City Life – Defence Colony Dreams
Living a Happy India life in South Delhi.
[Pictures and text by Mayank Austen Soofi]
My address has changed. I’m now the Shah of the Jahan, the king of the world. I’ve moved from the wrong side of the Yamuna to the right side. From Lower East Side to the heart of upper crust Delhi. Such a long journey: from Anand Vihar to Defence Colony.
Def Col. The culmination of my dreams. So many times have I wistfully glanced at it from my Blueline window as the 543 would rumble down the smoggy Ring Road. Would the day ever come when I would live here? Nahi, how could that be possible?
There are only three Def Col types:
a) Your pa is rich, rich, rich
b) You have become a cricket star-turned-soft-drink-endorser
c) You are an expat from a shiny white land
I am none of these. But I was muqaddar ka sikandar. An expat friend living in C block had to urgently go ‘back home’ to US for a month and she requested, “I don’t want to leave the house all abandoned. Can you please stay here?” (Jackpot!) “Er, yes, let me think about it. I suppose I could. That’s what friends are for.” (Excitement contained.)
Scene I: Defence Colony bungalow. Time: 6 am. My first day here. I’m alone in this big house. Each room has its own remote-controlled air-conditioner (there are six rooms). Imported books line the walls. Walls decked with paintings purchased from Paris, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco and Dilli Haat (Madhubani, of course). Recent issues of Vanity Fair in the magazine rack; Puccini and Britten fill up the CD rack. Proper shower curtain in the bathroom and white thick soft towels (bilkul 5-star hotel type) hanging behind the door. What luxury, yaara!
Now, follow me to the kitchen (I’m feeling like Laura Bush conducting a televised White House tour). Open the bumper-sized Samsung refrigerator. It’s all Khan Market and INA inside: Dijon mustard (from France), Remia French salad dressing (from Holland), Pollis Olive Denocciolate (from Italy), DAK chopped ham (from Denmark) leeks, asparagus.
To add to these first-world luxuries, there’s an English-speaking maid from Jharkhand who cooks everything from hummus to Thai green curry. Last night, she made pasta with cherry tomatoes and arugulas. (“Sir, please tell me what are you liking for tomorrow?”)
Scene II: Outside in Defence Colony. Time: 6.30 am. Taking a walk. Ignoring barking dogs, security guards and construction labourers. Concentrating on the white bare arms of expat memsahibs as they lean on their bungalow balconies. So relaxed, so content.
It’s true. People of south Delhi are happier than other Delhiwallas. Their trees are greener, their birds chirpier, their sky bluer, their air cleaner, their cars fancier. Theirs is a better world. I’m jealous.
Scene III: Bathroom. Time: 7 am. I fill the bathtub with warm water, take off my clothes and slowly step in. Ooh la la, this bathtub business is so relaxing. I close my eyes and breathe deeply. Yuck, I see my friend. She would return next month and I would have to leave for Anand Vihar. Then it will be back to bucket bath.
Ignore the ‘servant class’
…And their children too
Laying foundation for one more dream
Not all welcome in the club