At 18, a girl with high dreams and zero knowledge of the real world, I reached the city that is fondly known as the rape capital of the country. With all the facts carefully drilled into my brain by well wishers, I was terrified to leave the boundaries of my fairly chill hostel after 5 pm for the initial few months. A roommate who got dragged into sex scandal two months into her new life didn’t help my cause much either.
Fast forward half a year, a fabulous girls’ college and some really amazing friends later, I defiantly braved this city. Scared yet undaunted, I haunted its lanes, stayed out late, partied, found some incredible friends in absolute strangers and despite some eerie moments, not once did Delhi fail to protect me.
A city with some of the best architecture, food that will tantalise your spirits and make you want to live just to eat, stories weaved in between its narrow streets that in itself cannot match any history lesson taught in school and some of the best people you will ever meet- the men who will stand up to protect you, the women who are fearless in every form and the auto wallas who have the most valuable lessons to offer.
Delhi gave me a family away from my own through a friend when they picked me up from the police station at 11 pm after I sat there the entire night filing an FIR report for my stolen camera, a friend with whom I could sit all night and discuss the most trivial of things right after patching up from a bitter fight, my guy friends who stood by me in the worst of times, memories from a college housing an array of strong women who taught me to be a real feminist, an incredible job of a food critic, a crazy pair of boss and equally crazy colleagues, a lesson in food “culture” and the most important lesson of all- a lesson about life- a lesson to not judge a book by its cover.
After six years, I may have left the only city I still call home but never will I lose respect for this beautiful city. Yes Delhi is dangerous, dangerously wild, curating the worst and the best, ravishingly delightful, titillating with a balanced flair of glitter and traditional, a city where you may have to be cautious every moment but if you let your guard down- just for a little bit- you may live to be engulfed in experiences of a lifetime.
Give Delhi a chance- give love a chance.
Always a Dilliwali at heart.
Photography credits- Deep Anmol Singh