After a sumptuous meal at rather an expensive restaurant here, in Delhi, I am on my way back home. Soft soothing wafts of cold air are incoherently skirting around my face in the summer after-hours of which has been rather a hot and humid day. The weather is pleasant but it is already too late. And there are all the possible chances of a slight drizzle anytime. The evening has been quite hectic in terms of amusement and nostalgia. It had to be; after all… old buddies rejoining after a long time. This has somehow made me a little bit more introspective….
The traffic is in its usual lethargic self… slowly snaking its way across the insufficiently wide roads of the national capital. I neck myself out of the auto and try to absorb the ambience. There are boards along the road, with “Delhi Metro”, “under construction”, “sorry for the inconvenience” painted across, illuminated by the ever dazzling street lights and head lamps of other vehicles. Time and again, there appear banners depicting commonwealth games 2010 and huge advertisements of heroes and heroines brandishing some arbit brand of toothpaste, holding a fancy mobile or riding the newest version of a new car in the market.
An idea strikes my contemplative mind. There should be hundreds…. no… actually thousands of people out into the real realms of the city, most of them, by the look of it, on their way to the more comfortable walls of their sweet homes. I try to figure out… about 25% of a Delhite’s average day should be spent in these alleyways….in cars, buses, scooters, motorbikes, auto-rickshaws, taxis, trains, metros and on feet.
To be candid, I have been rather too fond of Delhi off late, for which many things can be ascribed to; one particular reason being it’s increasingly increasing scenic beauty. Let it be the introduction of CNG or the ever bustling Metro, the national capital has been incessantly progressing towards a brighter, faster and more importantly, cleaner future.
I am passing through the most secure area of India, between the stark white bungalows of high profile government officers, political leaders and other VIPs and VVIPs, trying to read the names on their nameplates, imagining my own name on one of those in a future memory. The auto sidles along the circumference of centrally mowed lawns, changing its position from one road to other, named after the names of freedom fighters, revolutionary figures and uncommon persona.
It was nice altogether…. today’s rendezvous with childhood friends. We spent the evening at Connaught place and then at India gate. There was a nice movie screened in the Regal but we never cared to watch it; it could be done any other time…. it was the time to rejoin and reminisce those old childhood memories which nevertheless pop every now and then when we tend to do what I mostly like to do.
There are by far three Connaught places in the world (as mentioned in Wikipedia) among which the one in Central Delhi, built by Robert Tor Russell, stands alone when it comes to aesthetics and utility. It is basically a big circle in the middle with radial roads spreading out in all directions, Janpath being surely the most famous of all.
Whether it be the Central Park, the Palika Bazar, the overpriced shops, the regal, the pubs, the night-clubs, the restaurants or, for that matter, the ice-cream vendors and the broad open airy lanes, Connaught Place proves to be a heaven after a day’s hectic schedule and hectic to the pockets if you find it difficult to restrain yourself. There is Barakhamba road, the city’s famous point of skyscrapers, where, once upon a time, I had unintentionally planned to have an air-conditioned office with the du(a)ng of a friend of mine.( Arbit though, a very strange thought comes to my mind while I write these lines: Life goes in full circle…(!)(?))
The Janpath drops down to the south and meets an equally famous lane, the Rajpath…. or I may be wrong…. it may be more famous after all. But, whatever it is, Rajpath stands alone when it comes to being royally unique. Patriotically confessing, I have rather an emotional inclination towards it. It provides me with a living testimony to the fact that I am an Indian. But all sentiments apart, the road is special anyways. It provides a consummate panorama of architectural beauty with Rashtrapati Bhawan and India gate standing unabashedly at the two of its ends.
The best thing I like about India Gate are not the lawns where thousands of people, local and foreigners alike, throng every evening and enjoy picnicking…. taking photographs with strange angles and curls of mouth and stranger architectures of the body….. engorging golgappas…. boating in the nearby aqueduct…. meandering aimlessly, hand in hand, with their girlfriends and boyfriends… squatting on the freshly mowed grass…..or simply lying down, with one arm over the eyes…. I like India Gate because it reminds me of a poem The Unknown Soldier which I read sometimes back. India Gate is the tomb of the Unknown Soldier…”the amar jawan jyoti” which vehemently and perpetually reminds us that we are able to sleep peacefully because these soldiers lay down their lives every other day just to keep a vigil against the enemies of our country.
Just before I got down the auto-rickshaw, it started raining. I was already in best of my reflective moods, and the rain over that…it felt like heaven…. I plied a hundred rupee note on the hands of driver, thanked him and started walking towards my sweet home, least bothered about the water pounding on my hirsute skull, least bothered about what the Mum might do if she found out that her twenty year old son got drenched in some drops of water (pun intended); in fact, least bothered about anything real in this world; walking on a lane and thinking about the city of dreams……
And now I am sneezing and pouring out gallons of liquidy stuff on my keyboard…..