I spent my growing up years in
than half my life. I went to school
and college there and worked for one year before getting
married and moving to the Dooars. Yet when I go
there I don’t know the city as well as I should know my home town. It
doesn't seem as if I understand the layout of the city at all.
That changes – or it seems to - every few months. There are new buildings
everywhere. New flyovers come up, necessitating new intersections, U-turns
and approach roads.
And then there is the Delhi Metro that has sliced up the city. Some roads, intersections and even buildings have vanished. Still, it is something I admire. I love seeing the stations, the escalators, and the trains arriving every two minutes.
people are making good use of the Metro service. It is the one thing that
has helped me to feel a little independent when I’m there. It's freed
commuters from hours spent in traffic which never seems to move, and from
bargaining with auto drivers or paying criminal amounts to hire cabs. I was
always comfortable in the Ladies' Compartment, right up at the front of
the train. I revelled in the Arctic air-conditioning of the train
itself. A Metro Rail Card freed me from long queues at the ticket counter.
I could go to places like Dilli Haat, the sprawling crafts bazaar,
directly by Metro. I could make meeting points with friends or with my brother
who would always have a car waiting to pick me up at a Metro station
in the less crowded parts of Delhi.
The overhead Metro line is a bit of an eyesore, though. It's sad to see it going past my old college. One can’t see that lovely building from the road any more.
'Running house' (my daughter’s flat) was great fun in
I enjoyed having the kitchen all to myself. Oh the audacity of being
able to go out and buy what I wanted only when I needed it! No
stocking up on potatoes, onions, oil, eggs or sugar for fear of being
caught up short. Here on the garden the bawarchi and I buy stuff as if we're
preparing for a siege. His lists look like detailed horoscope charts, long
and scroll like as they are.
For many years, my husband and I longed set up house and live in
thought it would be so romantic. Madness? Not
really, because the Delhi
we remembered from childhood was quite another city; it stopped in
the eighties. We longed for a life free of all the complications or
'jhamela' of living in a tea garden. What little grass grows there in Delhi
always seems greener to us.
(Published in The Camellia magazine)