Yes! I'm back in Delhi after such a long time that it hurts being here. What passed for normal in bygone eras isn't anymore! (right, I'm being slightly melodramatic here, bear with me okay?) Sure, things change and all that - but its so interesting to see how your perspective does too.
Three days into my stay, I think I'm settling in very well. I've bought myself Orhan Pamuk's "My name is Red" and so far, reading it has been a lovely experience. My favorite part of the day - to read or otherwise - has always been the late afternoon - a time when the Spanish take their siestas, and most people in India tend to nap as well. I could never stand sleeping though - the sun's rays are just perfect, not too bright, not too dull, and there's a certain something in the air which make me really relaxed. Soporific, even. And if you're sitting next to a garden or trees - chirping birds just add to the atmosphere.
(Hmm, I just thought I'd ask a friend about what she thinks is her favorite part of the day - and surprise surprise, she'd never even given it any thought before :))
Another stark difference I've felt here is the sounds and smells you encounter in India, something which the very spartan and organized west (ok, maybe just the US) doesn't have. As I type this, I can hear a host of sounds, all amalgamated into a low roar which just creeps subliminally into your consciousness. If I try and really listen to it, I can hear the distant sounds of traffic as they filter in through a group of trees outside; a rickshaw seller hawking his kulfi ice cream; heck, i can even hear a group of women singing wedding songs, complete with a Dhol; barking dogs, children playing cricket, someone talking on a mobile phone far away...
And then there are the very unique smells which I've really missed - gulmohar trees, eucalyptus, the slightly smoky smell of a dense fog which hovers over the treetops; open wood fires used by road construction workers to cook rustic food - the occasional pungence of frying garlic, or the earthy aromas of roasting rotis! there's also, atleast in parts of the city where I live, stacks of freshly cut grass from the various lawns and gardens in the vicinity - a slight breeze just wafts the smell from these into the already heady mix; and the occasional cigarette smoke, as someone near by steps out for a break before heading home, or back indoors to finish whatever it was they got tired of.
Of course, the traffic here's gone to the dogs. What was merely chaotic before is now a battle for life and limb - literally too, if you've been following the recent episodes of how blue line buses in Delhi have caused the deaths of almost a hundred people in the last few months. Road quality seems to have improved, as has the quality of air in the city. There are far more cars on the streets; shopping centers have been elevated from being mere grocery stores and odds-n-end shops, to high end luxury brands which cater to an exclusive set of the rich and famous. Heck, I've noticed that the price of goods is proportional to the part of the city you buy them from!
Guess capitalism has a new address. And its definitely the heart of New Delhi, for now.