‘Dilli Waali’ me!

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 03 Apr 2018 11:20:24

“TU TOH ekdum Dilli waali ho gayi!.” I can’t count the number of times this sentence has been bombarded on me. For the longest time, I chuckled through it because it didn’t really matter and the context in which it did matter, ‘Dilli Waali’ seemed like a compliment- for a girl who has moved from a developing town to the capital city. It’s only when I started noticing the undertones attached to the term ‘Dilli waali’ or the misogynist contexts that it was used in, I grew aversive to such identification.

I noticed how every time I used the f word in a sentence or decided to wear clothes an inch shorter or brought a strong counter argument in a running debate - I was shut down by saying “Arey tu toh Dilli waali ho gayi” coercing me into thinking how I might be distancing myself from my ‘roots’. Every time I took a stand for my room-mate partying late at night, or spent hours explaining my mom about the queer community, or how drinking and smoking aren’t parameters to access someone’s character I noticed this subtle resistance on their end against the supposed ‘Delhi influence’ in my behaviour.

I have been brought up in a family where conformity was shoved down our throats as a matter of ‘principle safety measure’ to live happily in a society that rejects anything that goes against its norms. And I choose to not blame it on my family completely, simply because they don’t see norms as redundant constructions that might bar freedom. They see norms as guarding agents that might protect me from the demons of the real world.

The core issue here, however, is the degree to which we are conditioned into believing that demons can only arise from what society believes to be ‘wrongfully influenced spaces’ (like an advanced city or privileged institutions) that develop at a cost of our sacred culture. And how the basis on which the demon will attack might depend on me breaking a ‘societal code of conduct’.

Understand this -- my choice to live life the way I do isn’t limited to a specific city. I might now be fairly different from my previous self but that is because I am exposed to a larger set of perspectives that I can choose from. So every time I challenge a set of conditions my previous self was subjected to I am not becoming more ‘Dilli Waali’ (not that there’s anything wrong) or less of my previous self, I am just figuring out spaces that help me educate myself and possibly others into making better versions of ourselves. My identity doesn’t belong to one place, and if it had to it would belong to the infinity of the universe that consciously sheds off heavily prejudiced labels like so.


-Pavleen Arora
(Journalism Student, LSR)