Capital View – The Best of Delhi

The Delhi walla‘s pretension in writing makes me want to lodge a bullet in his balls – Blogger Nimpipi, the woodchuck chucks
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Window Shopping

What do ex-Delhi wallas miss about the city.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

I love Delhi. Imagine my distress when I met Craig and Tracy, my American friends who have been living in the Capital for two years, and now in the process of relocating to London. Craig said he is ecstatic at the thought of getting rid of Delhi.

He was too frank.

Tracy nudged him softly and Craig changed his tone, changed his expressions and said with a click of tongue that they would miss the friends they made here.

I suspected he was not being frank and so I set about asking other Delhi friends who have gone abroad as to what they miss about this city.

Patrick McNiel (lived in Delhi for 3 years, now in Chicago): I miss saying hello to the barber who set up shop outside my apartment near Mandi House. I miss having clothing altered for $1. I miss the kebabs. I miss driving down the Raj Path toward the Rashtrapati Bhawan.I miss being treated like any other rider of DTC buses and Delhi Metro. I miss the chikoos. I miss shopping in Bengali Market. I miss swimming outside year round. I miss that feeling of accomplishing something big by accomplishing something little. I miss the fact that I actually enjoyed living in Central Delhi rather than South Delhi.

Harsha Khare (A Delhiwalla who now lives in London): I miss the servants.

Sarah Hine (lived in Delhi for 11 months and now back in NYC): I’m somewhat ashamed to admit it but I miss being treated well. I’m ashamed to admit this because I think this royal treatment comes, at least partly, as a result of my white skin. As I fumbled for proper change in Grand Central Station in New York City (seriously, I don’t recognize nickels and dimes as quickly as I used to), I sensed the cashier’s impatience. I realized that most businesses I patronized in Delhi were extremely patient with me whereas here, I’m just another American.

Daniela Schwarz (lived here for 1 year, now in Germany): I miss the abuses that ring in your ear wherever you go in Delhi, and the opportunity to hurl just about anything back at anyone without them cocking an eyebrow. I’d probably not miss the trail of fans that follows me everywhere, especially the scrubby male ones asking for dates. And above all I’d miss the ingenious ways Delhiites have to block any effort the Delhi Metro makes to teach them how to stand in line.

Padmini Vaidhyanathan (lived for 23 years in Delhi, now studying in New York): I miss having no rights as a pedestrian.

Anonymous (this friend doesn’t want to be named; she lives in US): I miss the songs on the radio reflecting my mood even as I don’t understand them. I miss the bad art that sells for crores. I miss giving people a kiss on each cheek. I miss all the awful techno and snooty clubs.

Craig (he got frank with me, again): I will miss the monuments and also monuments and then I will miss the monuments some more and yes of course there are monuments and monuments too and beside the monuments I will also miss the monuments and of course, the monuments too.