a love letter to new delhi

there are only a few things that make me feel at home, and you’re one of them. i know it’s surprising coming from me. it must seem like i forgot about you for the past ten years of my life when i was away from you, flirting with and getting to know other countries. but trust me when i say that you’re always in my heart. though you’re mostly corrupt, not sustainable in your habits, and there’s an extremely long way for you to go to be up to the mark with regards to your inclusivity and respect, you’re still always in my heart. here is why:

i love your warmth in june and briskness in january. i love your sunset walks to get mother dairy ice cream, and your midnight hikes with a mug of bournvita in hand. you help me see that sunlight and moonlight both truly do cascade over your silhouette. i love the way you make kadak chai: strong, like me. i love the way you make momos and gol gappe. i love the way you help me better my bargaining skills, teaching me that small victories (yes, even the ones that are worth 5 rupees instead of 10) are really worth celebrating. 

i love your ability to teach me which road-side fruits and vegetables are the best, and which stalls to buy them from. you, throughout the years i was touristing your wide roads and small galis, taught me that i should never get henna done while shopping at dilli haat, and that buying junk jewelery from there is the worst idea (sarojini is the best). i love whenever you play arijit singh’s songs on the radio, specifically 93.5 red fm (*whispers* bajaate raho). i love that you can transition from bollywood music to jagjit singh’s ghazals in the matter of a minute. a true embodiment of versatility is what you are.

you’ve taught me that delhiites work super hard to get to wherever they want to get in life. i’ve seen this hunger for success at 6 am when the newspaper man hands me the day’s news and receives his 10 rupees with a smile on his face. i’ve seen it at 8 am in the metro station, and at 3 pm in offices, where work resumes after the usual cup of chai and plate of samosas. you’ve taught me that “hard work ke bina kuch nahi ho sakta” (nothing can happen without hard work). thank you for helping me embody bits of yourself within the kind of person i am. 

to tell you quite honestly, i no longer feel like a tourist in my home country. you, and many other delhiites i’ve come to know in my time, have taught me to accept you however you are. the good, the bad, and the ugly. you know that there is room for improvement for you, but you make me happy. you feel like home; always have, and always will. and that will never change, no matter how many cities, states, countries or continents i flirt with in the future. 

Tanvi Ajmera

Cover image credit: Encyclopaedia Brittanica