“So, here you are
I came across these words on my Facebook timeline that’s replete with the thoughts and flashy lives of my 1200-odd friends, most of whom I added after I moved to Delhi.
But the words stood out in the clutter because at this moment nothing seems to sum up my life better.
Having lived in a small town all my life, moving to Delhi – the national capital – was a big deal.
“Dilli waale barhe tez hai. Bach ke rehna.”
“Wahaan koi kisi ka apna nahi hota.”
“Delhi is not safe. Don’t be outside too late.”
My “well-wishers” had showered me with all kinds of advice, trying to make me ready for the big, bad city that I would soon call home.
The very mention of that word gives me a weird feeling nowadays. Once upon a time, the only place it reminded me of was my hometown. But today, I don’t really know what it means.
I was 22 when I first moved to Delhi. Old enough to know that the city wasn’t home, young enough to adjust to it anyway.
People here were different.
I felt different.
Every weekend after college, I would hop on a rickety Haryana Transport bus, even though I hated travelling in one, and go back to my happy place. My home. Chandigarh.
Going back to that sleepy, little town felt good.
It felt safe.
I could recognize the old streets where I used to hang out with my friends, the little thela where I had chai after bunking tuition, and the Bougainvillea trees that spread across the dustiest corners of my city.
Hell, even the autowaalas seemed familiar.
That was then. Five years ago.
Today, Delhi gives me that same feeling.
I recognize roads that I had no idea existed 3 years ago, the autowaalas near my place recognize me and I’ve even found a friend in the lanky, old fellow who is my society’s security guard.
When I take a Volvo back home today, I am filled with the same feelings that I relate my city to, but I don’t recognize the new eateries that seem to pop every time I return. The autowaalas always try to charge me more, thinking I’m an outsider, and I just can’t seem to find those familiar Bougainvillea trees anymore. Even the maid at my own house doesn’t recognize me.
I feel weird, I feel like I’m caught between two places and these days as I go to catch another bus during the weekend, I find myself wondering where home really is!