I can recall being asked if and why I liked Delhi. However much or little I like this place is probably for a variety of personal and insignificant reasons that just mount up to a weakness.
There's Mother Dairy here. I like that, and I'm amused by the difference in logos to tell apart one kind of Mother Dairy from the other: big blue drop and big green drop; blue for milk, and its products, and green -- ingeniously enough -- for veggies.
Simply brilliant, I think to myself while looking out of rattly windows of killer buses -- the Can't Be Helped parts of Delhi.
Mental checklist of buses and routes though, that deserve credit for sorting out my sense of direction-
The U specials: DTCs that covered any or all parts of Vasant Kunj, Purvanchal, Mehrauli and a now defunct Vinay Marg Special.
The God-awful Mudrikas -- plus and minus -- both, for either directions of the ring roads, causing much confusion in the first three days of college, that which was all the up way up in North Campus.
Bus routes numbered 621: ISBT connects South Delhi
764: Vasant Vihar to GK side,
100: CP-Campus madness.
And of course, my much preferred, routes 604, and 620 -- mostly for my love of all things in Connaught Place, even in the pre-metro era.
I like that when the weather is gorgeous like it has been recently, Delhi transforms. There are suddenly better songs on FM.
Maybe it's just rain induced optimism, or the spirit that comes with the benefit of youth, but where else are there these many university campuses, one being a second-home for nearing five years, and another that has as many rocks as there are possibilities for romance.
Delhi is memories of school-days coming to an end, and with it the trees around the Dhaula Kuan flyover. Off went the seasonal pink blooms.
Board exams gave way to summer heat and the unparalleled smell of cooler khus.
College. And with it, the advent of walky-talky like cell phones, and smooth-talking boys. Night conversations that carried on for hours, till first light, to when the cooler needed a refill.
Monsoons implied the inclusion and acceptability of floaters in dress codes. Newspapers would be steam-ironed on damp mornings to soak some of the moisture away.
The rains brought with them bhutta crackles. Toothpicks were employed to rid the residual bits stuck in contrasting teeth.
Car windscreens fogged up easily. The patter on roofs echoed louder and some nights the heat inside would be keen like the chowkidar's slumber.
Tuition classes were full of uproarious antics. The bonds made back then endure still. German classes in following summers remain assocated with bitter-smelling yellow fruit lying squashed underneath it's parent Neem.
Nelson Mandela road drives..breaking journey at the outdoor Cafe Coffee Day where the marble chips have become mucky. Shortcuts taken, via the The Grand that is no more with The Hyatt.
Gymkhana lunches, Sundays, and dust storms; swimming and jholas; kajal, literature and backpacks: all still a part of the factory look of 19-year olds. Jejune hip hop lyrics in carpools, and we as Fabindia's adopted children.
The days of overrated build-ups to concerts, Big Chill vices, and the liberties that being finally allowed to drive a car afforded. Parking lot attendants wearing sleeveless orange MCD jackets, presumptuously awaiting chai-paani fare even when it is free parking.
Khan Market, where people smell good when they past. Fresh memories of being adventurous in trying unfamiliar kathi rolls at 5 bucks a roll cheaper than the normal guy. Then being squirted with desi sauces as we learn our lesson to stick to the norm.
The associations and routines evolved; school to college, and from there to work. Steady progressions with undeniable constants of place. Memories stacked up, and continue to. Hopefully there is no loosing out, just pushing back; like those once new-age funky pencils with plastic nib holders and sharp leads that came forward on a rotation basis.
Childhood existed elsewhere, in beautiful places with simpler memories. But Delhi lent itself to impress and cement personalities. And just maybe, the place that hosted me from mid-teenage to early adulthood is a slightly harder habit to kick.