Delhi- the capital of India, a city which was destroyed seven times but rose from its ashes like a phoenix and emerged stronger each time, a place where people belonging to different castes and communities can be seen together, and most importantly, probably one of those few places on this planet where you may bump into your next door neighbour on the street and then stay awake all night, trying to figure out why that guy’s face looked so familiar.
Dilli dilwalon ka shaher hai (Delhi is a place of large hearted people) is what I had often heard about the Capital. Obviously, there was a sense of excitement and anticipation when I got a chance to come to Delhi and pursue higher studies.
I still remember the day when I first came to the city with the goal of realizing my dream of making it big in this metropolitan. Sitting on the window seat of a bus and wondering what lay in store for me, my daydreams were disturbed by the person sitting beside me.
“Today is my last day in this horrible city. I have got myself transferred to Bangalore and will not even try to come here ever again”, he said.
What is wrong with this fellow, I asked myself. He must be one of those who crib about everything in life, I thought.
As I got down from the bus, I got a taste of what lay in store ahead. There was a crowd gathered just across the street and out of curiosity, I went to check out what was happening. I saw two people holding each other by the collar and hurling abuses, apparently because the car of one had brushed against the other’s in the heavy traffic.
My first encounter with ‘real’ Delhi came when I decided to take a stroll through some of the busy streets of old Delhi one evening. As I tried to manoeuver my way through the by-lanes packed with men, machines and animals, I saw something that sent shivers down my spine. There was a human corpse lying on the footpath right in front of me, but people were walking past as if nothing had happened and nobody seemed to care.
Was this the ‘actual’ Delhi that people referred to as the land of the large hearted?
A few years passed and I came across some more events that made me indifferent to such things. One day, while traveling in a blueline bus, I saw the conductor misbehave and beat up an old man just because he had purchased a 5 rupee ticket and had not left the bus even after his limit ended. But instead of trying to help the person, I chose to stay quiet, like all the other passengers in the bus. That was very unlike me. What was happening to me, I thought.
That’s when an inner voice told me that I had become a true Dilliwala!