You are not a Delhiite if you don’t identify with these 20 things!
Many dismiss India’s capital city with words like ‘unsafe’, ‘rude’, ‘show off’ and ‘last place I would want to go’. But to those who have called the city home for years, there’s no place quite like it.
The city is a study in amazing contradictions… from the classical architecture and tree-lined roads with bungalows to the multi-lane roads and swanky malls and multiplexes. Dilliwalas love their city with all its quirks. So how much of the Delhiite are you?
You are not a Delhiite if:
You aren’t instantly identifiable from the way you speak
Dilliwalas have a language that is all their own. We have our own version of rhyming slang such as kebab-shabab, daaru-shaaru, uncle-wuncle…you get the picture. Also, if you haven’t used words like jugaad, setting, and vella at least once, and learnt a bulk of your Punjabi from cuss words, you are not a pucca Delhiite. You call it AIIMS, we call it Medical, Delhi Zoo is chidiya ghar, and anything in the east of Delhi is ‘Jumna paar’ (across the Yamuna). Many of us wish we had Rs 10 for every time we heard someone ask ‘Pata hai mein kiska beta hoon?’ (Do you know whose son I am?) threateningly to a traffic policeman. We also really want to know the answer to that question.
You never negotiate for that little extra
We Delhiites will bargain till the bitter end. Whether it is with the stall owner in Sarojini Market over that must-have Forever 21 dress or with the leather merchant in Paharganj for that nubuck messenger bag, we will haggle till all parties are satisfied (trust us, the seller expects it too). This also extends to those aunties in their nightdresses and dupattas who will expect the street veggie vendor to throw in the dhaniya and mirchi free, even if they bought 1kg of tomatoes. Also, everyone knows that last gol-gappa (we don’t recognise paani puri) is free.
A variation of this is ‘yeh kitne mein liye?‘ (how much did you pay for this?) to a friend or colleague, just to show them that you got a better deal.
You haven’t complained about the weather
The summer in Delhi is too hot and the winter bitterly cold. The power cuts in summer are punishing and all five ACs in your two-bedroom flat are useless. Driving in the winter is also a pain with the heavy fog and finger -numbing temperatures. But you also know that the winter afternoon is a perfect time for dhoop sekhna (soaking in the same sun you spend the rest of the year trying to escape). Just look at the number of impromptu card games that pop up on public lawns across the city on any day of the week.
Your vast knowledge of India’s cuisine isn’t from the state bhavans and Dilli Haat
Whether it is the Sunday biryani at Andhra Bhavan, or the piping hot momos at the Nagaland stall in Dilli Haat, you know that every cuisine in the country has due representation in the city. From Kasmiri yakhni to Kerala appams and Gujarati undhiyo to Bihari liiti sattu, we have it all. And while we love to state our fondness for all things ‘eclectic’, chances are you will find us stuffing our faces in our cars outside Bhape da Hotel, Karim’s, Nizam’s, or Evergreen.
You are not secretly senti about the ‘fast food’ at Nirula’s
Long before there was authentic thin crust, long before there was smoked meat burgers with exotic organic cheese, and before Baskin Robbins brought its many flavors to tantalise us, there was Nirula’s. Outlets across the city would be packed on weekends with families wanting their fix of Capsicum Mushroom footlong, Mutton Sausage pizza, or ice creams like HCF, Nutty Buddy, or 21 Love. And somewhere in between all this would be an aunty who wanted her paratha – butter chicken, and would not be denied. Don’t judge… you know you have gone to the railway station post-midnight for your fix of Delhi’s favourite bird.
You have never attended a play or show at IHC
So it was experimental theatre where the actors jumped around on stage wailing to depict corporate oppression. You were mostly grateful that the dimmed lights hid your confused expression. But, it’s all ‘culture-shulture, yaar’. You can always recover with that shake at American Diner and a little Saturday, Saturday on the way home.
You haven’t attended a farmhouse party, where you didn’t meet or know the host
Everyone knows that the real action is at a ‘house party’. So you pile into a friend’s SUV with 10 others (4 of whom you have never met before) to attend the party because you know the host’s cousin’s girlfriend’s brother’s classmate.
You think road trips are for losers
When in Delhi, weekend getaways are the norm. Whether it is via the Yamuna Expressway to Agra, a trip to Jaipur for some bargain shopping, or a trip to Kasauli, with a stopover at a dhaba, you are not a true blue Delhiite if you and your friends haven’t taken one of your father’s four cars for a quick getaway. Liquid encouragement, which is a must on trips like this, is always available at ‘thekas’ along the way.
You don’t think your alma mater is the best
If you went to school or college in Delhi, chances are you have been involved in some of the legendary campus wars. Whether it is college or school, the battle lines are drawn. We also reserve bragging rights for celebrity alumni. If Hindu College has Arjun Rampal, Hansraj boasts SRK, and Ramjas the Big B. But the most epic standoff is between North Campus and South Campus. While the latter boasts the ‘hot crowd’ and access to South Delhi’s watering holes, North Campus is proud of its ‘intell’ types and ‘c-bats and hot sams from K-Nags’ (chole bhature and hot samosas from Kamla Nagar market).
You haven’t visited one of Delhi’s hidden architectural delights
Let’s face it. Everyone knows about Purana Qila, and Humayun’s Tomb, but you’ve known about places like Ugrasen ki baoli and the Chillah Nizamuddin Aulia, which historians believe to be the residence of Delhi’s patron saint, all along.
You are totally thanda about all those protests at Jantar Mantar
The minute something major happens in the city, you know there will be protests at Jantar Mantar. You either curse the protesters for interfering with your shopping plans or express your solidarity…after all, this is democracy at its finest.
You’ve never bragged about the Metro to an outsider, even if you only drive to work
The Delhi Metro is rightfully the city’s pride. Recently named in one poll as the second-best Metro in the world, this is Delhi at its best. Clean and punctual, it almost functions like a parallel universe of the Delhi you have left above the ground. And you smile snidely when you hear that another city is planning a Metro.
You have never stood in the queue outside Sagar Ratna
Delhi’s favourite Udipi restaurant has now sprung up everywhere. But, back in the day when there was only one outlet, you drove all the way to Def Col, took a number and waited, regardless of the weather, till the owner announced that it was your turn to eat the best dosas and vadas in town.
You don’t care about the Beating Retreat ceremony
The rest of the country may get very excited about the Republic Day Parade, but all those floats are so passé. The real pomp and ceremony is at the Beating Retreat. There is that breath-stopping moment after the last strains of Abide With Me have faded and the lights come on…and the audience lets out a collective sigh of amazement. You have never been so proud to be a Dilliwala.
You think Mumbai (shudder!) has better street shopping
When in Delhi, you must shop till you drop. Whether it is the bargain clothes from Sarojini and Janpath (that you swear you bought on your last trip to Barcelona), the handicrafts from Dilli Haat (so traditional, yaar!), or the dubious electronics from Gaffar Market and Palika Bazaar, there is something to match everyone’s taste and budget.
You didn’t smile with pride at practically every shot in Rang de Basanti
Whether or not you enjoyed the movie, you were so chuffed at how beautiful your city looked in the movie. For that matter, you get excited at any shot of your city in any movie.
You have never visited a mall
From Louboutin to Jimmy Choo and Gucci to Pucci, you have visited every shiny, swanky mall that dots the NCR. You may be buying in Honk Kong, but you know it’s important to be seen browsing here. You also spent two hours getting ready to come to the mall. However, you retain a special soft spot for Ansal Plaza. A million designer showrooms will not shake the memory of the first soft cone and burger you ate at the McDonald’s there.
You have never considered trying a new-age healing trend
It’s been all the rage for a while now, and everyone has jumped on the bandwagon. Whether it is vipasna, hot yoga, past-life regression, or crystal healing, you have tried or know someone who has tried to get in touch with their inner self or tried to get some part of themselves aligned with universal consciousness.
You haven’t ridden in a cycle rickshaw in Old Delhi or NOIDA (Nee-yo-da to the locals)
In keeping with your true nature, you haggle endlessly with the cycle-rickshawala bhaiya at your destination despite having pitied his plight during the whole ride… and knowing that you are ultimately going to give him what he asked for all along.
Yes… it’s crowded, aggressive, and packed to the rafters with people who preen and pose. But for the Delhiite, there is nothing that will take away from the first signs of winter in the air, the wafting fragrance of street food, and the sheer visual grandeur that few other cities in the country have.
These are just some of the things that make us love saddi Dilli. If you would like to share what makes you a pucca Dilliwala, do let us know.
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