Step off the plane and the aroma of Delhi hits you. A stroll along the now famously hideous airport carpet, luggage out in record time, skip through duty free, a taxi ride in a cab that should have been scrapped 20 years ago, the 3 inevitable questions from the taxi driver, ”Your country madam, your good name madam, You are married?” But for just £3.00 for a 30 minute journey who cares? Arrive at
the apartment that is strangely already home, everything looks so familiar. Yes, a new apartment but totally decked out with my furnishings, everything from my knives and forks to my four poster bed – a ready-made home. Just time to unpack and shower before being collected by Shoba for a delicious home-cooked south Indian dinner – sorry UK, the curry houses just don’t cut it! Rice and rasam and avial (vegetables in a coconut curry sauce) seconds coped with, Should have slowed down as Dadi (family matriarch) approached with thirds and to refuse is just not the done thing, especially asI am angling after a breakfast of dosa with gunpowder from her on Thursday morning.
Speaking of gunpowder, arriving the day after Diwali meant that Delhi is encased in a sheet of smog due to the amount of fire crackers which are still exploding 2 days later. However, all can be forgiven when driving around at night (again, already sourced a great taxi driver, (£11.00 for 40 minute journey, 4 hours waiting and then another 40 minute journey), and seeing all the houses lit up like a forest of Christmas Trees on speed. I get home to find my bed has been changed, black and red clean sheets on my four poster bed, it looks fabulously like a tarts boudoir!
Then there are the things one had forgetten, the street dogs’ incessant barking all night long, this is their revenge for being treated like vermin all day long, they certainly have the last laugh. This is interspersed with the security guard who patrols the compound an in a ridiculously hopeless attempt to keep the noise down, by blowing a whistle and smashing his stick against the metal railings, all night long! The irony is lost on him.
Just after dawn, as one is finally managing to drift off into a deep sleep, the birds start with their chorus, living right next to the ridge, one of the greenest areas in Delhi, their song is prolific. This is shortly followed by bursts of laughter, groups of people laughing, really? Then out of the slumber, I remember. People three times my age, actually, I feel much younger than I am, so perhaps just twice my age, have already been up, spent half an hour walking around the park and are now indulging themselves in a session of laughter yoga, what a fabulous start to the day, for them and for me. Delhi welcomes me home.