Somewhere in the Middle

Once upon a time, foster father showed me a photograph of Robert Frost’s house which he visited while in the U.S. The photo looked like the angels in the heavens had taken up the place as a pet project and done it up in the most precious leaves, barks of trees, and pristine water for the lake. Foster father said there was no surprise that Frost was a poet if he lived in such a place. He said he’d leave me there and I could be a peerless poet, too. I recalled this incident on my recent visit to Delhi. I find it difficult to believe that one can ‘visit’ that place and not feel like there was something to be said. Not to make generalizations about this uncouth and ungrateful city, but for me, I find an unwavering charm in Delhi. Of course, like Boy says, I can never go around the city without ‘adult supervision’, which, is obviously true.

It’s easy to say so much about the city, but I will restrain myself. There’s nothing I can say that Amir Khusro, Ghalib, William Dalrymple or Sam Miller haven’t said. Of course, my means of expression are just as important for the purposes of painting history. Now that I am still waking up from the dream my recent vacation was, I am filled with the need to trim away the superlatives, and somehow roll the words on my tongue to taste my poetry. It’s not that I don’t want to write verses about the charm of the capital or pen prose about the regularity of a tier-2 city (Gwalior, in this case) and its ease of fitting into the giant canvas that is India. I just want to keep savoring the wideness and the dawdling of the day that hands all its colour to the night, which combines everything into black.

I left my organized and meticulous self behind, roamed around in chappals to wherever I liked not caring for where the bellies were left. I didn’t fold used clothes and placed them in a bag neatly, but I threw them on my unopened bags. I ate little, and then ate a little too much. I didn’t comb my hair for hours on end, and then straightened them for quick fixes. I cared far too little for what my I should have done, and too much for what I wanted to. Of course, to be fair, it was also because the cold was so biting that it was easier to just not do anything, than wash dishes or heat water. And then, I went Metro hopping  – half cursing the privileges Delhi has, when Mumbai should have them; and half counting the stops left before I change the line, again. I didn’t sleep for nights on end and danced to my heart’s content. With no cognizance of time, no Internet on the phone (that was consumed due to playing Candy Crush) and the absolute non-agenda of my itinerary, I spent some valuable time doing exactly what I wanted.

After all this, one would imagine that the flight to Bombay would have been excruciating, but it wasn’t all that pinching. More so because in those 8 days, I may have lived in extremes but the need to hold on to my superlatives slipped away quietly. I feel like I have slid somewhere in the middle, and I want to maintain this equanimity in my daily life. As much as I would have liked to write about the extravagance that was the city, the frugality that was my demeanor, and the hushed tones of a small city life, it is not to be. This is simply because in those days, the frills were snipped and the mundane became pronounced.

I guess that’s the poetry I bring back from the North, this time. The contours of the prosaic life and its many undisclosed peculiarities. The suspension of time and then, the subsequent expansion of it.

In the unexceptional are the sequestered glitters of life.

One thought on “Somewhere in the Middle

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  1. Sameen, I don’t understand the charm either. I just can’t point out one, ONE reason why I love the city so much. I have stopped asking myself that question now. There is something about that city which makes magic in the most innate, most non-dramatic day. I have lived in 5 different hotels since I’ve visited Delhi. I don’t know the charm.

    You can’t even call it an acquired sentiment because I have never read anything by Ghalib or Dalrymple. I don’t know if it’s the knowledge of it being a cradle of Indian History. I don’t know what it is. But the desire to make a one-day stop, if I’m anywhere close to the capital, is of such strength that I have never been able to say a no.


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