Mumbai life. In Delhi.

What is a typical day for me like when I am in Mumbai? And how did I try to ape that on this trip to Delhi?

My life in Mumbai is fairly simple boring. I wake up at whatever time. Wait till it’s 6:45. Get ready in 15 minutes. Out of the house by 7. And at the nearest Starbucks at 7:15. Lately, the one I goto (the new one under Versova Metro Station) opens at 8. So I’ve moved all those times by an hour. I get myself a green tea and from 7:15 till about 11 or 12, I am at Starbucks. On my computer. Some days I work, some days I plan to take over the world. Some days I just, well, surf.

By this time, I am kinda hungry. So, I grab either a sandwich or step out of Starbucks to eat something at some eatery. Preferably something South Indian. I then go back where I live. While time with something that’s been open at my end. And then catch a cat nap. Wake up at around 3 PM and then go back to Starbucks, repeat what I’ve done in the morning. And then stay till it’s 11 PM (when they shut their stores). Go back and sleep.

Been on this routine since these cafes opened up. I know I am being stupid and putting myself at risk but I’ve had enough of the four walls and I have to feed off the energy of other people. Oh, there are some days when I deviate from this routine when I have to meet some people or run some errands. But more or less that’s the routine I follow. This will change once I go back to Mumbai, will take up an office space. And no, I can’t work from where I live.

Since I came to Delhi for this break, while I have been on the road a lot, for work, I have essentially been holed up at home. And I HATE it. I am anything but a home-rat (if there’s a term like that). To a point that I cant work at all. Ideas dont come in. Words dont flow. Genreral lethargy takes over. I am sure this is evident in the posts of the last few days. Things that I can normally do in less than 5 minutes, at home, take me an hour to do. If I can do em.

So today, I did what I would do in Mumbai. The most accessible Starbucks to me (about 14 KMs away) opens at 9. I was out of my house by 8:20 and by 8:55, I was outside. When it opened, I was the first customer. And got myself an Americano. Yeah, I am back on coffee (see this post). I was there till about 2. I got more work done in these 4-5 hours than I did in the last week!

Then I walked to and ate at Naivedyam (a South Indian joint). Took a cab to go meet an ex-boss. Jammed on ideas for an hour. And then now, back home, where I am writing this post struggling to get the right words to express. Nah, I cant work from home 🙁

If not for time spent in commute and the general curtness of people I met today (Baristas, cabbies, etc), I could have very well been in Mumbai! And you know what? I loved it! Just that I wish I lived closer to a Starbucks!

With this, over and out!

This is part of 30 minutes of writing everyday challenge. Others in the series are at 3010, 3110, 0111, 0211, 0311, 0411, 0511, 0611, 0911, 1011, 1211, 1311, 1411, 1511

Dilli Ki Sardi!

My notes on what I love about Delhi winters, especially the grey winter skies.

So, one of the things about Delhi is the amazing Dilli Ki Sardi. In fact, its one of those things that I miss terribly when I am in Mumbai.

Lemme make a list of things that I love about winters in Delhi.

a. The grey winter skies

Lemme start with a controversial one. Most people think that the grey winter skies are sad things. But then, to me, these skies are what dreams are made of. There is so much hope, such a large canvas to paint on! Heck the infiniteness of the sky makes me yearn for that crack in the greyness that’d allow the faint rays of sun to peek through. Oh and what glorious sight would that be!

In Mumbai, there are no skies only, leave alone the grey ones or wintery ones or whatever.

b. The nip in the air

I am one of those blessed ones that can tolerate extreme cold. Even in the darkest of the nights in the harshest of winters, I can get by with a thin fleece. And of course, people are amazed that I am not dead by now.

The thing with this nip is that it makes life worth living. You are not sweating. You don’t get tired. You can walk on the roads that are typically empty (everyone else is too cold and thus tucked into their homes).

Nip in the air in Mumbai? Lol!

c. Momos!

No! They are not dumplings. No, they are not Chinese sandwiches. They are momos. And they are best had on a roadside kiosk, preferably under an open sky with the fiery-red chutney. Not sauce. And never with mayo. And definitely, never ever have it fried.

Momos are steamed. I eat vegetarian ones. The purists like the ones with pork or chicken or even bacon, from what I am told.

And no, Mumbai does not have momos. Like they don’t have cholle kulche. Like they don’t have samosa. What they have for samosa, it’s a sorry excuse for food.

d. The dhoop and chaon

In winters, when the sun’s playing hide and seek with you, you are trying to shuffle between the parts that are covered well in shade and the parts that have the sun shining on it! And you want to change literally, every 10 seconds. And this shuffling is what makes the winters so endearing. You cant live with it. And you can’t live without it!

I don’t think people from Mumbai would know of this. I’ve never experienced this in the 10 years that I’ve lived there!

e. Rajai

Last, but not least on my list is a Rajai.

I think a Rajai is the most romantic thing ever invented by humankind. Apart from a saree. And may be Lucky Ali or Rabbi Shergill. Anyhow. Rather than drifting, Rajai is the thing that I miss in Mumbai. There is so much you can do with it, I can write an entire essay on it! For starters, when you are wrapped with a rajai, even if you are alone, you are not alone. You have this thing that you can hold onto. And more you hold onto it, the more it loves you back. You feel the warmth. It gives you the best hug ever – it even takes the shape of your body!

And if you are the lucky one to have someone to share the rajai with, ooh la la. Life becomes worth living. You can forget every damn thing that is fucking with your head.

In Mumbai, there’s no rajai. Maybe a bed sheet to cover you with when the AC is blasting at 17 degrees for 4 hours.


So yeah, that’s about it. The short sweet post on what I love about Delhi’s winters. What is your trip? What do you like about Delhi winters? Lemme know!

This is part of 30 minutes of writing everyday challenge. Others in the series are at 3010, 3110, 0111, 0211, 0311, 0411, 0511, 0611, 0911, 1011, 1211, 1311, 1411.

Hello, extra 10 KGs

I rant about why and how I put up weight everytime I am in Delhi.

The thing that I hate the most about traveling to Delhi is all the food that I eat when I am here. I stay at home, with my parents. And since we are a typical middle-class Haryanvi family, all the affection comes out in form of food. And since my parents love me more than they love anything else (am hoping), they present me with so much food that I go back to Mumbai 10 KGs heavier! I often lament that amount of food I eat in a day when I am in Delhi is easily more than what I eat in a week when I am in Mumbai.

More than just the love and affection bit, there are quite a few reasons for this. Lemme list.

1. #ForeverAlone vs Family

In Mumbai, I live by myself. Been living like that since 2013 or 14. And that means that all the taste buds I had, I have sort of brought them under control. I can now go without eating tasty food for days. Food has become this functional thing that I need to consume to stay alive. I know there are foodies and food photographers and whatnot.

Plus I have focussed way too much on work and that means I have had limited time to indulge in finer things in life (food, friends, recreation, etc). And thus I’d eat whatever is presented to me.

Finally, I hate all the mess that cooking makes and I am a freak when it comes to hygiene and cleanliness. And I decided a long time ago that I don’t want a kitchen in my house till I am rich enough to have a full-time staff to manage it.

On the other hand, in Delhi, life revolves around food. And the times when people eat. Not just my family but all others that I know of. Meeting a friend? Let’s do lunch. Visiting relatives? Dinner! When you ask for ideas around what you could do, they’d say, go grab something to eat.

2. Access. Availability. Ease.

Thing is, in Mumbai, I don’t have a kitchen. And thus I don’t have anything stocked. Unless I am on a subscription, each meal is ordered. And that means I don’t have anything that I could munch on, in between the meals.

Plus since the pandemic, I have been working from home. So no kachra.

More recently, I’ve been working from a Starbucks. And the snacks there are expensive af and tasteless like a wet piece of cardboard. So, even though, I’d love to keep chewing on things, I can’t. And that means I am eating less.

At home in Delhi, it’s a home. And there are magical things that only a mother knows how to pull off. At strategic locations in the house, “healthy” food is strewn all over. Like this small bowl near my father’s desktop. It’s always filled with soaked almonds! There is this drawer in our kitchen that has roasted almond stocked in. Then there is this barfi kinda thing that my mom makes – again of almonds and again placed on top of the ref, easily accessible. The point is, at each part of the house, there are convenient eating options.

3. Distractions galore!

At Mumbai, I am so distracted all the time by so much action all around me that I forget to eat. Really. Some people may call it flow. Some may call it being in the zone. Some may not have a name for it. But when I am in Mumbai, I am really really busy on I don’t know what! There’s always work to do, dreams to conjure, projects to kick off. There’s always one or two fires that I am fighting out all the time. So, no time to eat.

In Delhi, I am mostly free. And even when I do have work (like this trip, I am loaded with work) and I am scrambling hard to meet people, get things done, for some reason, I am still eating like a whacko! May be its availability. Or may be it’s planning around food. Whatever it is. I can’t seem to keep my hands away from my mouth.

4. Stress?

This is unique to this trip and I did not really want to include it here. But I think I must. So, I think I have managed the pandemic well, in terms of my mental balance and stress levels. But the last two months have been terrible. For a variety of reasons that we shall not get into. A large part of coming to Delhi (see footnote) was also to take a pause, take a break, get away from humdrum, and the muck in the head. And may be, just may be, I am eating all this food this time around cos am stressed?

Footnote 1: If not for this random stress, I would have still come to Delhi. Just that I used stress as yet another rationalising input to justify the travel during the pandemic.


So yeah, that’s my story on how I always go back to Mumbai 10KGs heavier. What’s your story? Of food? Of when you are at home?

This is part of 30 minutes of writing everyday challenge. Others in the series are at 3010, 3110, 0111, 0211, 0311, 0411, 0511, 0611, 0911, 1011, 1211, 1311.

The Coffee Consumption Confession

I talk about what exactly I love about a Starbucks Coffee store near me. And why I had coffee today after almost a month.

For someone who’s a big Starbucks fan and spends almost 5 hours every day and 4000 bucks a week there, I have a confession to make.

I don’t really love coffee as much. To me, any roast, any bean, any method of making coffee is the same, as long as there’s no milk in it. I HATE milk!

I think marketing team at Starbucks understands people like me. At Starbucks, they keep tinkering with the fabled Starbucks menu, they can’t seem to get my attention. I always want that regular Earl Gray Tea (at least for the last few weeks). They even tried the gimmick of reducing the price of Starbucks Coffee, I remain non-committal. I simply can’t love what they brew!

What I rather love is their ambiance, the comfortable seating, the jazz (that people world over love to hate), and the general sense of ease and familiarity and niceness all around. I know a large part of it is faux but at least for the time you are there, the duration you are hanging out, it’s cool. You feel you belong to that place.

Plus, most times, the patrons hanging out at an outlet tend to be the same. You start knowing them by their faces, even if you don’t know their names. They tend to sit at the same spots. You start knowing those spots and the paraphernalia that they would use to claim the spot. Like at this Starbucks near me, this girl comes in at around 11 and she likes to first take out some 10 books, place them all over the table and then, start her work. This another girl, all she cares for is a charging point and whatever she’s lost into, in her phone. This young couple always takes that corner seat and are oblivious to the world outside. To a people-watcher like me, a Starbucks is a gold mine. At some point, I need to also get comfortable being a Sherlock and start making deductions 😀

Anyhow. The point of this post?

Well, two points.

a, I had to write for 30 minutes.

b, Today, I had coffee.

Yes I did!

After may be a month or so. And no it was not from Starbucks. But from some random place. And no, I did not have a reason per se. Just that I was meeting a friend after really long and I have this really strong association of coffee and her. And breaking the coffee consumption chain while I was with her felt like a great way to reinforce the association.

No?

Part of 30 days, 30 minutes, 30 posts project. Others in the series are at 3010, 3110, 0111, 0211031104110511061109111011, 1211.

The Delhi Discipline Discussion

Why do people from Delhi act in a certain manner? I put on an amateur anthropologist’s hat and investigate.

I am in Delhi as we speak. I am here for Diwali. I know COVID is wreaking havoc on how life is, especially in the two places that I call home – Mumbai and Delhi. And I know this too shall pass. And I know words are of no use per se in such situations. But I do know that us humans are more resilient than even cockroaches and we will prevail. And with that self-assuring message, lemme get to the rant post of the day.

The Delhi Discipline Discussion.

Delhi has always been subjected to those loud opinions about the lack of discipline (when compared to residents of other large cities) and I think these accusations are very true. We are loud. We are vociferous. We like to assert our opinions, even when we aren’t really asked for those. I mean, look at this essay. Who asked me to write this? No one. Who cares for what I write? No one. Who’s flip their opinion about Delhi after they read this one? No one. And yet, I am writing this.

Of course, this is an attempt in writing for 30 minutes. And thus I am happy to post anything that comes to my head (which, today is Delhi). But I do have an important point to make.

Don’t shoot the messenger.

While people from Delhi are known to lack discipline and thus are hated for this, I am proposing that rather than chastising them (and me – I call Delhi home), we need to look at what drives this behaviour. I am no anthropologist but I am an amateur people watcher and that means I have a perspective on why we are, how we are.

Let’s investigate…

The roots of Delhi

Delhi, like any other old city, is like a melting pot of cultures and people and tribes and opinions and ideas. One of the lores I read once, it says, Delhi will go through seven cycles of prosperity and doom. Each time it dooms, it would rise from the ashes and create an even more fabulous, grander city on top. Of course, the fables are more romantic than factual but it says something about people here. That they are survivors. And they know how to build things from scratch. And that means there is something in their DNA that makes them take initiative. Not in the starting-up sense but in taking-a-stand sense.

The ones that go thru the cycle of doom and bloom are known to have no patience. They say Mumbai is the city that does not sleep. I’d say Mumbai does not sleep because if they do, they’d perish. It’s more like they are on their toes all the time. Delhi, in comparison, is made up of go-getters. They know that life’s short and they need to do things now. And this manifests into aggression on the roads, disdain for rules, love for shortcuts, and all that.

So, next time you see a Delhi guy trying to break queues at a cinema hall (now that they are open), don’t hate him. Hate the genes that have been passed to him over the years. You know, don’t hate the player? But the game?

The upbringing in Delhi

Now that we have established that Delhites are gifted with genes that are little, well, fast. Now, let’s look at how they grow up. Unlike Mumbai (the only other place where I have lived for long) where kids are privileged (even in the poorest of the poor locale, kids have this sense of belonging and identity), Delhi kids don’t have it. And intuitively, a child wants to assert it. You know, genes at play. And there is so much competition that the kids in Delhi are forced to ace the Darwinian struggle. And thus, the already raging genes are nurtured to become even angrier assertive.

Plus the super swings in Delhi weather and the Delhi temperature that varies from -5 to +50 cooks the grey matter in your head in this curry that is more potent than that open bottle of aam ka achaar in a tightly packed bag of clothes in a third-tier AC compartment.

The grown-up man-child of Delhi

This applies to men more than it does to women (for some reason, almost all Delhi women I know have been at par with women from other places). I’ve been called a man-child since I become a man. And I am proud of it. And even though people in Mumbai hate this about me, I think it adds to the character. Lemme elaborate.

They say that progress in the world is made by the unreasonable man. The troublemakers, the misfits, and the round pegs in square holes. If left to the regular ones, we would probably be still in the caves with leaves as clothes and a chisel as our communication tool. If not for these, we would still not have discovered all the countries that are the epicenter of consumerism and progress and growth. If not for these, we would not have that mad dash at asserting and discovering the new that has pushed us forward. If not for these, we would be a timid bunch of species that would cower everytime we hear a distant rumble!

I can give numerous examples. But I hope you get time drift. At least the ones from Delhi would. In fact, the ones from Delhi, ladies, and gents, are as round as they come. And thus, I postulate that these grown-up man-childs from Delhi are all responsible for all the progress that we’ve made!

Think about it.

And with that, over and out. See you guys tomorrow (hopefully – I have a long day and I may not be able to take out time).

Part of 30 days, 30 minutes, 30 posts project. Others in the series are at 3010, 3110, 0111, 021103110411051106110911, 1011.