He hated being late to work. He hated the whole drill of rushing to the elevator, swearing when it stopped at each floor, hoping against hope the card-swipe machine would have a malfunctioning clock. In the Delhi Metro every day, he struggled with a million others to covet a seat and prevent himself from falling over at each station.
“Are you alright?”
He remembered asking a rather pale woman after accidentally stepping on her feet. Her eyes brimmed over, much to his intense humiliation. “I didn’t mean to Ma’am…” he started, but the woman was now on the phone, desperately apologizing to someone for being late.
At work, his colleagues stayed back late every evening, chit-chatting about the new pubs in Gurgaon. On his part, he grew frantic with every minute overtime, dreading the traffic that would pile up on the road. He found a broken down car en route home one evening. A man with yellow hair, standing on the middle of the road, had become the object of abuse for motorists. “My car, used to racing on the road, has barely MOVED uninterrupted on all these day trips to Gurgaon. How do you expect it to react?!” The yellow hair fluttered in the wind with fury.
All year long in 2014, he lost sleep obsessing over leaving home on time the next morning. His fiancée, who looked forward to chatting on the phone in the evenings, was usually disappointed because he felt too tired to talk. He endured the gloating faces of his colleagues who had dinner in office, thanks to their devotion to work.
Three weeks into the New Year, however, he saw light. Taking bag and baggage, he shifted base to Gurgaon. He was now the proud owner of a rented apartment in Delhi’s very own neighbhour and could cherish in peace the beauty of winter mornings in January. A floor below, the pale woman from the Metro and the man with yellow hair were also waking up to happier mornings.
* * *
For all the badmouthing that Delhi receives, there lies herein undying charm. Every Wednesday, find on Saddi Delhi a fresh story from life in the capital. Right from delicious food in Delhi’s alleyways to dreamy winters that paint the skies white.
For a tour through Delhi, from then and now, click here.