The instant getaway.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
No escapist haven, it is still an excellent place to seek seclusion. The statue of Tamil poet Subramania Bharathi (circa 1987) in a little plaza, off Maharshi Raman Marg, near Khan Market, offers the best urban evening in Delhi. As the sky turns crimson-blue, the bronze figure recedes into an illusionary dimness. You feel for all those beautiful Tamil poems that you will never read because you don’t understand the language.
The small plaza looks to the bungalows of Lodhi Estate. Behind is Kaka Nagar colony. The ground is paved with stone slabs. On two sides are weedy gardens with trimmed hedges. Both are raised on a platform, reached by a set of three steps. A triangle-shaped bushy plot is landscaped in front of the statue. A large rubber plant grows on a corner.
On rare evenings, there will be old men, sitting on the steps, discussing the state of the world. Once I saw a couple of boys doing acrobatics. Most likely you will be the only one there. But the plaza’s solitude is transient. You will never be able to feel completely alone for more than a few seconds. The traffic on the Marg is constant. Evening walkers amble on with leashed dogs. The sounds are semi-wild. Koyals coo. Cars whoosh. Sudden gaps of short intense silence are crudely breeched by the siren of a VIP’s cavalcade or the flutter of a peacock’s wings.
It is possible, while standing by the statue, to wonder at the pointlessness of the urban life. Why are these cars driving so fast? What’s the hurry? Why people don’t stop here and discover the slowness of seconds and minutes? You feel sorry for the muggles.
The sense of aloneness does not deepen with the sinking of evening. While walking in circles in the plaza, you see your shadow prancing furtively around you. It’s an introspective moment. If Shakespeare were alive, he would have asked Hamlet’s soliloquy to be enacted here.
Where Maharshi Raman Marg, Near Khan Market, Next to Bharti Nagar bus stop
Twilight in Delhi
Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1