The final frontier.

[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]

One cold morning The Delhi Walla travelled on the yellow line of the metro train and got off at Jahangir Puri, the route’s last destination in the north-west.

At the exit gate, the overhead metro station took the form of a gigantic industrial complex, and the commuters who walked out of the escalators mutated into newly-constructed robots. A vegetable seller pushing his cart under the station’s pedestrian bridge provided the sole confirmation of humanity.

By this hour, the GT-Karnal Road, teeming with Delhi Transport Corporation buses and auto-rickshaws, had expanded into a ribbon of dust. I parked myself on the adjacent street. It was bordered with factories; their tin sheds had rusted to shades of golden-brown. The upper reaches of the air were punctuated here and there with blackened chimneys. The area smelled of nail polish remover. I started to walk, scanning the near horizon for some familiar scenes.

Not far away an elderly man in a cream shawl was having aloo parathas at a cart named Nirala Vaishno Bhojnalaya. A fresh juice vendor was reading a Hindi newspaper. Unaware of the machines of life operating around him, a homeless man was fast asleep on the metal bench of a bus shelter; its wall was covered with torn posters of job vacancies.

A child walked past. He was wearing a man’s sandals. Carrying a small polythene packet filled with garbage, he was looking down – perhaps in search of more refuse. Further ahead, a bicycle mechanic was sitting by his pavement stall. His little tools were arranged on a white sack.

On the other side of the road appeared to be a residential neighbourhood. On the roof of one of the houses, a woman in a red cardigan was looking down at the buses.

I soon reached the point where the elevated metro track ended.

The border region

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