Oh Delhi!


Outside Shiv Mandir in Chittaranjan Park, New Delhi

I travel to Delhi tomorrow. After almost eight months of living away from the madness. And while I can’t claim Pune has been particularly sane, I have been away from the morning Metro rush, the honking cars outside my house, and the slight chill in the air that starts coming in this time of the year. But madness, really? This evening, randomly, I realize I have actually missed it all!

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In a Delhi home this evening, there’s a girl debating whether or not to open the door which has been knocked upon for the zillionth time in a week. In the constant flurry of people – helpful neighbours, laundry-delivery, flower-men, decorators – she takes a moment to breathe and document the madness. Getting married is a marathon task.

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The Unusual Suspect

She should have sensed there was danger the moment the door creaked, but the winter afternoon was deceiving in its temperament.

He inched closer from behind, while she pored over her book, oblivious to the danger that lurked in her household in Delhi – the city her parents had warned her against.

He had no motive but cold blood, and sneered as he clasped the weapon, silently picked up from her kitchen, tightly in his palm.

Though horror-struck, she could not scream; the weapon was effective, painful and shock-inducing.

The wall, painted fresh an hour ago, now sported a large blob of tomato ketchup, emptied carefully from a sachet.

Her five-year old son had feet as sure and silent as a cat.

*              *              *

Five Sentence Fiction

Five Sentence Fiction is about packing a powerful punch in a tiny fist. Each week, Lillie McFerrin posts a one word inspiration, then anyone wishing to participate can write a five sentence story based on the prompt word. The word does not have to appear in the five sentences, and is just for direction. This week: FRESH.

Now every Friday on Saddi Delhi.

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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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 distractedguy.wordpress.com

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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