It has been over a year since I left behind the agony that was Chennai and returned to Delhi. Though the two cities are chalk and cheese, the one common denominator they both provide me with is the ability to seethe with anger. Why Chennai made me angry is a mystery I shall leave for my million-copies-selling book. Why Delhi makes me angry provides fodder for this ten-minute post.

Delhi has some of the best planners in the country residing and working in the capital, yet every morning sees the pedestrian daring the automobile owner to run him over and the automobile owner challenging the pedestrian to risk crossing him and escaping unscathed.  You have office complexes across the road from major metro stations, yet no one with the sense to place a foot over-bridge across a six-lane carriageway. You have a single pedestrian path, scarcely two metres wide; leading into metro stations that should cater to incessant footfall, leave alone provide separate access for ingress and egress. And then you have the quintessential couple that decides to saunter right ahead of you, ready to break into a love song at 8:30 on a Monday morning while you cuss and swear and consider taking your chances at getting off the footpath without having a truck mow you down.

You walk home every Tuesday evening when the weekly haat takes over a kilometre worth of road space right outside your home with absolutely no police intervention that can prevent the delinquency and thefts that occur. Of course, there is also no alternative traffic route suggested for that day, so you have man, car and cow struggling for space on the same road, while the vegetable hawker along the shoulder refuses to budge an inch. All while you patiently wait for Bittu and Tina to finish their Sporty Lamon Soda, so that they allow you the tiny space you need to walk into your lane.

We haven’t spoken of aunties the size of Third World countries, yet, have we? The same ones who eye that little space between you and the girl adjacent and then do the shifty dance with their bum while you splat into another human being. They choose to rather comfortably spend the journey half lodged on your left thigh, till you sigh, give up and relinquish your spot to them. In return, they extend to you a look of gratitude that clearly says, “Ha! I win!”

The icing on the cake(walk) that is my journey, of course, is the share autos and Grameen Sewa tempos that dot all of Delhi’s borders. Twice a day, I am made to truly feel like cattle when fifteen of us are herded into a space meant for nine while U.P’s auto drivers all oscillate between secretly giving in to Schumacher-like tendencies and emulating Rajnikanth. There is a complex hate-hate relationship that these transport providers have with the local police. One day you find them shaking hands and standing watch while you board or alight, another day the same guy informs you that these ‘illegal auto waale’ have been banished and you are left stranded at 8.00 p.m. at Delhi’s border with no way to get home.

But, all that stands apart from the loaded looks your kurta gets and the ‘mistaken’ brushes against your thigh, the way the autowallahs stand too close when they want to know where you want to go and the leering smiles they give you when your hand accidently touches theirs while handing them the ride’s fare.

If shooting dirty looks could kill, I’d be a happier Delhite.

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