Friday, April 20, 2012

Discovering Mom's City

New Delhi is a very special city. I was born here and for a good chunk of my life knew little else outside of the circular paths leading in and out of its heart. How do you interpret these experiences for your child whose realm of reality is so different? In many ways, Delhi appears strange to me after so many years of living away, but there will always be an umbilical connection. I didn't want this to be just another day of sightseeing around a new city for Talinn, I wanted him to love Delhi the way I do. It's a challenge when you have so little time, but I think we may have created a few special memories with him.
Janpath is a staple favorite that mom and I would always explore together on Saturdays and other holidays. We'd hunt around for trendy bargains in clothing, books, shoes, and then top off the afternoon with a cold coffee and snack at D'Pauls. From Secret Sevens, Famous Fives, Nancy Drews to Sidney Sheldons and beyond, peddle pushers to dungarees to oxidized silver jewelry - from a kid to a teenager - I remember scouting these same ramshackle stalls for all kinds of treasure. Nothing has changed. Neither the shops nor my enthusiasm to scout for new loot.
A pea of the same pod, Talinn joined us on our favorite expedition with equal enthusiasm. Heat no bar, he wrapped his head in a scarf and immersed himself completely. Shopping for kolhapuris and morjaris at Janpath is a tradition that dates back from my mom's college days in the 1960s. We sat down for some family foot indulgence. Talinn was in shoe heaven, picking out the sparkliest, princeliest shoes for himself.
India is filled with new experiences. The finger bowl at the restaurant fascinated Talinn as much as the novelty of sitting in the front seat of a car with no car seat!

And what visit to a capital city can be complete without saying hello to the rulers. We drove up the majestic Rajpath leading up to the President's house - Rashtrapati Bhavan, flanked by the ever-gorgeous red secretariat buildings and the perfectly circular parliament house. Lutyens' Delhi is still as magnificent as ever and nowhere more so than the drive down Rajpath towards the stunning India Gate. Ever seen the Beating of the Retreat, now that will truly blow you away.
Since I was a little girl maybe three or four years old, my dad would take me to Children's Park near India Gate every Sunday afternoon. It was a tradition; our own special bonding time without mom. I wasn't even sure if the park was still around but what do you know, it sure was! So here we were recreating a cherished childhood tradition. 

In those days, the Children's Park was a super fancy place with rides unlike any other in the local neighborhood parks or even at school. A few decades later, it seemed so antiquated with rusting iron "equipment" crying out for fresh paint and repairs. But for Talinn, it was still a wonderland and he wanted to try out everything, just like me thirty years ago. 

Another memory of Children's Park is of getting lost. I believe I walked away to "explore" the park while my dad panicked until someone found me and reunited us.

I wasn't quite done with my trip down memory lane. Last stop that day was our old house and neighborhood where I was born and spent all my years in India. After all these years, it seemed like another world quite different from the place of my memories. Either time wreaks havoc on places or our memories get rosier than reality with the passing years. My emotions were a mixture of disbelief and nostalgia. But overall I was so happy to share this day with my Talinn.

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