The Sharmas in Karol Bagh

Roshan Di Kulfi

It was a white, wintry day. Mr Sharma and his wife stood outside Roshan Di Kulfi – the old, Karol Bagh restaurant – waiting for a table. They looked enviously at a group of college children, busy eating with plates in their hands. There was a time when Mr Sharma too could eat while standing. He would come along to the restaurant with his wife, then girlfriend, and order two plates of papdi chaat. It had come as a pleasant surprise the first time they visited, the fact that the place also served food other than kulfi. Now, however, his hands shook too much. Worse still in Delhi’s biting winter.

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Thoughts of Winter

It’s official. Winter has arrived in Delhi. I declare winter to have set in when Granny brings out her warm clothes. And she has. Over the weekend, we also brought out the quilts and put them out for a sun bath in the terrace. Our youngest cat – he will experience his first winter this year – couldn’t for the life of him figure out what the warm, fuzzy things were doing sprawled all over his playground.

I love the onset of winter.  Continue reading

The Five People You Meet at the National Book Fair

National Book Fair

Five types of people, in case you were wondering. While I may lament the denigration of society in Delhi, the city still has loads of readers. A good number of them showed up in Pragati Maidan on Sunday. The National Book Fair, an annual event where the bigwigs of the book publishing world set up stalls, is on till August 31.

The Persuasive Dealer: “Pick any for Rs 100! Harry Potter, Dan Brown, 50 Shades of Grey, Mills & Boons…Errm, that’s just one yellow page Madam…” Wait longer and the fungus-eaten page may crumble even as you look. But, to be fair, this is quite the loot if you are looking for a cheap truckful of bestsellers, classics and children’s books. It’s just that I associate book fairs with rare, special books we can’t buy on Flipkart or off the street.

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Street Smart

The municipal corporation of Delhi has decided to restructure the residential colony I live in along the lines of the new government’s favorite brainchild – “smart cities”. They have decided that we cannot be smart till we have a stone-pavement, done up in red and mustard. Brimming with good intentions, they came with shovels one fine day and dug up all the dirt. There it stood afterwards, in one big pile, witness to the day’s hard work. Much later, arrived a bulldozer, and the pavement, that earlier housed cars and cats, was all in pieces. I came back from work aghast that day, a state of mind that was further worsened at the sight of the – well, site.

A host of people have proceeded to apprise me of their worries since then. “Where on earth do I park my car?” “Errm,” I start, “technically, the pavement is not supposed to be used for parking cars…” “Everyone does that! What do you know?” Indeed.

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5 Things That Irritate a Delhi-wallah The Most

1.  I am a Busy Man

The Delhi-wallah* is almost at the end of the exit queue at the Metro station. He is pleased he will finally be in time for work and has rosy images of crowing over everyone else at his appraisal due in September. His card is ready to be swiped and feet ready to run. And alas! The one person ahead of him messes up. The idiot doesn’t have enough balance in his card or is simply dumb enough to not realize he is holding up meetings much more important than the swearing-in of ministers. Looks haven’t killed, even at Hogwarts. But the Delhi-wallah still makes an attempt.

2. Me First!

In his glossy new car (which pinches his pocket with a small fortune of an EMI each month), the Delhi-wallah is feeling like the king of the world. He just screamed at three people in office; the new people had to be taught the ropes you see. He is contemplating bossing over his dog back at home, when lo and behold, a smaller, much dirtier car slinks ahead of him and disappears down the street. He has been beaten! He peers down the street and the things he wishes for the car-driver are not stated here, keeping in terms with censorship rules.

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An Erstwhile Delhi

Delhi Winter

*Picture from

Several years ago, mornings in Delhi were not as dusty as they are today. The sun would rise fresh from his night-time slumber; the birds would be out for a flight over the dewy grass. I would be busy gulping down the milk Granny made sure was mandatory for me before school. In the courtyard below, Granddad would be conversing with a morning stroller. He was an elderly Sardarji, his turban always bright blue and shirt always chequered. On Sundays, when I would be finishing my homework in time to watch the television classic Mahabharata, Granddad would come up the stairs, smiling from ear to ear. Sardarji, by now, would be well on his way home, his arms moving back and forth swiftly.

“What do you and Sardarji talk about, Dada?” I asked Granddad one Saturday. “Do you discuss politics?” Even back then, the country’s political nuances managed to find their way into all conversations.

Granddad guffawed. “Well, sometimes. But mostly we talk about more interesting things.”

“Such as?”

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P&P Comes to Delhi


Pune is going through an especially scorching and unusually early summer. The mercury has been soaring; the cold-drink vendors have been doing roaring trade. The sun is beating down on the city like never before and if not for the calendar, you wouldn’t believe April only started. It is this city of her many wonders that I left behind yesterday. Yes, all over again.

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Veteran Speak: The Delhi Metro

Now that my romance with the Delhi Metro has resumed, it is only noble that I share my learnings over the ages. It was summer last year when I would travel by the Metro throughout the week, arriving home each evening to the aroma of food and starlight. For who knows, there may be someone out there getting cold feet about boarding the train tomorrow morning. I can relate with you completely, my dear. The Delhi Metro can be unnerving at its very best, especially when you are out in the rush hours. Read on for some respite:

1. Never be late in accepting a seat if a generous soul happens to offer you the same. If you don’t, someone else will. If you don’t, you will end up swaying at every stop, falling on the people standing at a nose’s distance from you and come summer, take in all the body odour that the air conditioning can’t suppress.

2. Ensure your Metro Pass is in order. To be specific, ensure there’s enough money and that it is in condition good enough for the card reader to acknowledge. The people in the queue behind will show no mercy in bombarding you with menacing stares, squeals and threats to complain about your holding up the city.

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A Cinematic Thursday



That was all Granddad managed to say when I told him the movie had cost 350 INR per head. Popcorn, drinks and transport separate. This was last month,when we had gone to watch three witches unleash their magic on the silver screen. In a plush South Delhi theatre with a hundred other patrons alongside, that is indeed the sum you will have to dish out for a show. Insane? You bet. Especially when I have gotten used to the nice 80-a-flick at E Square, Pune. And in case you were turning up your noses in dreaded anticipation, that multiplex isn’t half bad.

Anyhow, the point is that amidst such drudgery, when you find tickets for 75 apiece, you gape. You plan weeks in advance for that charmed Thursday when PVR Saket gives away ‘Any Movie, Any Show’ tickets for 75 – about the price of a single scoop Baskin Robbins, last time I checked.

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A Capital Ride

Delhi Metro

*picture from

She reads a few pages of ‘The Sunset Club’ every morning. The twilight cover of the book stands in contrast to the bright morning light coming in from the window, as the train chugs along the rather monotonous Gurgaon route. Each time the train halts at a station, her book flips several pages. Mentally, she curses the number of people the capital has. And, occasionally, also the passenger who cannot stand without treading on her newly bought shoes.

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