City Hangout – Stranded Boat, Hauz Khas Lake
A melancholy setting.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
One way to experience a beautiful poem is to find it in some book. Another way is to encounter it in a tangible material form in this three dimensional world. Then, without the medium of words, this is just you and the poem.
One place to be enriched by such an experience lies right here in Delhi. The poem is a half-sunken peddle boat in Hauz Khas lake, tucked between Safdarjung Enclave and Hauz Khas Village.
The boat has been lying in this position for years. This evening the water is looking dark green, perhaps reflecting the densely leaved trees surrounding the lake. The white boat is lying tilted, the front portion tipped upwards, while the rear end is within the water—as if the great Titanic was just beginning to drown, but noiselessly. The middle portion is missing with the two ends joined by a pair of rusting railing. Nearby, a semi-ravaged tree, half leafy, half bare, is leaning over from the banks of the lake, parts of its branches almost touching the surface of the water—the tree appears discontented, as if wanting to leave this world for whatever exists within the lake.
There’s another boat-like object stranded nearby. It is completely sunk except for a tiny part peeping out of the water.
Peer carefully and you’ll see small fish vigorously swimming about the boat. Bits of garbage are floating about too, as minute as ashes, and there’s also an upturned sandal.
The lake, however, is barred to visitors. The boat must belong to the authorities looking after the lake, an evening walker says. The only things otherwise floating in the lake are fish, ducks, and reflections of birds flying above.
As the evening deepens, and the day light dims, the marooned boat loses its solidity, fast turning as black as the starless sky. And now it looks like a dolphin playfully splayed along the water — when suddenly cursed into becoming a stone statue.
The boat evokes an indescribably sad poem yet to be transcribed into words, and so heart-touching that you might want to experience it evening after evening.
A poem without words