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A Shot at a Silver Lining | Delhi Beckons

Sagar posted on 20th August

By Sagar Malik

I can’t wait to get out of here: angst driven millennial, existential professional and cynical octogenarian. And the rest of us. From the searing heat of the summer, to your winter of discontent. And everything in between. From a weekend getaway or work, or a carefully planned annual vacation, to impulse indulgence. And at every other moment, at any other given point in time. Can’t wait to get out of here.

For a city I desperately love, I hate it far too often. Too many of us do. For a city I love, I spend far more than acceptable time writing down things I hate about it. We’re brought to this place too often – when years of abject dissatisfaction become a moment of wanting to be anywhere but in Delhi. There’s enough stimuli, for sure. I’ll resist the temptation to list them, but there is. And yet we come back.

I like to believe that Delhi brings us back. The ridge in the rain. Kebabs. Weddings. Winter afternoons. The usual suspects. And that we know a good time like no one else. You could throw us all to the deepest depths of hell, and in a few hours a dholwala, a couple of hermaphrodites and a pandit would show up and get some sort of party started.

This broken and debilitatingly frustrating city has conditioned us to believe that a party isn’t something that is happening, it’s something that you accomplish: you strive with forty minutes of driving on a road populated exclusively by homicidal maniacs, you persevere with a parking space in open defiance of the laws of physics, you overcome the frustration of having even your neighbourhood friends living twenty minutes away {hello Gurgaon}, you bear the burden of knowing that a cop having a bad day could ruin your night, and you are rewarded with an hour and a half of the kind of night you were hoping to have, before rapidly brightening lights will indicate that it’s time to go home, or think about an afterparty.

I don’t intend to draw any lines, because I’ve gleamed no unique insight into the relationship other places share with citizens looking to having fun. Except possibly Bombay. I’ve lived in Bombay, and I friggin’ love it. {Or Mumbai, if you’re wearing saffron and trawling the internet looking for people to threaten for being anti-national.} And yes, a party where you can see the sea is statistically likelier to be better than a party in which the views are either that of a lawn and then a wall, or of Mrs. Chaddha’s kitchen. And a party {a city in general} where women don’t have to punctuate sips of their LIIT’s with thoughts of their wellbeing and safety would be a rather nice change of pace. But we have something to be envious of as well: we’re fucking crazy.

Where else in the world are so many people simultaneously overcoming so much to just have a good time?

This isn’t rhetorical; I’m keen to be informed. I really believe that this is our silver lining: no one else has this commitment to dance on the side of the road, to have parties inspired solely by good weather, or to marry and make the process last nine days. I am confident that more people here dance at weddings of Manjeets on any given day than at Sunburn. And Tomorrowland. Combined. And multiplied by 43.

In the last month we’ve dealt with curfews, a nightclub brawl that’s resonated across a city of nearly ten million people, dudes in orange walking in the middle of the road because they went to Haridwar once, and a police department trying to curb restaurants playing music louder than five decibels, and this is put into context by the fact that normal breathing is ten decibels. {No, that’s right. We checked. Right here}

Come Friday, none of it will matter. We’ll brave the roads, and the slime during the monsoons for a spot under a canopy and a nice drink. We’ll brave U-turns four kilometres away for some stand-up, or an interesting artist. We’ll drive to that farm across dimensions of space, time and Chattarpur for wet grass beneath our feet and a spliff. They’ll write songs about us.

I travel manically for work, and I’m afforded the luxury of not working on weekends. I’ve seen no city in the world strive for enjoyment like we do. We may not have enough watering holes and dive bars or night clubs, but we’re making up for it with hope. We’re killing it with commitment.

Our collective cultural conscience may one day be wrought with shame to mirror our political or religious realities, or overwhelmed with sorrow. But we endure, recover and revel. I’ve seen nothing else, and I can’t ask for more.

Except for an Eminem concert.

And Coldplay.

And a mountain.

image courtesy Mohan V.