Thursday, January 29, 2009

This is not strictly in sequence, for in an ideal world, this post would have come before the one immediately before it. Yet, Oh-Ye-Who-Still-Arrive-Here, this is not an ideal world.

Very far from it, actually.

I shall now proceed with the post.

As an unabashed supporter of Delhi, and an unofficial tour guide (read here), I often take people around Delhi (sometimes by the scruff of their necks.) Happily, once in a while, I meet those who-
a) Actually want to see Delhi (or are too polite to refuse), and
b) Don't think my company palls on them (Or ditto).

and so, we set off.

In the present case, One Sowmya Rao and I decided to See The Sights Of Delhi.

So far so good.

We met at The Big Chill Cafe, at Khan Market. After a delightful meal, consisting of a plate of Spicy Chorizo Penne and half of Sowmya's vegetarian pasta- the name of which escapes me now- she wasn't too hungry, one hopes, we decided to set forth. The question arose- where to go first? After solicitous enquiries about her health, for she had hurt her ankle, we got up well-fed, and ready to go around Delhi. Where, though, should we start?

Being me, I decided to suggest the house (and now the museum) of Indira Gandhi. I was unsure how this would be received, my fascination with the Gandhi family being among my more annoying habits. However, Sowmya, rendered weak by injury and malleable by good food, fell in with this plan. To Indira Mata's, we went.

The house is tiny, and is crammed with photos of Indira Gandhi and her children, along with two rooms full of newspaper clippings praising "Indira Gandhi and the World", and "Indira Gandhi at home". Interesting things were seen there- including a speech made by Mrs. Gandhi in Canada in 1973 where she spoke about India and Canada being united, not only by the Commonwealth, but also by having to deal with expansionist neighbours (!), and Hindu Headlines on the declaration of the Emergency, which had Internal Disturbances underlined. Unfortunately, more interesting press-snippets, such as The Economist's portrayal of Our Mother here, were not on display. Ah, well.

It was already evening, however, and that made our having to go to Old Delhi immediately, if we wanted to see the Jama Masjid, which Sowmya did. While finding autos in Lutyen's Delhi is a problem, even this superhuman feat was achieved with not too much difficulty. Before we reached the Jama Masjid, however, I decided to puncture Sowmya's romantic notions of Old Delhi, and attempted to explain to her it was nothing but a squalid slum. It is very disappointing to see people who've read Dalrymple look at Old Delhi with a dazed eye, and mutter "I expected something more...historical!"

I needn't have worried, however, because the lady decided to take in all the atmosphere she could find. At the Masjid, she seemed delighted at everything- the pigeons, the serenity (undisturbed by the children running around inside), the beauty of the architecture, and the sense of peace that pervades so many places of worship. Subsequent events did little to dim her joie de vivre-I don't think I've seen any vegetarian look so delighted at Karim's, or at the Food Stalls outside Jama Masjid. where even my eating very tough beef failed to disconcert her.. We visited the Meena Bazaar, now chiefly a mart of gaudy looking-glasses, burqas, kaajal,itr cassettes of naats, and (since we visited it just after Eid) goats. I proceeded to expound on Delhi, and the poor girl had no option but to listen. She also claimed she loved the atmosphere, so I decided to play a nasty trick on her.

While walking to Karim's to pack food for people, I stopped adjacent to a a Men's toilet. Public toilets, in much of India, are not known for their hygiene, and tend to announce themselves to that part of the world that is not olifactorily-challenged. This loo was no exception, and possessed, as it were, one of those fine, broad-shouldered up-and-coming smells which stand on both feet and look the world in the eye. We had just been talking about the atmosphere, the flavour, the essence, as it were, of Old Delhi. I asked her to breathe in.

She did. Her face changed.

She then looked at me expectantly.

I congratulated her on having smelt Pee.

Hysterical laughter then ensued.

Sadly, the evening went by too fast, with our realising we had to go back. Dropping Sowmya on one of Delhi's most beautiful roads- South Avenue- I went back, and a wonderful day ended.

Oh, and since none of us had a camera, all I have are two blurry photos on a mobile phone. Gah.

PS- Photos might be the topic of the next blogpost.


Blogger Karan said...

I'm such a bad Delhiite. I've barely been to Old Delhi and have definitely never stepped foot in Indira Gandhi's house. Blessed is the mother.

5:47 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home