Sunday, September 13, 2009

At home, in Dahli

When we moved to Delhi in 2000, (April 6th), I was 15 years old and trying to not be homesick. I had spent the previous few years in the Nilgiris and I missed my life there. I missed good weather, I missed home, I missed those pine trees. Desert coolers were new to me. Living in a flat was new to me. I missed the bungalow with the long driveway. I missed dogs being free to roam the streets without a leash. I missed the bakery where a bun cost 4 bucks. I missed my friends. I missed language and I yearned for good grammar! Delhi was hot and people were crass. Being funny was proportional to how many abuses you knew. If it wasn't 'fuck dude' or 'revert back', it was teri maa ki.

All in all, a bit of a culture shock. For Delhi to start feeling like home, it took me time. It took college. It took making friends and being allowed night stays. It took learning how to drive, and driving on those roads listening to Himesh Reshammaiya on radio. It took making boyfriends, and having some mad times. It took wearing clothes bought from Sarojini Nagar and GK2. It took reading better newspapers, finding a favourite and subscribing to a stable routine. It took getting familiar with a different, if not better life, to really start appreciating the place.

This week, I spent a few days at my grandparent's place, also in Delhi. That is the house I lived in for 8 years from when we first came to the city. So for the few hundred thousand memories associated, that white corner building next to a gully is home to me.

Home, where I live with my parents and type this from, is in Jat land, separate and 25 kilometres away. At my parent's home -- "my home" -- I have a nicer room, bigger windows, a study table with a lamp. Pigeons shit on the air conditioner and there is a book shelf that is mine, all mine. By any yard stick, this home, the pigeon shitty one, is a prettier home. That home, the white bricky one where I know the light and fan switches by heart, is my yesterday home, my when-I-was-j-ust-a-li-ttle-girl home.

But now and then, I live a nomadic lifestyle -- sometimes that house, sometimes this house, 4 days here, one week there. And my poor Maruti car, with the homeless crap in it and one shoe missing, looks like a dhobighat on wheels. My closer friends, when they ring me, and depending on the clarity of the line, will raise doubts about my whereabouts: Are You in Gurgaon or Vasant Vihar?

I am in both, I feel like shouting senselessly. And I am happy that I can make the switch easily. I sleep well in both houses. I have to change my schedule a little for both, like how late I stay out at night, and what time I leave for office, but it's an easy switch. Like the tiny behaviour adjustments that are necessary at different times with different people. Army brats are blest with the ability to adapt well. I used to think having no roots in one place is the trade off for being such successful chameleons, but like you have to tell hypochondriacs, it's all in the mind. It doesn’t matter. And eventually, Delhi or not, home is where the parking lot is. And if they keep dinner, then you know you’ve reached.

9 comments:

cathatfished said...

i loved this one :)

"revert back" haha.. also "building's backside"

i miss Delhi heat. much as i missed W'ton, i miss Delhi now too. but the last line holds true whichever continent you are on. many homes in many places.

Mudit said...

The most commonly used in Delhi has to be 'pencho'(sounds like dis). I mean you take a metro from North Campus and the moment Chawri Bazaar comes you start seeing the penchos flying around, courtesy all sardarjis getting in.

Yeah Delhi! Delhi! a second home to me too(sigh!)

Miss the winters a lot(sob)

Nostalgia(Boohuhu)

Anonymous said...

My God! Your writing consistently rocks! Get the book out quick, can't wait.

Nimpipi said...

catty cat: Hahaha, yea buildng's backside is true. And 'spawnge' cake. And music kaesett:P Not sure how Dilli specific it all is, afterall we've heard droff for dwarf in w'ton.

But Amen to home being anywhere.

Mudit: Pencho is definitely as Delhi as it gets; chawri bazaar or Def Col.

Anon: I don't knwo who you are, but for the ego massage, thank you!:)

Inayat said...

Yhuss..book is going to be unadulateraed nimpipiness. And my gps live in VV too..joincidence?

The Mystic said...

Hey!Its me again! no drumroll?? :P
I know what you mean, I too live in the heart of another jat land quit close to vasant vihar... Home is where the heart is, I shifted here after practically going from prep to 12th in my old home and even though it was small and cramped, I still loved it, this feels like a whole new world to me and a I feel so different as if I lived in that house in some other long forgotten life.
Happy Diwali in case I don't get time to read your blog soon!!!
-Ishaan

Nimpipi said...

Woman, Inayat: Come, we shall meet at pdiya and discuss life.

Ishaan: Helloo helloo. Happy Diwali to you too. Home is where the jats are, yes:D

The Mystic said...

I am back before Diwali!! Yep true Home is where the jats leave cows on the highway!! DodgeCow 2.0 :D

a n k | t said...

aaawww... what happened to "GANDU" we (me n my frens) use to use it all the time....

miss those gandu days... :]