City Hangout – Accessible-to-All Garden, Members-Only IIC
Space for all.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The vibes can be foreboding at the India International Center (IIC). All those security guards. All those spaces you’re not permitted to enter unless you’re a member (or in this city of connections, a friend of the member).
But, there’s one special garden tucked away behind the complex’s guest rooms where Delhiites are freely admitted, membership or not. Here you can savour the lovely lawn strewn with leaves this particular evening.
The sound of a nearby fountain wafts like the melody of a mountain stream rushing across rocky beds.
Here’s also where you can also indulge in people-watching, especially if you’re anthropologically interested in the so-called IIC gentry. This exclusive club teems with elegantly dressed academics and retired bureaucrats and what have you. Many of them are retired or just past their prime, but nonetheless are basking in the afterglow of their careers. Such as the former Jammu & Kashmir governor Jagmohan who often takes turns in the garden in the evening.
Book launches are sometimes hosted just beside the garden—and nobody will ask for your credentials. Feel free to help yourself to free samosas and chai. But your principal activity would no doubt focus on the garden, just like IIC members themselves, who right this very moment merely want to enjoy Mother Nature at her fulgent best.
But of course: A case can be made that this non-government institution in its entirety, including its incredible library and restaurant, ought to be democratically enjoyed by all Delhiites, and not just at book launches or film screenings.
IIC’s secret garden