Every city, just like an individual, has a personality of its own. So too does Delhi, the one city where everyone wants to move for education, job opportunities, (the assumed) better quality of life, status, retirement, power, wealth, medical treatment and a host of other personal and environmental reasons. At the same time, a large section of the population comes in just because everyone else is. Like the line from a popular song, “you can check out but you can never leave,” the city inlet seems to have a one-way valve.

Despite all its zaniness, chaos and foibles, the nation’s capital has distinct characteristics that set it apart from the rest. And how do you recognise the capital? Let’s help you decipher the cryptic codes. It’s unmistakably Delhi when…

Photo Credits: Delhi Gate: Sup Delhi
Photo Credits: India Gate: Goibibo

You come across all manner of gates—India Gate, Delhi Gate, Kashmeri Gate, Colony Gate, Cholla Gate and sundry others—and yet are unable to pass through them. Fittingly, what’s in a name and all that Shakespearean jazz.

Photo Credits: ED Times
Photo Credits: YouTube

Tihar Jail is part of the hospitality industry. You come, you enjoy the amenities, all bespoke.

There are more patients than hospitals, more students than schools, more malls and cars than people, and more people out on the street than at places of work. Basically, there’s just too many folks fiddling around with more things than they need.

Which cardinal direction of the city you live in indicates your status, personality and position. Oh yes, GPS acquires a whole new meaning in Delhi’s vocabulary.

The sharpest, funniest and wittiest graffiti is usually painted where it shouldn’t be in the first place: On a heritage monument.

You see a man merrily relieving himself on the outside walls of a FREE public convenience (besides anywhere and everywhere else, Swachchh Bharat be damned. We are like this only.).

Public parks are used for ‘private’ romances, that too in unimaginable, jaw-dropping positions. For all his fancy-shmancy acrobatic ideas, Vatsyayana must surely have been a Delhi boy.

The traffic policeman hides in ambush behind the blooming bougainvillea…on the other side of the traffic signal.

People don’t need to sprawl themselves across railway tracks to die; the exact same result can be achieved by not steering clear of the zooming city buses and notoriously speeding BMWs.

Photo Credits: BookMyShow
Photo Credits: YouTube

Sports stadia are meant for rock concerts and political rallies, while narrow alleys are the place where sports activities requiring huge grounds take place.

Industrial waste, sewage and toxins are recklessly poured into the Yamuna but wire grilles are put on bridges to prevent people from throwing prayer flowers into the river.

Residential colonies have become markets and commercial complexes are being used for living.

Money enough to buy a BMW is spent by the owner on his Maruti Alto in an ambitious attempt to ‘pimp his ride’.

Being rich isn’t enough, looking it is more important (even if Gucci, Chanel, Versace are grossly mispronounced).

Neighbours don’t know each other. By choice.

Photo Credits: Shabari Ads
Photo Credits: Justdial

‘Speed Breaker Ahead’ sign is normally posted ahead of the speed breaker…to tell you why you are airborne.

The cop is scarier than the mob.

Your pigeonhole home has running water; it runs on the four wheels of a paid water tanker.

Your missing car is either stolen or towed away, both meaning pretty much the same thing.

Night life starts only the morning after.

Missing a turn means travelling another 10 km.

During a ‘yellow’ traffic light, no rules apply; it’s free for all.

‘Meters’ in auto rickshaws are in lieu of footrests. Fare is decided by the winner of the pre-ride fist fight.

You put your right hand out and then turn left.

Car-pools are for fools.

Uninterrupted power supply comes from inverters/generators for domestic use and through illegal tapping for commercial use.

Most official bungalows are converted into memorials of past leaders while most existing leaders are older than the bungalows. Laws, like promises, are meant to be broken, see?

Encroachment is legal and legit.

Overtaking from the left is normal; from the right, humanly impossible.

Cows and bulls cannot be challaned but you surely will be.

Tourist guide maps get outdated overnight.

The person you stop to ask for directions will invariably be an outsider as well.

Page 3 is actually the ‘Front Page’ erroneously located elsewhere.

Corners of stairways and rooms are meant for downloading what was once a paan, 8,000 chews back.

All ‘local’ tourists are from Bengal, nurses from Kerala, maids and rickshaw pullers from Bangladesh.

Photo Credits: BBC
Photo Credits: my.fakingnews.com

The ‘natural’ color of vegetables and fruits comes from toxic paint applied on them.

Everyday appears to be a national holiday (more so on sunny winter days around government offices).

The ‘high capacity’ bus system is designed to make existing roads turn into ‘low capacity’.

Should the rain gods feel generous with their bounty, your car will turn into a submarine during the monsoons.

A VIP car with or without a red light or blue beacon has the right of way.

Noise-polluting all-night jaagrans are permitted but all-night discos and night clubs are not.

The airport is far from the city so as to be closer to the planes.

Every second road, park, institution and setup is named after the Gandhi family (okay, we agree that was a no-brainer).

Getting lost is only a state of mind.

There, you have it: Delhi in all its grit, guts and glory. It’s easy enough to fit right in when you know the rules of the game. All we have to conclude with is, don’t say you weren’t warned!

Photo credits: Banner Left: Orias UC Berkeley; Banner Center: Delhipedia; Banner Right: D for Delhi