When I was a kid, I used to watch The Lion King every week, without fail. It became so much of an obsession that I realized one day that I had learned the dialogues by heart and could repeat them word for word. (For instance, the opening line of the movie is, “Life’s not fair, isn’t it?” said by Scar, as he catches a little mouse for dinner.)
The movie had so much of an impact on me that I began associating things I saw in it to things I saw in real life. After a 9-month ordeal in New Delhi in 2009-10, I associated the city with the Elephant Graveyard in The Lion King – a dreaded place where no one went, and a place of evil where no one was ever happy. My time in New Delhi was the worst 9 months of my life. I haven’t been more miserable ever. So, once I returned back to normalcy and battled depressions and won, I vowed never to go back there again. Ever. But fate, it seemed, had a few ironies up its sleeve.
Mansi hails from Gurgaon, Haryana – an integral part of the Delhi-NCR, and when she insisted that I accompany her to Delhi, I was very hesitant. She convinced me that she was going to make me see the place through her happy goggles, and was very confident that I’d like the trip. Well, given that I am in love with her and have decided to spend the rest of my life traveling with her, I decided to face my fear and visit the Elephant Graveyard with her. And I was so glad I did, because she not only made me see Delhi in a whole new light, she even made me admit that I had fun on the trip.
We spent half our time in Gurgaon, meeting her old friends and revisiting her old haunts. A lovely breakfast at Sakley’s in Galleria set the tone for a lovely weekend. We went visiting the famous Delhi Haat, where we spent a very satisfying evening eating street food from all around the country and window shopping for colorful, over-priced junk. A highlight of the trip was the visit to the world-renowned flea market at Sarojini Nagar, where Mansi found a treasure trove of Desigual clothes and we spent all of our trip’s budgets shopping for clothes, shoes and other things.
We stayed at Mansi’s parents’ house in Gurgaon and I immediately made her mom, dad and elder brother fall hopelessly in love with me through my charm and my south Indian cooking skills. The sambhar I cooked for lunch, I am told, was finger-licking good.
The trip also coincided with the birthday of one of Mansi’s closest friends – Joanna. We dropped in on her birthday party, surprised the living daylights out of her and spent a very nice evening catching up and socializing with her old friends. I really did have a wonderful trip, and I never thought I’d say this, but Delhi isn’t so bad. True, I kept spotting rapists everywhere, but I guess that’s the charm of living in a nation’s capital. Whatever that means.
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