Okay, so now you’ve moved to Delhi, found a house/job/college and are ready to ‘live’, but you’re scared because the city is new, people are new and you don’t understand how to deal with it!
Delhi, the capital, one of the most populated cities in the world, is the city of dreams. It is the city people go to, to find a new life, a new home, making it one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse cities in the whole world. Yet, with its fast moving lifestyle, Delhi can become astonishingly cold, alienating and hard to live in. Delhi can eat you up and spit you out before you can say ‘Chawri Bazaar’. BUT. With a little help and an open mind you can find ways to penetrate the hard looking shell of the city and find solace in the city that accepts everyone.
Fast pace lifestyle
Delhi can be a huge cultural shock, especially for people from towns and small cities. Delhi culture at least initially seems a little alien and unfathomable. It will seem like the people are living in a made-up world of their own and are oblivious to the woes of the entire country. You may feel that you’re not able to keep up with the people and their short attention span.
What not to do: Jugde people. We are all humans, flawed and full of desire, which is why everyone you meet will have different expectations from you and from the world. Alienate yourself. Do not ignore people or cut people out because of their habits, habits don’t define people.
What to do: Be accepting because no matter where you go you’ll always have a difference of opinion with people. Try to find common ground, it is fine if you don’t want to go for “drinks later” but maybe you can go for coffee once in a while. Understand that people will remain the same, just try to find ones who are similar to you.
Metro and public transport
Delhi’s metro is hailed as a miraculous transportation system. Spread wide across the entire NCR, the Delhi metro is one of the most used modes of transportation, experiencing the footfall of millions of people everyday. Albeit being very well connected through its public transportation, for a newbie, travelling in Delhi is pretty troublesome.
What not to do: Blindly agree to the prices your rickshaw/auto driver tells you. Haggle instead. Going to the metro and thinking it would be a smooth ride is also a blunder. Remember travelling through Delhi is a constant fight, where if you are even a second late you won’t reach your destination on time. Do NOT stand near the gates of the metro or you’ll be swooped in and out with the crowds.
What to do: Haggle with your rickshaw driver, ask him where he’s from, hear his life-story and have a smooth ride or download apps like Jugnoo and Uber. Buy a Smart Card for metro and use it for your travels, instead of standing in long queues to buy your token. Be very cautious of your belongings in the metro and always remain ready to fight your way in or out out it. Get accustomed to crowds.
People of Delhi though friendly and accepting will seem like the most self-involved people in the world. When you live in a city like Delhi, so ripe with opportunities yet so full of people fighting for them, a little self-obsession creeps in. Which in the beginning can seem a little too much to deal with.
What not to do: Trust someone blindly. Never. Let me be clear, never trust someone completely, no matter which city, which country you live in. Yet, do not doubt every single person, not everyone is after your life.
What to do: Be friendly and kind to people yet be assertive of your needs and expectations. You need to make it clear that though you are a nice person, you won’t be taken for granted. Make your motives plain and judge people based solely on their actions and not words.
Everything in Delhi is expensive, from houses to breathing, you have to pay a price for everything. Everything except food. If you know the right places in Delhi you can have more than your fill and never be disappointed with food.
What not to do: Don’t waste money at high-end restaurants to show off. Don’t buy random street food from random vendors everyday unless you have a very strong stomach and don’t think that eating out will save you a buck.
What to do: Cook at home or go to your regular street food market once in a while. Find vendors that sell fruit chat, sprouts and salad, make it a habit to eat there. Delhi has a very good culture of healthy eating, find local tiffin walas and restaurants that deliver healthy and yummy food. Make a food budget and stick to it.
Okay, so before you move to Delhi chant “Delhi is the second most polluted city in the world” like a mantra and steel yourself to the fact that you will have to deal with pollution everywhere. It is obvious, is it not? That with a population as huge as it has, everything about Delhi would be polluted, the water, the land and the air.
What not to do: Smoke, because you’re already inhaling 44 cigarettes worth of toxins. Drive everywhere, because most of the pollution in Delhi is vehicular.
What to do: Buy a good quality mask and wear it where-ever and when-ever you travel. Use a bicycle or walk for short distances or use the metro system for longer commutes. Invest in some air cleansing indoor plants like the spider plant or the peace lily. Run to the hills every weekend like a true Delhiite.
Ok. Literally caution ahead! “Dilli se hu B#*# *@#* ” is not a phrase people use lovingly. It is a literal warning of what to expect. People from Delhi because of the lifestyle have come to accept crassness to be a pre-requisite, they do not consider their language abusive instead they find it endearing.
What not to do: Pick a fight with someone because of the way they talked to you. Talk to someone in the same or worse tone, because people can identify when you’re being rude. Feel hurt because of a remark someone made because people don’t generally mean to hurt you.
What to do: Talk to people politely and if they are crass ask them NICELY to be a little considerate while talking to you. Do not mind if someone goes a little overboard and starts abusing in front of you (as long as you’re not involved in the conversation), God has given you two ears for a reason. Utilize them. Let people know if you’re uncomfortable with the language they use.
And after you’ve accepted everything and spent a little more time in Delhi and had a little bit of ‘daulat ki chaat’ you’ll come to love the city with all your heart. Though you might never feel like Delhi is your true home you’ll find that Delhi will always have a space for you in its heart, with its arms wide open Delhi will always accept you even if no-one in the world does!