India Food Network
Oct 25, 2018
Let’s begin with the facts:
Bombay is the best city in the world; everybody’s fascination with moving here makes complete sense.
It’s a wondrous city, it never sleeps, you’re generally safe, everything is super accessible, we hold protests and vigils when we need to, and if someone held a vote that went, “Coolest city in India”, my….. MY CITY…. would win!
I am a 25-year-old writer, a SoBo snob like others call us, or a Townie as we do.
I write this, on my way to my new home, in a new city. Leaving Bombay.
Bombay gave me my entire personality, the quirks, the self-assurance, the ability to get a gunda beaten up because he ‘accidentally’ let his hands wander, Bombay gave me guts.
And now I’m leaving Bombay behind, along with my guts, because I’m heading to Delhi, my return, undetermined.
The cliché reads right, Bombay is the most real emotion I have felt, and what does a Bombay-wallah hate the most? Well, traffic, corrupt pandus and… Delhi.
I don’t know what it is, it seems we all just grew up with an inherent prejudice against the capital city, or maybe it’s just me. So my friends couldn’t control their laughter when I told them I’d be moving in the pursuit of ‘better opportunities’, “It’s not that Delhi is a bad place, it’s you, YOU are going to absolutely hate it,” my best friend had said. My old boss had advised, “I mean, don’t do this to yourself, that place is not for you.”
It’s true, I do have some serious issue with all things Delhi, I can’t even put a finger on it. The food is over-rated, it is inaccessible, it is WAY too big and people seem to have way too much time on their hands. I never got the charm, I hope to though.
So as I enter the premises of the scary looking society somewhere in Noida in my cab driven by ‘PhoolC’ (that is my UBER driver’s name), the realization sinks in, this is going to be my home whether I like it or not, and as I see the face of the ex-colleague -who I’m bunking with till I find my own place- I feel the need to want to run back home and tell my mother I don’t want to be independent, give me my pocket money please.
But, I am a grown-up, so I take my bags out of the cab, give PhoolC his dues, and turn to Neo (That’s what they call her), she gives me a tight hug, takes my bag, flashes a huge smile and says, “Welcome to Delhi! You’re gonna hate it!” I laugh, but her smile is reassuring. I feel a little welcome.
She stays with two other girls, but I’ll be bunking on her floor. She introduces me to the stray dogs around the building: Coco (he’s brown), Mama Doggo (stupid name), Shy Boy (stupider name) and I stopped listening after as they started trying to lick me and that is not okay, so I ran inside.
We go upstairs, the house looks all right, I freshen up in a bathroom that looks like it has been exorcized. And then Neo and her roommate Neha offer me food. Considering I had my last meal over 12 hours ago, I’m ready to eat a horse. They have parantha and dal, it’ll do for now. And as I’m chewing on the jail-food-like fat parantha dipped in the watery dal, I already feel like this is going to be so hard. I’d like an avocado toast, please. I don’t want to offend them, so I gulp down the food, they seem to not notice how ill-prepared our meal is. But the warmth with which Neo has taken me in is a little surprising, I barely know her, I asked her on a whim and she was so happy to have a fellow Bombaywaali in her house, “You are going to have a lot of fun man, don’t worry, we’ll help you out, growing up is hard, but it feels really good.”
She’s just 22, wise beyond her years, see that’s the thing about people from Bombay, we spoke a total of 10 times, but now I’m living with her, that’s the sense of community in Bombay, and also cause she knows I’m not a crackhead.
So this is an ode, an ode to Bombay and how I took her for granted, an ode to Dilli, in the hopes it comes close to being home, and an ode to all those 20-somethings out there like me, who are trying to be independent, trying to make it on their own, trying to make ends meet. To those, who are trying to fend for themselves.