Friday, July 22, 2011

Remembering Saddi Dilli

Today marks twenty years since my family moved lock, stock and barrel to Delhi. Me, my parents and my grandfather arrived in Tamil Nadu express from Madras at New Delhi Railway Station (back then it was just Old Delhi and New Delhi Railway Stations that were worth a mention) and started off a new phase in our lives. For my parents, it was a change, but not too great - after all, they had spent 3 years in Jammu in the 70s and had had their fair share of travelling to the north and mingling with the communities.

For me, however, it was THE change. Moving out of the cocoons of living in Madras and being surrounded by TamBrahm setup everywhere, moving to Delhi and setting myself into a whole new world was overwhelming for me. I hadn't lived through a winter yet. I did not know schools had canteens (back then, canteens weren't popular in Madras schools) and I couldn't speak much of the primary local language.

Cutting a long personal story short, here is what I would like to recall the most:

  • The first few years were a struggle. An overenthusiastic and over-talkative kid can find it difficult in an environment where most don't understand what you are speaking to the extent that it can drive you nuts - at least one school teacher announced to the class in my absence that I WAS nuts! 
  • But then, once I got through that, Delhi has given me some of my best memories. Absolutely brilliant memories. 
  • It has given me exposure to a truly metropolitan environment, where everybody was truly welcome. If you could communicate with the guy in front of you, that was enough - whether you were a Dravidian or a TamBrahm or a Jat or anything else didn't matter. Everybody kept cognizance of your background, but I can safely say from my own experience - nobody acted on it, and that was enough for me.
  • It gave me a college degree and life long friends from that phase of my life. There are few other gangs (or Circles as Google Plus would lead us to believe) that I find myself totally at home than my college mates from SGTB Khalsa college days.
  • Last, but in no way the least, it has given me my wonderful wife - whom I met on a bus ride during college days. I married her at Delhi.
Cheers to Delhi - or shall I say Saddi Dilli!

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