The scorching heat in Delhi can get to you faster than a lightning bolt if you are not paying attention and hydrating yourself. If you are a first timer here then this process can get harder while you are looking for directions.
I could not wait to get out of the train that was already late by three hours. I had but a matter of a few hours to spend in Delhi on my first visit there. Before I had to catch an overnight bus to the mountains that night. This had been the longest solo trip of mine yet. A two night long trip from Bangalore had killed my phone and any trace amount of freshness that could be retained with mere deodorants.
What I wanted now was to deposit my big box of camera equipment in a locker. Charge my phone to make 3 maybe 4 calls. See the India Gate and get a beer and some filling quantities of food before it gets too late to get back to the station, pick up my big box and head to the bus station at the other end of the city.
In all this jam packed list of things I had to do. My number one priority was the India Gate. Watching it every year religiously at the Republic Day parade had never been enough for me. I was this close to it. I picked up a rickshaw that would take me there. It was one of those pre-booked rickshaws where the fare was already discussed. For matters of convenience to the driver, two of us with separate destinations were allotted one rickshaw.
The passenger along with me was from my parents’ hometown and it had to be pure coincidence. We struck up a conversation in our native language. The auto driver who had no clear grasp over our language still managed to understand the basics. He got to know that I was here for the first time and that the other guy was a regular to Delhi. He obviously knew we had one too many things in common. Before we could know it, all three of us are in deep conversation about the environment, politics and even choosing wives.
Almost reaching my destination, the driver, summarized our conversation, our little trip, and made a suggestion to the co-passenger about dropping me closer to my destination that previously agreed upon. This would delay both of them by quite some bit. I was surprised that a person with whom I have more in common did not think of this and a complete stranger thought of this. Heck, I did not think of asking this myself.
They politely agreed and dropped me off at a spot where the rickshaw shouldn’t ideally be spending too much time halting. I don’t think I had enough time to thank them enough before the vehicles behind us started honking and the driver made way, waving me goodbye. Leaving me staring at the magnificent India Gate, an ocean of emotions gushing in.
I have a problem with remembering names, for this one time I wish I didn’t. I want to think these two strangers. Probably the most remembered strangers in all my journeys. I hope to recognize you if I ever spotted you some place and thank you in person.
Also, thanks to small-town girls midnight trains for refreshing this memory in your post.
Never Too Late