13.7.17

The Beginning of a Very Delhi Monsoon

I was witness to a Delhi today that was so different from the usual. It wasn't the burning heat that people curse, it wasn't the bitter cold of December in which natives such unreasonable pride.

It was overcast - the way overcast truly is - an eclipse in broad daylight. The rain drenched everything without boring little holes or lashing the glass panes. It came down sieved through the thick foliage thanks to the trees that line the avenues of Lutyen's vision, which one drove past. It seemed to wait until I got securely into my cab before coming down inevitably, yet never relentlessly, or ruthlessly.

I have always admired the manicured hedges and lawns of the national capital - its well-placed trees and shrubs, and its shower-cleaned-everyday leaves that reveal pure shades of green no matter how scorching the heat, no matter how polluted the air.

I spotted monkeys by the road along the ridge (the real red bummed kinds)! And I thought of my friend from the time we were at undergrad university (though not in the same course, university or even city!), Sajani.

I could fall in love here. Against this setting. Despite the gossipy tweenagers killing time and their closest friends' trust, despite the chooda clanking new bride in hot shorts, almost-South African blonde streaked hair fashionably held together in a messy top bun with Moroccan oiled strays carefully teased out to frame her face (moles surgically removed just before the big day), despite gaping aghast at the sheer entitlement with which men don't even consider the idea of being chivalrous... No no, this trip was not about people at all.

Delhi is actually better suited for recluses than how pseudo Bombay has proven to be so far. It allows you a little bit of open sky and some space to walk outside without being thronged by street vendors to submit to the moat carnal capitalistic need, that is to buy.

Delhi is about space. Space to breathe, space to catch some expanse in one's line of vision, space to  make informed decisions and continue to walk the middle path, space to walk for heaven's sake.

Delhi's middle class has no malice, its poor do not aspire to be rich, its immigrants are not scorned upon for taking away local jobs - see you keep veering me to people, Bombay! Stop it! This is not about people. Your people are finer, happy?

But there is simplicity in people's eyes, in their skin, in their at-least-slightly-imperfect body shapes. There are monkeys by the road! And they coexist with more beastly people. Those monkeys don't need some 100 acre plot in the name of a National Park as an excuse to nurture nefarious activities.

Believers walk all the way up to Gomukh to collect a couple of mud pot fulls of Ganga jal that would be poured over the phallic stone signifying the Vishnu disciple, Lord Shankara, since Saawan is His month (according to the Hindu Vikram calendar).

It brought to mind the several pedestrians one spotted en route to Prabhadevi's Siddhivinayak temple on the odd late Monday night. They think that should do the trick, whatever trick they set out to wield. Then they complain to the elephant God. The only difference, and god, Bombay, will you stop reminding me constantly of - yes, the people?

This piece was written a year ago on a day's "work" visit to Delhi. The day marked the beginning of monsoon (29 July 2016). I was there to meet my then Editor in Chief of a couple of months. Ironically, I post this piece only now, when I'm on a work visit to Bombay (not a moment to look up or breathe) as the rains make their presence felt. I promise I had not a clue the tables would turn so drastically about my city of residence in less than a year!

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