On my first evening here, I was walking around CP with a friend, and I remember looking around the Inner Circle and telling him I really, really liked this place. Later, as we walked to get some dinner, I voiced what I have known all this time.
I love this city an irrational amount. It doesn't make sense to me how passionately I feel about it - and honestly, I have stopped trying to look for reasons. I love it - what else is there to say?
I came back to Delhi after three years. Less than three years, actually, but my last two visits didn't really qualify as visits - I barely got to spend any time with the city. The last time I was here, I broke my heart in more ways than one. There was even a phase, somewhere between then and now, when I had given up on being able to return. Not stopped loving Delhi - never stopped loving Delhi - but begun to despair about the chance to come back.
In the last three years, I have spent a lot of time in several other cities, mostly Mumbai and Kolkata. They're beautiful places. Kolkata is steeped in culture and old-world charm, and Mumbai is historically beautiful - if you get what I mean - and breathtakingly modern at the same time. Kolkata is like a tattered, dog-eared book of verses, with notes in the margins of its pages. Mumbai is all bright lights, curving flyovers and expressways and feisty sea. It's a lot like the bhelpuri served on its streets and its beaches - a little bit of everything, bright, colourful, tangy and full of surprises. And between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., it is nothing short of seductive.
But Delhi...oh, Delhi.
I slip into its warm, teasing embrace without knowing it. I don't know what to make of its sights and sounds and colours and moods - I know them with the intimacy that only incontrovertible love can bring, and they still awe and inspire me. Delhi makes me happy. Yes, Delhi is poetry and madness and passion and love and identity and challenge to me - but it makes me happy the way nothing else ever has. Happy, plain and simple. I realise now that when I left Delhi in 2010, I left a little bit of myself behind - and it wasn't intentional. When is it ever? Delhi is where I found myself. They say falling in love makes you learn as much about yourself as about the other person. True, I think. I learned about Delhi and myself in equal measure. I unconsciously imbibed some of its traits. It made me a stronger person, it taught me never to be afraid to express myself. Above all, Delhi taught me to dream, to have bright, absurd ideas, and to believe that anything, anything is possible. It taught me to love uninhibitedly and passionately, it taught me to love without fearing rejection and pain - because it taught me that you can move past those things in time. It taught me to be honest, fearless and impulsive. I turned into me, here. And Delhi loved me back. So when I moved out, I found some part of me missing, and I knew that Delhi had claimed some of me for good. I didn't bother claiming it back. I didn't want to. I wanted some of me to stay here.
And that is why I keep returning here. All the time, emotionally. As often as I can manage it, physically. I'm complete here. Delhi also taught me to go with the flow - and I have no clue where the flow is headed with me. It doesn't matter, though. There's some of me here, and even if the rest of me becomes untraceable, I'll know where to come back and graft myself a new soul.