I live here

In the interest of simplifying my life, in which my time in India has greatly helped, both materially and mentally, the titular statement has come to define my attitude towards living here. While I am still decidedly a foreigner, as the autowallahs kindly remind me every morning and see myself as an outside based on the opinions I hold and experiences I have here, I have assumed a certain amount of ownership of this city and especially my home. When I talk of Delhi nowadays, the same problems that bothered me in the beginning are still here and I notice them still, but I no longer talk about the city as a foreign entity that I don’t belong to. Though I am not a citizen and never will be, nor do I foresee myself living here for an extended period of time, this city, at least for the time being, is now where I live and by association what I identify myself with. It’s not my favorite city, nor will it ever be, but I live here, meaning I’ve accumulated experiences, good and bad, some friends, temporary or permanent and seen sights, both good and bad. Those experiences have always, no matter where I’ve been, contributed to a feeling of ownership. I get very loyal, for better or for worse to long-term engagements. This may reflect a misplaced sense of feeling a need to belong or accepting things too readily as they are, but either way, they have, even in Delhi’s case, led to me identifying myself as a Delhiite, at least for the duration of this fellowship. No matter where I travel to, the sense of familiarity that floods me every time I enter Malviya Nagar again, even though there are much better neighborhoods to live in, is extremely powerful and makes me feel at home every time.

What next then? I anticipate the city becoming less and less bothersome to me personally at least, although repeated incidents of eve-teasing of my friends will always get me roiling with heat. Furthermore, my goal at the end of the fellowship is to know this city, as inside and out as possible. I have already explored many of the sights and as the advertisements around the bus-stops proclaim, the food here is Delhicious. Finally, thanks to some Hindi classes (at last), I anticipate engaging with the city’s residents much more. Whether it’s a few words with the momowallah who I see almost every day or engaging with my landlord’s kids, language is the key to feeling even more at home, even if it’s only to catch when people are talking about the pale giant striding through the market. Either way, I will be seeing as much of Delhi as I can and talking or reading as much as I can, because I live here.

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