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Kitschy metro-less memories

delhi Updated: Jul 14, 2010 01:33 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times
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The face of Delhi is changing. With a world-class Metro service, the T3 airport terminal, numerous malls and flyovers, one wonders what was great about this city some ten years ago.

Anybody visiting Delhi after a decade will be in for a shock. After all, what did this metropolis boast of then, apart from the suffocating Bluelines and the crowded Karol Baghs.

HT City asked a few ex-Delhiwallas, who lived in the pre-Metro Capital, what they miss about that old city.

Patrick McDonald (lived in Delhi for three years, now in Helsinki)
I miss saying hello to the barber who set up shop outside my apartment near Mandi House. I miss having clothing altered for $1. I miss the kebabs. I miss driving down the Rajpath towards the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

I miss being treated like any other rider of DTC buses. I miss the chikoos. I miss shopping in Bengali Market. I miss swimming outside the year round. I miss that feeling of accomplishing something big by accomplishing something little.

I miss the fact that I actually enjoyed living in Central Delhi rather than South Delhi.

Neha Khare (A Delhiwalla who now lives in Chicago)
I miss the servants.

Sarah Hine (lived in Delhi for 11 months and now back in NYC)
I’m somewhat ashamed to admit it but I miss being treated well. I’m ashamed to admit this because I think this royal treatment comes, at least partly, due to my white skin.

As I fumble for proper change in Grand Central Station in New York City (seriously, I don’t recognise nickels and dimes as quickly as I used to), I sense the cashier’s impatience.

I realise that most businesses I patronised in Delhi were extremely patient with me whereas here, I’m just another American.

Heneretta Orson (lived here for three years, now in Dublin)
I miss the abuses that ring in your ear wherever are in Delhi, and the opportunity to hurl just about anything back at anyone without them cocking an eyebrow. I’d probably not miss the trail of fans that follows me everywhere, especially the scrubby males.

Rachna Vaidhyanathan (lived for 25 years in Delhi, now studying in New York City)
I miss having no rights as a pedestrian.

Raymond Lee (lived in the Capital for fours years; now lives in New York City)
I miss the songs on the radio reflecting my mood even though I don’t understand them. I miss the bad art that sells for crores. I miss giving people a kiss on each cheek. I miss all the awful techno and snooty clubs.

Craig (stayed in Delhi for a year; now in Buffallo, US)
I miss Delhi’s monuments and I yearn for the monuments and I miss the monuments some more and I think of the monuments all the time and I miss the monuments and beside the monuments I miss the monuments and of course, the monuments, too.