First of all, I want to thank all of you guys for the overwhelming response. It was a real breather from the rigorous shooting and city-hopping I’ve been involved in for the past few weeks.
This week, I thought I’d talk about something synonymous with Delhi, the city I grew up in, and Mumbai, the city where I work — how they use jugaad. After all, who in Delhi hasn’t heard the phrase, “Abe, mein so-and-so ko jaanta hoon” or “Tujhe pata hai mein kiska bhai hoon?”
Mumbai and Delhi are poles apart when it comes to applying the jugaadu skills. Unlike Delhi, where everyone knows everyone, Mumbai is different... perhaps, faster. When I wanted to date a girl in Delhi, it was a problem for her to step out at night. I would drive to her house in Sainik Farms, follow her car to the nightclub and then follow her car from there to her house. Just to make sure she was safe.
In Mumbai, when I would say to a girl after a party, ‘Hey, I’ll drop you,” She’d say ‘No, I’ll manage, thanks.’ I would still insist on dropping her, thinking how she can go alone? She on the other hand, would think that I am a psycho, stalker!!
Delhi, as I know it, is a city of solutions. But that’s not something I was always familiar with. When my family shifted base to the Capital from Samba in Jammu & Kashmir, I used to be so lost that I had trouble even finding my own bus to school everyday.
It was a whole new world — from a school with 350 students in all to one that had that number in every batch.
Things got easier as my brother and I learnt that in order to survive here, one must learn the fine art of jugaad. Whether it’s getting out of a sticky situation or getting in on the cool ones, nothing is impossible as long as you know the right people… or claim to know them!
Avoiding challans after jumping a traffic signal is one place where this ‘art’ is especially useful — although I admit that the Delhi Police are now smart enough to call your bluff. I still remember trying to get the cops off my back by pretending to be related to some make-believe senior cop or faking an accent that would make me look like a badass when I would get hauled over while riding my granddad’s scooter. “Tujhe pata hai... mera chacha thaane ke char chakkar kaat chuka hai,” I would say, trying to sound intimidating.
I recall that if a guy ever stared at the girls in our group, they would show him ‘the finger’ or abuse him. The guy wouldn’t say a word to the girl, but would call me and say, “Oye! Chikne, shaana ban raha hai,” and I’d be like, ‘What did I do? She showed the finger.’ Then, I would make frantic calls to friends asking them if they knew someone in the ilaaka.
Schooling in Delhi was full of such instances. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had to tackle some huge guy who would threaten to beat me up if I didn’t stop dating some girl his friend liked. “Abe, naam kya hai uska? Baat karna chhod de uss se. Mere Pingu ko pasand hai woh,” he would say.
I’ve learnt that it’s not what you know, but who you know that ultimately matters. So, thank you Delhi for teaching me to be street smart, or as us desis call it, kaandi.