He walked out of a bustling Chandni chowk metro station, with sweat drops finding their ways under his cotton shirt as he walked through the dark alley leading him to a Dahi bhalla shop. It seemed stuck in a corner of some unknown era, somehow finding its way into the present. Natraj, they called it, ‘my favourite eatery’ he started calling it thereafter.
It was his first time in the mystifying land of Chandni Chowk. That’s what he told his new friends while sitting on the terrace of Indian coffee house, turning the pages of Delhi’s most fascinating chapter, Connaught Place. It was a change from the previous six years he spent in Pune, few of it were spent dreaming about Delhi. Everyone looked different, colorful, overdressed, joyful, loud, and ‘welcome to Delhi’, they all seemed to be saying.
The ones, who filled up his dreams with Delhi’s colorful strangeness, which he observed while strolling through the narrow lanes of Hauz Khas Village before stumbling on to a pretty girl playing piano in the Elma’s bakery.
He saw her again, while eating an ice cream in the rain. She was drenched, he was dreamy, while Rajpath was filled with the sweet aroma of first showers and his camera was full of pictures that captured the carnival mood.
The carnival mood, which carried him back to that Sunday he spent listening to Dastangoi at NSD with strangers, but none looked like one. They all smiled at him, just like that first day at Old Delhi Railway station, when at 5 AM he saw Delhi wake up to the rhythm of incoming trains. Each carried many new dreams like his, the dreams that built up this magic.
“What magic?” she asked.
“Magic, that is Delhi,” he said while ordering another bottle of butterscotch shake at Keventers.