By Sagar Malik

I always thought lists were prose for the lazy, and that they reduced what should be persuasive or expository essays into bullet points for the easily distracted, but that was before I stumbled upon ’92 Signs that You’re Harsh and Overly Critical.’ My first thought after reading this was that I’m not Harsh at all {that’s my cousin}. My second was that for the sake of my spiritual well-being and my fondness for not having my heart explode, I should try to be a happier person. Now I can be found at the entrance of the Hauz Khas Village parking lot with a ‘Free Hugs’ sign, and if you manage to find a spot, a hug is the least that you deserve. This isn’t an easy city to get by in, though you could argue that except the city that’s actually a principality on the French Riviera, no city is. Wherever you live, you inherit the singular quirks of that city, including its unique hardships. In Mumbai, it’s the bonus sweat and grime of about eight thousand people on the local from Borivili to Churchgate. In Chennai, it’s the noise. In Kolkata, it’s Kolkata. And in Delhi, it’s the list below – reminding us of two things.

It could be much worse.

That was either a very well worked paragraph, or a massively convoluted one, depending on whether or not you’ve gone through the ninety two signs of being a harsh and overly critical person.

  1. The feeling of dread when you’re driving up to a checkpost and wondering if the cop is going to breathalayse you and let you be on your way, or stop you and proceed to ask more questions than a matrimonial agent.
  2. The burden of the knowledge that you have a statistical chance of 16.66% to be the one who has to drive to the border to get alcohol if its even remotely close to your eight year old cousin’s bedtime.
  3. The fear that you’ve not been told the secret theorem that explains how honking resolves traffic jams.
  4. The feeling of curiosity about their daily commute, whenever you see seemingly carefully sculpted bed-hair or spiky hair on someone in Delhi.
  5. The confusion of not remembering why the sun is on a mission to melt you in particular.
  6. The frustration of not knowing who won the ad-hoc race between Daredevil, Gujjar Boy, Jatt Risky after Whisky and Dad’s Gift.
  7. The nonchalance at witnessing the flaunting of lawbreaking.
  8. The anarchy of sentient lanes of traffic.
  9. The inability to change that ‘setting’ doesn’t mean ‘configuration’ in Delhi; it means ‘connection.
  10. The pertinent question of how truck drivers acquired satanic levels of insolence.
  11. The difficulty we all have in remembering at what point it’s alright to sucker punch someone when they bitch about Delhi.
  12. The strength of character required to not look at the peeking of hopeful chest hair as it spouts out of a shirt with more buttons open than closed.
  13. The feeling of abject misery otherwise pleasant drizzles bring, because all roads morph into lakes with their own marine life-forms and boating rides if it rains for the duration of a full song on the radio.
  14. The crushing disappointment of never being able to jump into puddles like happy children. Because it could be, you know, not water.
  15. The inescapable logic of a tent, a subsequent roadblock and a twenty minute detour, if any Chintu, Bunty or Golu in a fifteen square kilometre radius is getting married or having a birthday or a haircut.
  16. The fear that drivers enjoy pulling up next to you and looking into your eyes, all the way into the depths of your soul, instead of looking at the road and the direction they’re going in.
  17. ‘I disagree with a facet of his existence. Should I curse his mother or his sister?’
  18. The careful risk-reward analysis required to choose between our incredible streetfood and spiteful weather.