Mission Delhi – Harsh Vardhan Dutta, Lodhi Garden

Mission Delhi – Harsh Vardhan Dutta, Lodhi Garden

One of the one percent in 13 million.

[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]

It is a cold windy afternoon. The sky is grey. Lodhi Garden is looking bleak. But this young man is looking like March rather than December.

May be his sunny disposition has something to do with the novel he is reading under this lean almond tree.

“I’m on sabbatical from work since last few months,” Harsh Vardhan Dutta tells The Delhi Walla. Keeping aside John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, he says, “I live far away in west Delhi but I drive to Lodhi Garden at least once every week, and this is my favorite reading spot in the entire park.”

Looking up at the grim sky, Mr Dutta says, “But sometimes I don’t read… I just close my eyes and hear the bird sounds. Sometimes I also make mobile phone videos of the squirrels here as they run after one another.”

Picking up a fallen brown leaf from the yellowing grass, Mr Dutta says, “I used to be an entrepreneur but presently I’m writing a novel. It is about the protagonist’s childhood trauma and how it affects his social well-being. He finds it difficult to make friends; it is tough for him to be accepted; he carries the ghosts of his early years into his adulthood, and finally he breaks down.”

Is this an autobiography?

The writer shrugs his shoulders, and after a long pause, he says, “My novel is almost done. Now it is time to find a good publisher.”

What’s inside his bag? More books?

“No,” says Mr Dutta, “there’s only a notepad inside… in case I feel like to write. There’s also a hand sanitizer.’

Glancing at his watch, he says, “I think I will read until four after which I will walk around in the park for half an hour, and then I will drive back to beat the (evening) rush hour.”

And Mr Dutta re-enters his private Lodhi Garden.

[This is the 97th portrait of Mission Delhi project]

A writer’s haven