grew up in, so a holiday break here after years of staying away was something to look forward to. The first thing we encountered early morning was a thick layer of fog. The train as many others on that route got delayed by three hours, which is common.
Delhi is also known as a city of thugs. The average delhite or “dilliwala” as they are known, has learnt to live with this reality among other disadvantages. So, the porter thug asked for only Rs 100 to carry a bag till the exit, which was best refused. Next challenge was to reach my destination. Had it been Mumbai, there would be no concern to travel and the amount would be resonable, but in Delhi even that is a challenge. More so, as a crowd of protesters in the central India gate area had given the police the chance to close all arterial roads around, so we took some peripary road and after some permutations and combinations reached after a couple of hours. The only other hold up was the crossing of the mayor or one of the other many govt officials, with a cavalcade and a beeping red light on top of the car, that delhietes have began to dread. These hold ups generally last around 15 to 20 min. The higher the hierarchy, the longer the hold up and the more the traffic piles up.
We finaly move on. All around is like a blanket of dust and dirt. Whether the buildings or the flyovers or the hoardings. It sometimes feels that you are looking through a screen of smoke. The cars have quadrupled over last decade, with the typical “delliwala” nonchalant attitude, of couldnt-care -less about the city as far as the luxury sedan was comfy inside.
The mind drifts back to Goa, no one seems to be in a hurry, everyone is warm and courteous to each other. The sky is actually blue and not smoky. The trees are green and fresh. Then I remember also the vivid image of a kindergarten techer sweeping off hay from the stage, where we practiced for a nursery play. And wonder how many people living in the so called cities find it below thier dignity to hold and use a broom in public. Ofcourse, Goa is not India, its someplace else.
Delhi also has a great number of consumers with GDP figures to envy the rest of the country. One visit to the group of malls at vasant kunj is enough to get a glimpse of the buying behaviour. There are three malls here arranged in order of thier affordability. The premium mall has an entry fee to keep away windowshoppers. Thats where you can get your LVs, Dior and other global brands.
All in all, it a culture I cant identify with anylonger. Delhi has transformed into this giant mass of unknown faces, each wanting to outdo the other, pushing, elbowing, treading on others spaces and encroaching on whatever is possible. It lacks the beauty of a city, the culture of a civilisation and human concern, which is so basic to existence. It makes up by being a center of power, authority and decision making being a capital city, but sadly nothing more looks attractive.