Delhi, oh my Delhi, you're hated with passion and loved with vengeance.
To me you've been an old and wise friend, Delhi.
You taught me to walk and then tripped me, your mocking laughter unnerving me!
But then you picked me up, dusted my clothes and bid me on my way.
You held my hand tenderly as I learnt to write the alphabet, drawing an arch for an A and a curve for a B.
Yours were the hands which gently pushed my bicycle forward, teaching me how to balance.
It was in your summers that I lay under a slowly rotating ceiling fan, my T shirt soaked in perspiration, watching the blades turn circle after circle, wishing away the heat and longing for a cold bottle of sticky, sweet lemon banta, which would be drunk straight out of thick and heavy codd neck bottles, with a blue marble ratting in between.
In your monsoons, I ate bhutta, roasted on smouldering hot coal and rubbed generously with lemon and black salt which stung my lips and teased my throat. While rolling up my jeans to my calves, I walked through puddles of muddy water, trying to hail an auto which would whiz past me impudently, sprinkling me with tiny droplets of rain water.
And in your winters I discovered warmth in a grubby old sweater smelling of mothballs and a glass of brandy mixed with hot water, while I found comfort in the melting and streaming yellow sunshine and warm groundnuts, eaten out of tiny bags made out of old newspaper, tasting of wood smoke and dust.
Delhi, oh my Delhi, you taught me to scream and hit back when sweaty hands tried to grope me on a DTC bus,
You showed me how to bargain hard for that cotton skirt at Janpath and how to stuff an entire golgappa into my mouth, while streams of tamarind water dripped off my chin.
It were your warm fingers which rubbed pungent mustard oil into my hair on balmy winter mornings.
Oh Delhi, you made me crave for fragrant Kakori Kebabs and creamy Butter Chicken and warm Garlic Naan dripping with grease,
You understood when I went all the way to Connaught Place only to eat a warm and flaky mutton patty from Wenger’s,
Or when I sat in McDonald’s eating chicken nuggets with barbeque sauce long after midnight,
You smiled at me indulgently, never judging, when I ordered a double scoop of Mississippi Mud Pie in a waffle cone at Baskin Robbins.
You gave me my first pay cheque Delhi and also my biting sarcasm!
Oh Delhi, you've been my most sensuous lover,
Running your impatient fingers deep through my hair,
Whispering urgently into my ear,
Brushing your boisterous lips against mine as I drive down your wide, tree lined streets, windows rolled down on a warm April morning.
You romance me and seduce me,
Pulling me into your ample sun washed patches of green and your crumbling sandstone monuments flushed a deep crimson,
You entice me down the crowded and curving lanes of Old Delhi,
Embracing me in your chaos.
Delhi, oh Delhi, you brash and flamboyant Casanova,
You belong to no one and yet, you’re all mine,
And like a jealous lover, I possessively throw my arms around you,
Laying claim to you, again and again and again!
Image Credit: The husband and his iPhone 4S