Wednesday, August 06, 2008

City Life - Defence Colony Dreams

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Defence Colony Dreams

Living a Happy India life in South Delhi.

[Pictures and text by Mayank Austen Soofi]

My address has changed. I'm now the Shah of the Jahan, the king of the world. I've moved from the wrong side of the Yamuna to the right side. From Lower East Side to the heart of upper crust Delhi. Such a long journey: from Anand Vihar to Defence Colony.

Def Col. The culmination of my dreams. So many times have I wistfully glanced at it from my Blueline window as the 543 would rumble down the smoggy Ring Road. Would the day ever come when I would live here? Nahi, how could that be possible?

There are only three Def Col types:
a) Your pa is rich, rich, rich
b) You have become a cricket star-turned-soft-drink-endorser
c) You are an expat from a shiny white land

I am none of these. But I was muqaddar ka sikandar. An expat friend living in C block had to urgently go 'back home' to US for a month and she requested, "I don't want to leave the house all abandoned. Can you please stay here?" (Jackpot!) "Er, yes, let me think about it. I suppose I could. That's what friends are for." (Excitement contained.)

Scene I: Defence Colony bungalow. Time: 6 am. My first day here. I'm alone in this big house. Each room has its own remote-controlled air-conditioner (there are six rooms). Imported books line the walls. Walls decked with paintings purchased from Paris, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco and Dilli Haat (Madhubani, of course). Recent issues of Vanity Fair in the magazine rack; Puccini and Britten fill up the CD rack. Proper shower curtain in the bathroom and white thick soft towels (bilkul 5-star hotel type) hanging behind the door. What luxury, yaara!

Now, follow me to the kitchen (I'm feeling like Laura Bush conducting a televised White House tour). Open the bumper-sized Samsung refrigerator. It's all Khan Market and INA inside: Dijon mustard (from France), Remia French salad dressing (from Holland), Pollis Olive Denocciolate (from Italy), DAK chopped ham (from Denmark) leeks, asparagus.

To add to these first-world luxuries, there's an English-speaking maid from Jharkhand who cooks everything from hummus to Thai green curry. Last night, she made pasta with cherry tomatoes and arugulas. ("Sir, please tell me what are you liking for tomorrow?")

Scene II: Outside in Defence Colony. Time: 6.30 am. Taking a walk. Ignoring barking dogs, security guards and construction labourers. Concentrating on the white bare arms of expat memsahibs as they lean on their bungalow balconies. So relaxed, so content.

It's true. People of south Delhi are happier than other Delhiwallas. Their trees are greener, their birds chirpier, their sky bluer, their air cleaner, their cars fancier. Theirs is a better world. I'm jealous.

Scene III: Bathroom. Time: 7 am. I fill the bathtub with warm water, take off my clothes and slowly step in. Ooh la la, this bathtub business is so relaxing. I close my eyes and breathe deeply. Yuck, I see my friend. She would return next month and I would have to leave for Anand Vihar. Then it will be back to bucket bath.

High dreams

Defence Colony Dreams

Ignore the 'servant class'

Defence Colony Dreams

...And their children too

Defence Colony Dreams

Laying foundation for one more dream

Defence Colony Dreams

Not all welcome in the club

Defence Colony Dreams


Neha said...

I love this! I'm very much like you. Every evening I go for a run through the upper side of Sydney and dream of life in those grand shiney homes.

I'm feeling very homesick these days and your blog has been such a comforter :) Every day I check your blog eagery waiting for a new story and fresh pictures of Delhi.

Thankyou so much.

elsavior said...

I haven't read much on your blog, but that post is by far the best I've read yet...very amusing.
Good on ya!

Anonymous said...

How can any reference to Defence Colony be complete without mentioning Defence Colony Market !
from : Kumar

Ajit said...

Mmmm, how does one react to this outpouring?

Should it be "Welcome to civilization!" or "South Delhi really is going to the dogs?" :-)

Anonymous said...

Well, South Delhi really has been of, for and by the dogs for a while now. It's just we're letting the pariah dogs in a bit too much now. From across the river! - wahegureu! How much longer before the neighbours' throats are slit?

Ajit said...

Anonymous, what a perfectly, er, catty remark!

VK said...

the term u used in the khan market post...the first world in third world...just got stuck in my head.

rest assured there are enuff thrd worlds in the first world too :)

Raluca said...

For me, the real luxury to dream to is the maid from Jharkhand. Cars, watches, thick towels, tv's-hifi's, moutarde are attainable, but having a cook in the house separe the commoners from the few chosen. Bucket bath and be happy!

Abdusalaam said...

Defence colony huh. I'll have to check this place out for myself.

Anonymous said...

Enlighten this Gora as to what
"muqaddar ka sikandar" means, please... (sikandar = "Alexander?")

And except for the fact that the water would have completely destroyed my constitution had I opened my mouth, I think "Indian Shower/Baths" are something that the rest of the planet needs to embrace.

"Anon's" comment about "How much longer before the neighbours' throats are slit?" brings to mind Dalrymples'descriptions of the horrors (committed on both sides) in 1857...

And that is shamefull in the 21st century... I am no apologist for the Angrez (sp?) as they are obviously the source of most of the troubled spots in the world today.

There are a few Goras who quite adore India, and wish it well. Think twice before you "slit our throats."


fatema said...

I used to live in Defence Colony A-81 from 1992-98,the most amazing years of my life.your post has made me prity home sick, although i dont think i can say HOME any more.We used to make a great population of Iranians there. Please send my regards to each and every sabzivali , dookanvali u see in A block since they were all good friends of mine.

Debe said...

Great blog...made me think of my 10months in Def Col in ´07...neha u are not the only one who reads this blog to see fresh pic of Delhi:)...the best city in the world and DEFCOL for sure the best neighborhood...Thank you!