Have you ever had that dream where you are taking an exam, unprepared. Or that you are outside and people are staring at you because you are naked? Well, I have actually lived that dream, though not that literally. It happened the first time I went to a shopping mall in Gurgaon. We had just reloacted to India after a 2 year stint in Germany. After having worn nothing but western clothes for ages, I wanted to go Indian. I was dressed in (what I thought was appropriate clothing for a casual evening out) a salwar kameez. I couldn't have been more wrong. When I saw what every other woman was wearing, I wanted to curl up and die. They were designer clothes, shoes, bags, and on designer bodies. These women took the term "dressing up" to a whole new level! And it wasn't even Diwali yet! That is one of the first things I noticed about this place - the well groomed (not necesarily well-mannered) men and women.
That was in November 2007. I can't believe that I am already writing about saying goodbye to Delhi. It seems like we just came here and already it's time to leave. To say that I am unprepared to part from here is putting it mildly. Note that I say unprepared and not unwilling. I always knew that my stay here was for a limited amount of time. What I was unprepared for was how soon that time would pass.
What will I miss in Delhi? The language Hindi, spoken and written. Hindi in all its Punjabi and Haryanvi glory. The SIMPLY AWESOME north indian food available at most restaurents. Talking of food...the paneer, that's as soft as down, the magnificent Dal Makhni, and the galauti kabab which, when prepared in the right way, just melts in the mouth. I could go on, but perhaps it would be only fair that I touch upon matters other than food.
Shopping!!! I completely and utterly blame Gurgaon for making me a shopaholic. Actually, make that mall-aholic. It was completely awesome living in a place where there were 7 malls within a radius of 5 KM. Almost every weekend found me in a mall...usually window shopping, watching a movie, or pigging out at the food courts. Of course, things changed after Vivaan was born....I could no longer go for movies as much. But I still continued my mall-a-thon every weekend. A direct result of that is that my off-spring feels very much at home in a mall, sitting on his favourite stroller. His favourite sport is going up and down an escalator. While it can be quite tiring, there's nothing that can compare with the rush of color on his chubby cheeks and yelps of excitement when he is on the escalator.
Shopping in Delhi meant an hour long drive to the capital. There are plenty of options to choose from : Karol Bagh, Lajpat Nagar, Sarojini Nagar, Dilli Haat and South Extension. And Delhi is no stranger to malls. DLF Emporio was one that I longed to visit, especially after I heard that parts of India's first bonafide chick-flick Aisha were shot there, but haven't been able to do so. City Walk at Saket is architecturally splendid. It boasts of some of the best brands and a very fine food court. The outer part of the mall (let's call it a courtyard) has pretty water fountains and is very well lit - a perfect way to spend a balmy evening resting your feet after hours of ogling at those designer wares.
The other end of the shopping spectrum would be Chandni Chowk. I only visited it once. But the spouse has visited it more than a few times. Each trip of his would end up in an upset stomach as a direct result of snacking at the famous paranthe wali gali. What would be interesting is to explore is the silver market (dariba kalam) and the chawdi bazaar that specializes in handmade paper/wholesale stationary.
I did visit the usual tourist spots, the historically relavent places. Qutub Minar, Humayun's Tomb, the Lotus Temple and Akshardham - all must-see destinations. My favourite one was Humayun's tomb. We were also lucky to have been able to visit the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
I hope I will be able to visit Delhi again, hopefully sooner than later. Until then, it is alvida, Dilli!