At the wedding, at the market, at the mashhoor dukaan (Famous Shop) since 1940: jalebi. Glittering gorgeous and hot on hotter news in the paper from the morning. You want to urgently pick one up between your cold fingers and crunch it warm between your canines. More golden than the dome of Gurudwara Bangla Sahib you visited prior, more convoluted than these hairpin turns where you find yourself rambling about for the lack of reason and raft, more ancient than the twentieth-century shop that hawks it, you want to pluck one right away and gently squeeze its suffocating sweetness in your mouth. More orange than the 6 pm sun that oversaw the road that led you here.
Batter of flour and yogurt voyages through a nozzle to calligraph loops in hot ghee. Then, with graceful abandon, they float—these ancient scripts for happiness—until they are crisp and coral enough to be tonged out. Bathed in a sugar syrup, they become little circuits of pleasure, sappy and swell, sufficient to ink your own Ikigai.
You think, after two or three—okay, four—your palate must tire and sleep. But no. That numbing nectar has had your cosmos captivated. And every time you wait in earnest for that holy crackle between your gums. By now, your fat fingers are all shiny and awkward. You stare in vain, yet the only Van der Waals attraction you feel is towards more of those jalebis.
You nibble lavishly. You withdraw poorly. You think meagrely. In the old smudging lanes of Delhi, you have arrived at your altar—all bent and rounding on the lilt of the evening. For all their twists, a most lucid language for love. The simplest jumbles of joy!