It's winter! Mid-December in Delhi and if you choose to enjoy this moment, there is always that chilly stray breeze which spreads a sweet bone chilling to your core. As anyone who’s spent a good long time in Delhi would concur, the best part of the Delhi experience is the winter starting around after the fireworks clouds settle after Diwali ending with a colorful blast around Holi in March. The city slows down for these 3 months, almost into hibernation. The people become more tolerable in this period, to almost South Indian standards.
It's 10AM on a winter Sunday and the sun is as lazy as the people are, barely poking out of the thick fog that it rests itself on. After a stressful summer effort of burning down on the city, it is a well deserved break. A lazy winter Sunday wrapped in two layers thick rajai’s (blankets) could not begin if not for the quintessential winter breakfast - butter dripping aloo parathas and ginger flavored tea; the combo is something best enjoyed on a winter morning.
The laze of this season brings along with it a unique set of aromas. Bathing becomes a bare necessity. Sweaters & pullovers get considered for a cleaning once a month if conditions are favorable. The DTC buses and Metro boogies carry along this unique aroma for the period of winter. It is not that summer does not have a similar effect but yes it’s uniquely distinguishable for an outsider or a non-regular traveler on these modes of travel.
One essential part of the Delhi experience, and a recommended must taste for the single men, are the ladies (spelled Ladiezz, emphasis on the ‘zz’) of this extreme city. Conditioned to the hardcore male dominated cultures - endorsed from the mixed cultures of UP, Haryana, Punjab & Bihar; and contrasted with the opportunities of the free thinking progressive culture of the academic & army classes. These are women you should think twice before you mess around with. It’s easy to get your heart broken by them. They are well-endowed & clever, they are motivated & driven. They are the Bloody Mary among drinks – spicy, addictive, and seductive. A habit difficult to lose! Winter or Summer they are dressed to kill.
Its 6.30PM. Its dark and the markets are swarming with people, looking for a hot glass of malai laden milk or a plate of steaming momos with a side of chili sauce or for the adventurous some ice-cream. And then who can miss the waft of warm air from the soup, kathi roll or momo stalls that are built to draw the world towards them like flies & keep them warm. Food is an essential part of the experience of Delhi. Food from the kebabs from the gulli’s of Nizamuddin, jalebi & samose from Chandni Chowk, the Chole-Kulcha walahs or the Haldirams & Aggarwal’s or quite simply the nearest Chaat walah.
As it gets past 8PM, begins the one thing that defines & captures the essence of Delhi in all its awe – The Big Fat Delhi Wedding! Women oblivious of the of the chill clad in sleeveless blouses & waist exposing sarees, rhythm-less tunes & beats of a series of bands from multiple baarat processions both driving traffic insane. Here, marriages define identity. If you are not seen well enough, you need to at least be heard enough, and if you are not seen or heard enough then you need to at least be talked about enough - Rock Concert beating sounds & crowds, Lady Gaga defeating attires, Royal wedding beating ceremonies and limitless spending. Band baaja baarat baby, it’s the biggest set of parties in town! You are a nobody if you are not invited to at least 5 weddings in a season.
Also then there are always people dying in Delhi from the weather - summer or winter, this is the unforgiving nature of the city as it is today, its ‘Extreme’. Extreme in its love and extreme in its distaste (not hate). The real battle here is not though the weather or living conditions or the many other extremities but of the rigid structure of class / status driven, with its political, army, business, rich and poor classes well separated. Almost anyone here can claim “Tu jaanta nahi mei kaun hun!” (You don’t know who I am!). Almost anyone here is eager for an opportunity to thrash someone random, reasons then trivially concocted as convenient. Everyone here is ‘Somebody’! Everybody is ‘Extreme’! If you are not, then Delhi is not for you.