Delhi Diary – December 31, 2008
The Delhi walla‘s pretension in writing makes me want to lodge a bullet in his balls – Blogger Nimpipi, the woodchuck chucks
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Let’s meet next year.
[Text by Mayank Austen Soofi; picture by Solveig Bang]
On the last day of 2008, I’ll share one of my best and a quintessential Delhi day with the readers of The Delhi Walla. But first: Happy New Year.
1pm: Khan Market. Hey-hi to a friend at Café Turtle. I ask for carrot juice; she orders sweet lime soda.
1.37pm: Café Turtle is expensive. To Sidewok for lunch. The friend is the sugar daddy today. She’ll pay. We have dim sum, shredded lamb, Chinese greens and steamed rice.
2.25pm: Strolling in Lodhi Garden. The friend is mumbling sweet-nothings to dogs and birds.
2.32pm: At her bungalow in Jor Bagh. The husband is away at work. So I’m freely snooping around his library while she is preparing the tea. Wow. A lovely edition of Jeremy Paxman’s The English: A Portrait of a People. Should I flick it? But why ruin the friendship?
2.50pm: Just 3-days-old in Delhi, her furniture is still not set. We sit down on the floor to have chai.
2.55pm: A surprise gift for me! I’ll not open it in front of her. Am not a good actor. Wouldn’t like her to see my expression if disappointed.
3.02pm: Second serving of chai. She clicks my picture.
3.15 pm: We trundle next door to Jor Bagh market and enter into The Bookshop but buy no books.
3.28pm: An auto to Old Delhi. Costly ride. The friend has white skin that is screaming, “I have dollars, I have dollars, I have dollars.” But we don’t have dollars.
3.46pm: In Daryaganj. Everyone staring at the friend. Winter-proofed in a black overcoat with head covered in a scarf, she is looking very Iranian. Like a jet setting human rights activist from Tehran whose father must have been a spy for the Shah.
5.15pm: At the spooky tomb complex of Razia Sultan in Bulbuli Khana. No one but us. We sit down and stay quiet.
5.35pm: Walking up the stairs of somebody’s house and climbing onto their terrace. Old Delhi skyline. Birds, kites, birds, kites, birds, kites. Soon it’s prayer time and the sound of Allah hu Akbar swimming out from several minarets. These cries soar up in the air and dissolves into a Beethoven sonata.
6.15pm: At the dargah of Sarmad Shahid. I tell the friend the story of this sufi (loved a boy, roamed naked, sentenced to death).
6.50pm: On our way to Basti Hazrat Nizamuddin. The auto is stuck at a crossing. We click pictures. Even traffic jams can be photogenic.
7.16pm: At Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah. Why is the friend silent? Is she moved by the spirituality of this place?
7.47pm: We want to pee. Onward to Karim’s. They have a clean loo there.
7.58pm: The friend says goodbye and go away.
10.05pm: Back home at my library. Unwrapping the gift. Dried rose petals falling off. Inside: a little green-coloured notepad, handmade in Italy.