Why do I love Delhi? A is still unable to fathom the depths of my infatuation. He truly believes that Mumbai is the city of dreams. But only a certain kind of dream can take root in the grit of the city that smells of fish. We have a very uneasy relationship, Mumbai and I. I don't like her; she senses it and reciprocates. We have history of the bad kind. The future doesn't hold much promise of reconciliation.
I try to explain it to A. I tell him that I love Delhi because our souls are similar, and entwined. We are old, and reserved, and open and gaudy. I read a book which says that you can't help giving, or withholding, your heart. Mine was given without restraint or struggle, to a city with forts and bungalows and aloo tikki on the streets and cheating auto drivers and some horrifically dumb people, mostly boys.
Summer days where all you can do is use your breaths to bridge the gap from one moment to another. Autumn laced with the acrid smell of the ten thousand rupee endless firecracker that your neighbour uses on Diwali to show he's arrived. Winter arriving with a blaze of fiery carnations that take your chilled breath away. The Tibetan lady in Lajpat Nagar whose momos never hit a false note. The lime soda guy in North Campus whose crooked smile is still summoned up in an instant by your mind. The sublime finesse of LSR Cafe's very own stuffed parantha and boondi raita. The feel of 100% cotton in your quintessentially Delhi garb, heavy on the kajal please. The friend whose mom makes the best rajma ever, and the one who taught you that Ctrl X equals Cut. Girlhood. Womanhood. Heartbreak and elation, never the same twice.
It's the one thing that still has the power to make my hands fly over the keyboard with impassioned, fevered words, even while writing rubbish for a living has choked whatever writer was left in me. That is why I love her still.