I’d wanted to go to Delhi all my life, however thanks to the frightening things I’d read about that city in the newspapers coupled with the fact that I barely spoke a dozen words of Hindi, I didn’t even attempt to step over the confines of the South and simply sat around feeling hugely envious of all who travelled to that fabulous and frightening city. Then Suhas went off to Delhi and excitedly spoke about the place in lengthy conversations on the phone. Every now and then there would be an enticing picture on Facebook and then one day he said the magic words, ‘Book a ticket and come off!’ I didn’t waste any time.
I have to pause this blog post for a mo to say this: In Suhas I am blessed to have had the best host ever. He took such good care of me. He took me everywhere, never ever left my side, always made sure I was all right, always helpful (‘let me carry your jacket’), always enthusiastic, polite, patient and fun. I barely had to ask him for anything. It was all thought out and offered already. As in Benglur, he knew the best places for everything. And to add to his extensive list of virtues, every morning he would cook this absolutely hot, healthy, nutritious and delicious South Indian hot rice breakfast to sustain us through the day. If there was some gold medal for best host, I’d recommend him at once. He was amazing.
This sign was made by Suhas to be held up in the airport on my arrival :-)
I am not going to fill this post with pictures of the magnificent Delhi monuments. No picture will do justice to the emotions they evoke. Instead, here are some glimpses of my visit and pages from my now packed sketchbook. After this visit, the name Delhi which once evoked awe and fear, brings instead a lot of happy memories and a sense of wonder at the riches my country offers to those who search for it.
Big fat beautiful seed pod from a bird filled tree across Suhas's terrace.
Everything is Delhi is bigger, better and more beautiful.
Park at Haus Khaz village
Vintage tile picked up from a shop at Hauz Khas :-)
My first Tibetan meal and best ever gargantuan feast at Yeti
Skech and photo from Safdarjung's tomb
Sketch from Lodhi Gardens above and Moong dhal dumplings in a delicious green chilli sauce
with radishes, below.
The 'In your face' Old Delhi. Thankfully I went on Republic day when it was fairly empty. Even then its aggression and soul-killing poverty left me shaken.
Nan Khatai biscuit vendor. The biscuits were warm and tasty.
Below - Qutub Minar!
The picture below is my favourite. This man must be from somewhere in Central Asia, looking at his turban. I think he is from Uzbekistan or Samarkand. He belongs there under that beautiful arch like he's lived there all his life.
The gorgeous ruins of Mehrauli Archeological park.
We explored through dozens of ruined and hidden passages and doorways...
and walked through the mind-blowing construction of this Step Well
A small sketch above of the beautiful structure below.
And lunch at the funky Mamagoto afterwards at Select Citywalk, a complete contrast :-)
We spent hours at the lovely CMYK Mehar Chand Market
So many other memories jotted down below. Sketchbooking certainly helps in processing the blur of memories into something tangible within pages.
In a crowded Metro (pronounced Matt-ro) ride, I made my way towards an empty seat and hesitated when I saw a kerchief placed there. Suddenly a voice behind me said, Madam, ye hamara seat hai! (Madam, this is my seat!). I moved away. Later, when the Metro stopped, I got a forceful whack on my shoulder. Surprised I turned around to see two rugged Delhi men excitedly beckoning me towards the now empty seat, Madam! Baito idhar se! (Madam, sit here!)
In Benglur's Meru taxi, a polite recorded voice in a nice English accent welcomes you when you get in with, 'Welcome to Meru Taxi Service...' When I got into the Meru Cab in Delhi to get back to the airport, a loud high-pitched voice said, 'Velkum to the Hunee Bunee ride...' and then in a high decibel it sang, 'Hunee Bunee, Hunee Bunee, Hunee Buneeeeee....'
When I think of the art and architecture left for us by successive Mughal dynasties, I marvel at their vision, their sophistication and their culture. Their art does what art is truly meant to do to our minds – it elevates, it helps us transcend the mundane. Their art is indeed human spirit at its best - it has touched the divine. I am grateful to have been allowed in this lifetime, to catch a glimpse of this in the complex and beautiful city of Delhi.