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I Left My Heart in New Delhi: What I love about India’s capital, and why I look forward to living there

April 17, 2010

Yes; one possible explanation for this statement is very obvious… my fiance currently lives in New Delhi, and the very thought of returning to Delhi to be with him makes me just beam.

However, there is another reason, having to do less with my fiance, and more with the city itself.  In fact, before I had even met my fiance, I had already fallen in love with Delhi.

Delhi is a crazy city.  There is never a dull moment and there is always something to see or do, even if it’s simply watching the neighbor squabble with the sabzi-walla about the price of vegetables.  People are out on the street eating, working, and just generally loitering at all hours of the day and night.  And the traffic….oh, the traffic.

And yet, in the midst of what would seem to be complete chaos, I’ve found that the city can also have a certain air of calm….you just have to search for it.

Take Lodhi Gardens, for instance.  Lodhi Gardens is a beautiful 90-acre park, complete with rose gardens and 15th Century tombs, plopped down in the middle of South Delhi.  When I first discovered Lodhi Gardens, I felt like I had stumbled upon an oasis in the middle of the desert.  The park is also commendable for its preservation of the Lodhi Tombs, and the way in which it keeps Delhi’s history alive and integrated with the contemporary city’s pulse. (Delhi’s history, though not fully discussed here, is another thing I love about the city.)

Tomb at Lodhi Gardens

Tomb & Surrounding Greens at Lodhi Gardens

And Lodhi Gardens isn’t the only place to find some tranquility in Delhi.  Speckled throughout the city are countless parks, gardens, and monuments where you can clear your head, go for a stroll, and enjoy the scenery.

And, if in the summer the heat becomes unbearable and you can’t stand being outside in these lovely gardens any longer, then you can pop into a coffee shop or restaurant  in any of the city’s main shopping areas – likely no more than a fifteen-minute rickshaw ride away – to grab a cool drink and relax. (I usually prefer an iced mocha, although sometimes a nimbu pani – an Indian drink made with lemons, sugar, and water – really hits the spot.)

Ultimately, what I love about Delhi is the juxtaposition of elements that I’ve found there.  I love that I can go from being surrounded by people and traffic, to being removed from the hustle and bustle by taking a leisurely stroll in a park.  And then, whenever I feel like it, I can hop right back into the adventure that is life in Delhi (while maybe grabbing an iced coffee along the way.)

I love the entanglement of chaos and tranquility, tradition and modernity, beauty and (let’s face it… Delhi isn’t the cleanest of cities) filth,  and the way that they all come together in a city that I would be proud to call home.  Delhi keeps me on my toes.  It constantly reminds me of the full scope of the human experience.  And it keeps me engaged, interested, and reminds me that I’m alive.

For a great read on more of the sights, sounds, and smells of Delhi, check out Sam Miller’s book, Delhi: Adventures in a Megacity.

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