City Hangout – Janpath Flea Market at Midnight, Central Delhi
The familiar world in unfamiliar light.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Far more frequently visited by us Delhiwallas than Delhi’s many monuments is a monument of another kind altogether.
Of course The Delhi Walla is talking about the famously noisy and very cramped Janpath flea market. Where huge crowds of eager shoppers try ferreting out the very best bargains for, well, just about anything.
But, what happens after this Central Delhi market closes at night?
If you turn up at, say, 12 am, like me right now, you’ll discover a new and very unexpected bargain that isn’t for sale. The market is in fact home to so many trees that it’s almost like a lush forest.
Needless to say, this secret fact can easily escape the attention of daytime customers, where even tree branches are laden with sundry wares promoted by shopkeepers.
But at night you’re liable to find framed gods and goddesses hanging from those very same branches, which themselves are lit in a halogen glow. Shops are, of course, shuttered, with austere pavement stalls wrapped in plastic in the late night air: so still I can hear the sonores of dogs or the wail of faraway train engines.
Suddenly I think I see a person standing still—so mysterious. I walk nearer until I realise it’s a plastic bin. This is like a Shakespearean world where nothing is what it seems to be, and yet everything is certifiably real.
Janpath, in other words, is revealed in a very different light altogether.
Janpath’s late night avtar