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.

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.

The Confined Spaces Complexity

A rant on the new house that I have just moved to.

It’s no secret that I am not a big fan of confined spaces. And yet, I know that I need to embrace those. In fact, here are three situations I can think of where I actually look forward to trapping myself in these confined places!

  • I love airports and travel. And I thus need to be ok with confining myself in those metal tubes for hours as they hurl me through the skies. And if I am on the road, I need to of course get in them cars and navigate.
  • I love highrises and rooftops and the birds-eye view that these heights give you. And I thus need to use those lifts to reach the top and enjoy the view.
  • I love Mumbai more than I love Delhi. Actually, I am not sure of this one. But I do like to be in large port cities (at least the ones I have been to – Mumbai, Calcutta, HK, NY etc). And these cities are typically cramped. I have no clue why.

Staying with the bit about staying in Mumbai, lemme talk about this house that I just moved into.

Even though this is fairly decent for a house in Mumbai, this one is probably the smallest I have lived in (except the 1 tiny room where I was a paying guest for the first two years of my life in Mumbai between 2007 and 2009 — it had just half a bed, a tiny cupboard sized “thing” to be used as a washroom, one-half cupboard, and just enough space to stretch my arms).

Funnily, the day before yesterday (my second night at the new place), I realized that the new house gives me the same vibes as an airplane! The same that I get when I am in a lift. Or a car for that matter.

What vibes? Stay with me. Lemme talk about the house for a bit.

To be honest, it’s not bad. Just that it’s in an old building and it’s small and has all the paraphernalia that comes with a house that’s, well, well-lived in. You know, a bed that’s too high and big for the room that it’s been plonked in, those wall-to-wall wardrobes that are deeper than what they needed to be, fake ceilings that bring the roof lower, the weird color of paint that makes space feel even smaller. You get the drift?

Coming to vibes, so, when I was drifting to sleep, even though I was on a bed, it felt as if I was sleeping on a flight. And when I woke up, I realized I had curled into a foetal ball – I can’t recall when was the last time this happened to me (I typically sleep on my back). I felt as if those walls are closing in on me. Reminded me of that scene from some horror movie where the protagonist is trapped in a room, and the walls and roofs of the room are closing in on the protagonist, purportedly to crush him! That!

For some reason, I also was reminded of this quip by a friend about highrises in Mumbai. She says that these towers are merely urban chawls without any respect for humanity. These are made to stuff as many people in as less an area possible as if we were mere cargo and they had to optimize the storage. All this while, I did not agree – I’ve always had some space to move around in the places I lived at. Not in this one.

I was also reminded of my abhorrence for things like aquariums, birdcages, muzzles, leashes et al. And the hatred for clothes in general (and the ones that fit way too well). I’ve always wondered how do people operate in such cramped quarters. The experience at this house will probably teach me that.

As someone who’s been a sponge when it comes to learning, I think this house will teach me a lot over the next few months that I will live here. Like I said a few days ago, these are interesting times, indeed!

With this, it’s over and out. See you guys tomorrow.

This is part of 30 minutes of writing every day for 30 minutes challenge. I missed the post on the 7th. Yesterday, I wrote on the Hero’s Journey for Deewaar. Today’s is this. Others in the series are at 3010, 3110, 0111, 0211, 0311, 0411, 0511, 0611.

PS: Though I have not been able to cover this per se in the post, I will miss inviting friends and family over. To be honest, I don’t really extend the invitation to a lot of people over but the ones that I do invite, they OWN my house (and my life) as much as I do. And the one that I have moved into, I am not sure I can invite any 🙁