“Do you promise not to judge me?” If I had a penny for how many times I’ve started my sentence with this line in these last 8 months in Delhi, I’d be a typically wealthy Delhiite.
As I was clutching the side-handles of the dangerously unstable cycle-rickshaw en route to my Friday night hangout, I began to reminisce my Delhi days. I realise that 8 months sounds like too short a time to reminisce, but these 8 months have felt so much longer than 240 odd days. Dog months.
So many beginnings and an equal number of conclusions. I’ve had a relationship start and end, twice over. With multiple people. I even got a divorce.
The wife left me. Delhi got the better of the poor bastard mentally and physically. He broke his leg in his final month and decided to call it quits. No evening Tang, no pointless fights, no burps on my face, no dinners at Qureshi’s (which FYI is owned by Huma Qureshi). I could almost picture a montage of all these wifely duties in slow motion with ‘Dost…Dost na raha’ playing in the background.
I was forced to shift house from the upmarket Greater Kailash 2 to the dog’s infected rectum that is Govindpuri. Govindpuri – where the roads smell of piss, traffic signals are a waste of metal and a flurry of screaming vehicles whiz dangerously passed lazy cows forever stationed right in the middle of the garbage riddled roads. When the screeching of the impatient cars dies down, the share-an-auto drivers are screaming random destinations in the ears of the passers-by.
By 9 pm, however, the traffic comes to a halt, the noise is negligible and the setting is solemn. This is in preparation for the rapes and robberies that take place at the dead of night. I, fortunately, have no first hand evidence of this – I’ve just been warned by many an auto driver. My initial reaction was that they all were exaggerating. I would know since, I’m a bit of an expert in that field. But then I saw this random guy standing on top of a relatively new Santro break the windshield with something that looked like a large brick. I looked at my auto guy in disbelief. He shrugged it off as just another usual occurrence.
The auto guys around my house are a nice bunch of guys – a rarity in Delhi. I know most of them by face. I just have to utter the words – metro, football or bar – and they know where to take me. I have never been one to experiment. I was on my way back from a drunken escapade once, when one the auto guys – Esrarji – blew my intoxicated mind.
I started a conversation with him, like I do with all auto/cab guys. I mentioned that I hail from Pune and his eyes lit up. He told me that he was an Osho follower and I couldn’t believe my ears. He asked me if I was married. Then he asked me if I have ever had sex. Then he shared his opinion on sex.
“Sex is not the destination, but the boat that takes you there. Marriage is against everything that I believe in now. But I am bound by responsibilities. My only other regret in life is that I had picked up Rajnishji’s book too late. If I was unmarried I would have all the sex I wanted so that I could finally reach my ‘dhyan’ – where you can talk to the trees and the stars”
Obviously, by this time, I had realised that his breath was a significant contributor to the stench of alcohol in that stuffy auto. But I didn’t care. When will I ever meet a forward-thinking auto guy again?
That’s one of the things I have loved about Delhi – the access and proximity to some amazing people. In one week, I talked football with the Maharaja of Tripura – he is a big Fernando Redondo fan – I had a beer with the owner of Salgaocar Football Club and met a guy who very nonchalantly narrated an incident of how he had been kidnapped in UP. I also had a drinking session with Rumboy Nicholas – one of the funniest people in the world. Amongst other disgraceful, disgusting yet hilarious guy-talk, RN educated me on the ‘Fart Theory’ while we slayed an old monk. “Macha, the louder the fart, the deeper the connection” – he told me. “There is a certain comfort factor with a willingly vociferous eructation. And that is the true test of a relationship. So let her rip!”, he said. We laughed our guts out.
And then I turned 25. I still don’t agree with the ‘quarter life crisis’ tag that comes with this number – at least not for us guys – but it does make you think about your life. When all your contemporaries are rattling off announcements of engagements and marriages and sometimes even babies – you do feel a little old. Like you’re on the brink of adulthood, on a cliff hanging by a thread that is getting weaker every day. You want cram a lot of craziness in the little time that you have left.
Luckily for me, I’ve been been doing that even before I turned 25. Delhi has been my hub of insanity. Never a dull moment. Many an unspeakable moment, I even wrote a song. But this mad city has always kept me at a safe distance from boredom. It has been exhausting, confounding yet exhilarating.
I got off the cycle-rickshaw aware of my intense fear of the rickety contraption and was calmed by heart-warming smile of the moustachioed door-keeper of 4S – my place of peace. It’s all good when you’re having a beer at 4S. I probably won’t settle down here but this will always be the place where I created the most memories. Oh and my moustache finally grew in Delhi.