Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Story of My Moving to Delhi and Why I Never Talked About It

When on the morning of June 12th, 2008 I stepped down from the Bhubaneswar Rajdhani Express on Platform #16 of New Delhi Railway Station, I had no clue that I was going to make this city my home for at least the next 7 years. This is the story of how and why I moved to Delhi, what happened in the initial two years here, why I have never spoken about it before to anyone, beyond a certain point and why this is a story too close to my heart.

A day after reaching Delhi, my first blog entry came up. This was going to be an interesting journey but I had no clue right then.

So moving to Delhi had been in plans for almost a year. I was aiming for that 95% in the Boards and getting admission at DPS RK Puram. It had become my dream school. Eventually, I didn’t breach the 95% target and lost the DPS RKP seat by the difference of half a mark (and combination of a variety of other factors including my subject choice of Computers and requirement of a hostel) and got admitted to another school. It was my Uncle and Aunt taking care of everything, while my parents were 2000 kilometres away handling a deeper crisis. Probably it was only because of this ‘crisis’ that my stay in Delhi materialised.


I got into the school’s hostel with limited seats on merit with the number of seniors more than four times the total hostellers in my batch. I was in a class of students who were all toppers in their respective schools with the average percentage probably at 95 or higher. I was in Delhi, a place which perhaps ranks only 2nd after Kota, in terms of it being a ‘coaching hub’ for the IITs and AIIMS entrance tests. The problem was I didn’t understand any of this right then. The FIITJEEs and Narayanas- I had never heard those names. I had never dreamed of getting into an IIT. And I committed the mistake of looking up to everyone for advice and then taking all those advices.

For an introvert 16 year old to move from a small town in Odisha to the capital of the country all of a sudden, meant first and foremost, a huge culture shock. Everything I had known for all the years I had been alive suddenly seemed irrelevant. There was new and apparently more important ‘knowledge’ here. The conversations began and ended with an abuse. Suddenly being a liar was all okay and being good, meant being a saint and an outcast. Everything was different.

Here I was dealing with people, ‘new friends’, from all over the country, each one with a set of completely diverse personality trait and earlier life. I was also growing up, it was my adolescence. There were psychological troubles that had to be kept in check. Too much was happening all together. And there was no one to explain anything. It was a 24x7 battle of survival inside my head.

I had never imagined staying away from home and one fine morning I was headed to a strange new place with people from a cultural background as different from mine as possible. I had never known what ‘abuses’ actually meant apart from the ‘kutte, gadhe, saale’ but then I heard new ones here (and believed their existence only when I heard the first dialogue of Slumdog Millionaire). Come on, half the time I didn’t even realise that the other person was abusing me! For someone who had never felt the need of any pocket money, suddenly the entire world seemed to be judging you on the basis of the bank notes in your wallet and the price of the phone in your hand.

I joined a coaching class, I got dragged into the ‘AIM IIT-IIT-IIT’ bandwagon, I couldn’t understand a thing of what was happening in my academics or personal life. Within a few months, everything crumpled down. Everything fell apart. And it took a long time to realise and control the damage that had been done.

While I stayed in touch with very few of my Class 10 school friends, I could never explain to them why ‘getting a chance to move to Delhi was actually nothing close to being amazing’. At least not for those two initial years. And I had no clue until a few minutes ago, that I would be able to talk about it ever. I have never spoken about it, probably because I didn't understand anything then and as the years passed and I started to gain understanding of life, I understood that it was just a phase, a change, which was personal to me.

I went from being a close to 95-percenter in Class 10 to below 80 in 12th. Not performing well in my 12th Boards has never for one second been a reason of regret for me. There are a lot of things apart from ‘grades’ that we earn and learn in life, and although they might never show up on a report card, they are the only things that actually matter in the long run.

Now when I think of it all in retrospect, I laugh about it. I feel happy. Happy because I sailed through it all. When there are bad times, there are equal number of good times as well- we just have to look for them. For all the people I met here, for the best friends I made here, for the good and bad situations I was in, for each day bringing a new learning, for the city’s love and care amidst all its tyranny and ruthlessness, I shall be eternally thankful. Delhi taught me a lot. Delhi changed me. Delhi, and specifically those two initial years, gave me a new life. Delhi made me grow up. Delhi made me realise that the world is not merely the comfort of home. Delhi made me who I am today. And I am proud of it.

No wonder, when I try to recollect and write about my life before moving to Delhi, I am left with no words. Literally, I go blank. No stories. No talks. There is a certain romanticism attached to every piece of work for a writer. For me somehow this romanticism begins in those two initial years I spent in a Delhi school hostel. Probably on that eventful day in the summer of 2008 when I stepped down from the Rajdhani Express, I moved a stepped closer to growing up.

This post has been written for Housing.com and their #StartANewLife campaign. Check out their concept video here:

6 comments :

  1. And that is why I am always open to changes. They are scary, but they definitely turn us into better people.

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  2. You made your story, "ours" ! That's very good writing :)

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  3. Delhi has always been special. I remember as a boy who pre-dominantly grew up in Gurgaon, coming to Delhi for college was a big move. I can imagine how the addition of cultural shock must have been for you. :)

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