When in Delhi...
Many things have been said about India, and many more have been said about
the capital of New Delhi. As I write this article, my mind wonders cynically, what
else is there to be said about New Delhi, don’t you have anything more original to
write about? But my heart compels me to write about what I love, no matter how
much has been said already... And the truth is I love Delhi. But more than
anything I love the Delhiites. If you ever have the chance to visit Delhi, you will
find that what makes the city so interesting, besides from its history and
magnificent architecture, is really the people.
Delhi is a city where I constantly find myself torn between fear and love, disgust
and pleasure, rage and compassion. The mixture of beauty and dirt, wealth and
poverty, comfort and discomfort is a daily emotional rollercoaster for me. I was
reassured by my Delhiite friends that they too feel this constantly. So it’s not just
me is it? No. It seems that this is how it is for everyone. Delhi is the city of polar
You will meet crazy people, wise people, poor people, sick people, rich people,
fashion addicts, bananas salesman, wanna-be businessmen, the orange juice guy,
the mango guy, the bank staff, the waiter, the building’s security guy, the water
guy, the cool kids, the driver, the gays, the old, the young, the grandma, the
beggars, the house’s servant and other millions of people will cross your path in
one day! And to make it even more interesting, they are all from different
religions, casts, colors, and even cities!
They will scare you, they will welcome you, they will try to steal from you, they
will feed you, they will question you, they will teach you, they will take care of
you, they will advise you, they will tell you their stories, they will laugh at you, or
with you...they will judge you, they will invite you to their cousin’s wedding, they
will touch you, smell you, yell at you, fall in love with you...and often, very often,
these behaviors will be in complete opposition to what you had expected.
I have grown to dislike the rickshaw wallahs, as they are usually a never-smiling
serious bunch, difficult to catch for a ride, picky on their destination and always
trying to get some extra money from you! But one of them might give you the
ride of your life, in a pimped-up vehicle, flashing disco lights, broadcasting the
latest “desi” hits at a volume way too high! Or take two Indian grandmas: one will
hate you, one will adore you! Or while trying to take a photo of a stall at the
market, a man shouts a “Hut!” at me (go away!), while another will literally pose
and call up his friends to join on the picture!
There is no consistency in Delhi, or is there? So how do you adapt to such an
ever-changing environment? How do you live your life not knowing who or what
you will come across? It must be exhausting! –you might say...
So for all of you future visitors of Delhi, or any other place in India for that
matter, here is THE tip! Innocence.
No I am not talking about you being innocent of any crime, I am talking about
being in a state of innocence. And like my mentor showed me one day, look at the
word innocence, it is actually in-no-sense. What does that mean? Well, it means,
while in Delhi, don’t try to make sense of it all! Don’t judge, or expect. Let go of
your usual criteria of safety, cleanliness or friendship. Just observe and absorb.
There is nothing for you to do. You are not there to change the world, or restore
order in a chaotic place. Just let India leave its print on your soul, just be with its
people, just be in innocence...