The first thing I remember about Delhi is a strong pungent smell. The smell of rotting litter strewn on the railway tracks and the food that was cooking in small stalls just outside the railway junction – are sadly the smells I now associate with my introduction and my welcome to the capital of the country. I had chosen to move to Delhi, or perhaps Delhi had chosen me and I was aware that relocation meant a whole new as yet unexplored world. And yet I still had not expected it to be this… dirty at first sight.
I arrived to pursue higher studies and obtain a Masters degree and now the city was to be my home for the next two years. And to say I was prepared to tackle what came next (or TBF that any young adult in a new city ever truly is) couldn’t be further from the truth.
Listing in no particular order are the top 11 things I wasn’t prepared for:
- The Noise: City folks, don’t roll your eye and say, ‘what did you expect’. I did expect it to be noisier but I didn’t expect to not be able to sleep at night for the first month. Despite all the pep talks I’d been given, I was still not prepared to hear honking in my neighbourhood in the middle of the night.
- No Filter: Brought up in a household where even kids were addressed as “aap”, the cuss words thrown casually into any and every conversation left me somewhat reeling. In my initial days, when an auto-rickshaw wala screamed abuses at beggars for not letting him cross traffic light while he could have, is a tale I’m not likely to tell my kids one day.
- Can Help But Won’t Help: Guys, what’s up with this though? What’s the hesitation in coming forward instead of passively watching from the sidelines, despite being in the vicinity of someone who clearly needs help?
- The Landlord Mafia: Landlords can be a real pain in your arse. They change the rent on their whims and fancies, interfere with your daily routine, question, object and judge you repeatedly and don’t stop at being wonderfully rude to you.
- The Traffic: Traffic is always terrible, but heaven forbid that it rains. 10 minutes of rain can cause hour long jams in Delhi. How guys? HOW?
- Super Expensive Night Life: People have a huge craze for going out partying on the weekends. Trust me there are places like Satyaniketan, Malviya Nagar, etc where you can party within a budget instead of spending half your earnings in a fancy cafe in Connaught Place and Hauz Khas Village.
- The Pollution: I was coughing for three months straight when I first moved to town and I wasn’t sure how to make it stop. My doctor actually told me to go back home because months of cough syrups and antibiotics had failed to make my lungs compatible for the city’s choked chambers.
- 8. The Street Food: Immunity is what you need if you wish to enjoy the chatpati chat markets and the momos and the rolls and the chowmein. But if your stomach can deal with it, the street food really is
- 9.The Architecture: Delhi is a culturally rich city and at every other nook and corner you would find a tomb or a mausoleum or a fort. So many places to click photographs in, and so many places to make out in the open. #SorryNotSorry
10. The Metro: No matter what happens, you have to admit that this city would have been a million times more difficult to navigate had the metro not been there. At first, I was hesitant, got confused and ended up on the wrong trains a little too often, but in the end, the metro grows on you.
11. The Heat: I do agree that global warming has made things worse but the unending summer put a damper on my mood. I was quite unsure of how to handle it at first. But fortunately, the city doesn’t come with the humidity that Mumbaikars are cursed with.
My relationship with the city and its kind souls continues to be a major ‘love-hate’ relationship, but the city has indeed grown on me and will grow on you too if you give it a chance.
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