Postings to New Delhi
by Vimala Ramu
Getting a posting to New Delhi was tantamount to opening a tourist house for relatives and visitors. This was not the case just with us but any South Indian residents of New Delhi.
People would not only visit us and stay with us for a few days but had to be taken sight seeing in and around Delhi (the latter included Agra, Mathura and Brindaban) which Ramu used to do patiently and willingly in our humble Standard car.
People going on further journey to Chandigarh, Jaipur or Simla had to be not only picked up and dropped at the station (All north Indian trains and buses would leave from Old Delhi or Nizamuddin) but their tickets had to be bought in advance and reservations done.
Someone would get posted to Delhi but the quarters not yet allotted? No problem. Come and stay with us with family. More the merrier.
Someone had to wind up the family as he was going abroad? No problem. Come and stay with us. Somebody’s friend had an interview at Delhi? No problem. He could stay with us. (Poor first time visitor to Delhi. Where would he go?)
People expected us to take them to Janpath, Ajmal Khan Road, Chandni Chowk,Connaught place etc for shopping (The Palika bazaar and Malls had not yet come into existence).
Sometimes there used to be a respite between one set of guests and other. But there were times when they overlapped.
Due to such transit population, we had some hilarious moments.
Once my brother in law had come from Bombay and the youngest had joined us from Pathankot. The elder one was scheduled to leave on a particular day and his luggage was all packed and lying ready in the drawing room. At the same time, my sister’s husband arrived from Hyderabad on official work. They both had a similar looking item of baggage. Yes, you guessed it. Ramu’s brother walked away with my sister’s husband’s bag! Thank God, the error was detected and rectified before he left.
I remember some other funny situations associated with New Delhi.
Once, my brother in law shopped for white embroidered Lucknavi Kurtas from Jan path, on the eve of his leaving Delhi. Next morning, as he was about to leave, he opened the parcel to show me his purchase. To everyone’s shock, we discovered that instead of the two kurtas of size 3 and size 12 which he wanted, the parcel contained sizes 1,2,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,13,14 and 15 which they had brought home leaving the other two at the shop. He had to hurriedly leave, get down at Janpath shop, collect the sizes 3 and 12 kurtas and return the others before catching the train, fortunately from New Delhi Station.
Once we had to visit a family in another part of New Delhi. On the way we suddenly remembered that there was a baby in the family to whom we had to give a cash gift as a matter of custom. When my husband stopped to fill in petrol, he had to flaunt his Punjabi. He said ‘Panji lagaadey’ thinking he would be supplied 5 litres. When the attendant gave a bill for 25 litres, he had a shock. He had to empty the purse and the baby had to go giftless!
But, one thing for sure; we used to thoroughly enjoy our postings to New Delhi every time.