"So when does this new course (in Delhi) start?"
"By the beginning of next month, dad."
"Hmmmm... and you really aren't satisfied with the quality of your coaching classes here?"
"Puleeeze... I mean he knows a lot, but he hardly comes to class, and most of the time spends his teaching hours dictating from DD Basu's "Introduction to the Constitution of India" with no real explanation as such..."
So there I was booking my flight ticket to Delhi for my UPSC coaching classes last week. It was a very sudden plan. I didn't even have the time to tell anybody about it. I chose a date that would be most suitable for my friends in Delhi to pick me up from the Airport. The date was 20th April.
20th April happened to be a Friday, a day when all my friends would be free from the shackles of their next-day-office bondage. 20th April also happened to be the eve of my Birthday *grin* .
With just 2-3 days available for preparation, everything was hush-hush-ed. I packed my stuff quietly and left sweet ol’ Mizoram without a trace. I didn’t even have the time to inform any of my friends about my decision. On the direct flight from Aizawl to Delhi, “father_sphinx” happened to be on the same flight! Hence with the two of us leaving Mizoram, not a single editor of the popular Mizo site misual.com is now currently residing in Mizoram. Ironic huh? .
Landed at Delhi an hour away from my sweet birth anniversary. Perfect! The journey then onwards was not so smooth. First bump on the road: There was not a single PCO booth (functioning properly) inside the arrival lounge! Hence I couldn’t contact Amol who was supposed to pick me up at the Airport. Took a gamble and wheeled my luggage outside the Airport in the hope that there might be a local-call Booth outside the Terminal. There were two. Hence came the second bump on the road (A pretty nasty bump if I may elaborate): I called up Amol who was already there at the Airport and told him of my whereabouts and made another short (less than 20secs) local call; I was charged 40 bucks by the phone booth operator! Even though I have reformed and no longer have any desire to lead the life I once led, due to force of (past) habit, I couldn’t help uttering “WTF” in my head.
This was a pure case of tube-light robbery! 40 bucks for two short local calls! At first I thought the dude was just trying to rip me off because of my facial feature. But as I stood there arguing with the owner I observed the other people (non-mongoloids, read : typical Indian facial feature) actually pay 10 bucks for a local call! Both the booth owners had only notes of 10 bucks in their hands. And then Amol appeared on the scene and when I told him about the royal swindle, he bargained with the owner (or should I say pleaded?) in hindi and finally I got to pay just 20 bucks. Still, 20 bucks for 2 short local calls?????
Then Amol told me that sometimes it’s best not to argue with such people because they could create a lot of “problems”, and with a medical bill that could rise to more than Rs.5000 and probably a court case and my birthday party in a few more minutes, it was definitely not worth getting beaten up by the local goons (who are obviously in cahoots with the cops) over a mere 20-40 bucks. I couldn’t believe it. Hardly 10 minutes in Delhi and my dignity already got raped!
And yes, the two phone booths ran by those two swindling rotten-faced scoundrels right outside the Airport terminal are both Airtel Phone Booths. Kudos, Mister Sunil Bharti Mittal.
All my life, I’ve been only in South India. I can truly call Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, Coimbatore, Mumbai and Cochin as my secondary home. I love South India. Most of my closest friends right from Primary School to Master’s degree College had all been South Indians, although I did have a couple of dear North Indian friends here and there too. And although I don’t mean to stereotype, I have indeed heard a lot of “stories” about North India and North Indians, in particular Delhiites. This is ofcourse not in reference to all the good people of Delhi and addressed only to the anti-social few. Hence I was indeed prepared, both mentally and physically, to face any thefts/ dacoity/ racial abuses/ ethnic slurs. I guess I just wasn’t prepared to face a 40 bucks rip-off immediately the moment I landed.
Anyway, having learnt a good lesson, Amol took me to Jaypee Vasant Continental next to Priya Complex for my birthday (dinner) party. Met the others there… it sure felt good to see everybody again, especially her. After we sat inside “Eggspectation” the Resto-Café, the clock struck 12. Happy Birthday to me, yay.!
I did have a small glass of beer to celebrate the occasion, just so as not to make my friends feel uncomfortable. That small glass funnily made me feel a bit tipsy because I haven’t touched alcohol in more than 5 months now since my born-again experience, while I used to down a full bottle of old Monk Rum at one shot before! Now I no longer have the desire or urge to get drunk again even after that one glass of beer, Praise be the Lord.
I couldn’t help laughing at the way I am spending my birthday now and they way I used to spend them for the past 7-8 years. Those other times, my B’day parties always involved unlimited booze, inebriated caterwauling, mithun-ishtyle disco dancing, intoxicated arm wrestling, and ending the night (morning) with a deep passing out, welcoming the first day of my new year with a head throbbing hangover. Last week’s celebration was so so so so much cleaner and at the same time so much more fun. I’ve never laughed out that much taking each other’s trips in such a long long time.
Nearly a week now in Delhi. It’s not as hot as people warned me about, although the actual heat wave is yet to come. The place where I’m staying for the time being until I find my own pad is very cool compared to many other houses I already visited. Although I haven’t actually gone out that much, I really am starting to like Delhi. Neighbors and shopkeepers nearby are a bunch of extremely nice people. My roomies here tell me that the actual racial abuses and other notorieties depend upon the location/locality, and residential areas such as this are usually a safe haven for “outsiders”.
Cool. So my blogging will continue on a part time basis when I take a small break now and then from my study grind, so please do continue visiting my blog. I took a new mobile connection yesterday, and yes, it was obviously not Airtel.