By Henri-Charles Puech

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The monsoon begins in Kerala in June and meanders its way across the subcontinent, a beloved air mass that’s bounced around the country by ocean currents or winds off the Himalayas or whatever other global weather patterns magically ensure it touches every part of the country. The newspapers predict its arrival, debate its strength, and warn of a disappointment for farmers; and the whole of the city scans the skies in the mornings, hope rising with every cloud, every breeze stirring anticipation and joy in Delhi hearts.

M. was very concerned about the neighborhood’s security situation. ” he told us. One day he and Mrs. M. , right after Shankar’s employees left, instead of at midnight as it had been up until then. Unlocking the padlock was difficult enough from the inside; unlocking it from the outside, as I now had to do every night when I arrived home from work, required contorting my wrist to ease the reversed key into the hole, pressing my face against the dusty iron gate and usually dropping my belongings in the process.

The feeling of wandering the Hundred Acre Woods was exacerbated when we started paying attention to the retail outlets: Connaught Place was an infinite loop of Van Heusen stores. But on subsequent visits, when we looked closer, we saw treasures. Independent antiquity still survived behind the brand names. There were restaurants with both the décor and uniformed waiters of colonial times, ancient tailors and dusty keymakers sitting in alcoves surrounded by antique tools, hand-painted signs that made the area a study in 1950s typography, and two branches of Saravana Bhavan, the most delicious south Indian restaurant in the city.

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