Delhi is a dream

“I asked my soul:What is Delhi?  
She replied:The world is the body and Delhi its Life!” 
– Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib

Delhi is a heady assault on the senses – a spicy whirl of fragrances from places of worship, burning asphalt under the car tyres, fresh jasmine flowers on the traffic lights and rotting rubbish pretty much everywhere (much like rest of India). The Indian capital buzzes with activity, from the tired rickshaw puller peddling furiously along potholed roads to the large scary buses threatening to run over you in their mania to get somewhere.

I was born and brought up in Delhi, so even though I have been living in Bangalore for a few years now, in my heart I am and will always be a thoroughbred Delhi girl. Each time, my south India friends jokingly call me ‘dilli wali’ or ‘dilli ki kudi’, I pretend to look irritated or offended, but if you ask me, in my heart I love it. There is nothing like home, and will never be, and home to me is always Delhi. Why you ask?

Weather: Despite its scary and heartbreaking highs and lows, Delhi’s weather is addictive. Whether be the chilly winters that have inspired many a Bollywood songs and force you to bring out the best of your bright colorful winter coats, or the dazzling spring when the city becomes a bride decked in flowering trees and fragrant breezes, Delhi delights with its range os seasons and temperatures. When I used to live in Delhi, I used to loathe its merciless summers (which, regrettably, are getting harsher because of the general global warming each year), but now that I am in Bangalore where there is not much of weather variation (Weather moves from pleasant to warm/hot and back to pleasant), I realize Delhi weather rocked!

FOOD! A gastronomic paradise, Delhi’s true temples and shrines are its golgappas stands! I am a chaat lover, which goes without saying for any Delhi’ite! I love everything right from the aloo tikkis, papdi, fried aloo chaat and of course the golgappas! These hollow flour balls filled with a potato mixture, jaljeera like tangy water and tamarind chutney beat the version found in all other states hollow. Needless to say, each time I visit Delhi to meet my family and friends, I make several stops at these shrines each day. But of course, the awesome awesome part is that some of these shrines come to visit you! Yes, these wonderful chaat sellers go from road to road, calling out their wares in sing-song voices, clanging their ladles against their tapas to call out to your heartstrings!

People: Call them crass, call them rude, but Delhi people are a species of their own. Delhi is India’s brash, restless, gossipy melting pot. There are a thousand different species of the ‘Dilliwalla,’ well beyond the obvious stereotypes, and it is of course them who really make the city worth living in. They show off, they fight on the roads, they have seven cars for a family of three and they amaze you with their immaturity at times, but there is nothing like them anywhere in the world! And I realized it again after I left Delhi. Gosh, how I miss them!

Shopping!!! Delhi is shopping lover’s mecca. Sarojini nagar or Janpath for bargains, Delhi hear for its outdoor market with stalls selling food and handicrafts from India's many states, South Delhi or Gurgaon malls for the high end brands; whatever you need and whenever, Delhi has it for you. I have traveled quite a lot of the world, but believe me, some of the things I have found in Delhi are unparalleled even in the best travel destinations of the world. So you would not be surprised if I told you that I have never bought a single thing in Bangalore (I mean other than groceries r essentials!), I go to Delhi for all my big shopping needs!

Regal architecture and monuments: Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Humayun tomb, and the list is endless, but the beauty is that a lot of unknown monuments are found in the most unlikely places of Delhi as reminders of the city’s lavish history. Some of them are beautiful. Some are falling down. Delhi's medieval ruins are all over the city — not only in recognized “sites.” The government is sitting on a tourism gold mine. But for now, you get the joy of discovery, without the pesky guards and ticket takers.

Greenery: Oh yes, yes, you will now tell me about he rising pollution, especially in light of the recent firecracker ban, but did you know Delhi is one of the leafiest cities in Asia? yes, that is true! It's strewn with big, forested parks — some of them, like Jamali Kamali, featuring stunning medieval ruins. MY friends and I loved to beat the heat in the early morning at Jahanpanah City Forest, which features paved two-kilometer, five-kilometer and seven-kilometer jogging paths. Birdsong beats your iPad any day.

Weddings! Who can resist the allure of a big fat Delhi wedding? I have friends from around the country and around the world who have requested me to invite them whenever there is a wedding in my family. Yes, that is the reputation and touristic draw of a Delhi wedding! An extravagantly dressed bride and a groom riding a white horse, surrounded by a bunch of drunken, dancing maniacs, the best of food spread out to suit your tastes, people dressed like movie stars and expansive Lutyen’s Delhi lawns lush in their glory. And that's not even the best thing about a Delhi wedding. The best thing is that there's kind of no real guest list. A 600-person turnout is small, and at least over 1000 people are expected normally, sometimes going up to 3000 guests at a single function.

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