City Hangout – Underpass, Redeveloped Central Vista
First day in the new Central Vista.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Gentleman in a white mundu, pulled up to his waist, like Shah Rulh Khan’s lungi in the movie Chennai Express. The hat on his head is knocking against the hat of the woman he is talking to. Elsewhere, a woman walks in a blue salwar, so shiny that she seems to have jumped straight out of the disco age of yesteryears. A little girl in red boots and toy revolver sleeps on her dad’s shoulder. Farther away, a middle-aged couple is holding hands, and walks quietly.
This might be an unlikely place to do some serious Central Vista people watching: the underpass that goes under the busy radial road, and connects the India Gate grounds to the lawns towards the Rashtrapati Bhawan. The long corridor comes as a soothing relief after the new extravagances of the sun-warmed grounds above. Its two walls are plastered with photos of the Vista. Visitors are walking slowly, and looking relaxed as they pass the panels. The shade is welcoming. The panels might interest those who are serious about updating their knowledge of the area, but you should come here to see the crowd. Many visitors are posing against these panels for formal portraits, and their faces are inadvertently showing the same profoundness that one encounters in black and white photos of yesteryears.
Now a bunch of five women and one child from GTB Enclave sombrely pose against a frame titled “Refurbished of the gardens at Kartavya Path.” The only male member in the group snaps their photo from his mobile. Then then walk on, followed by two foreigners, their arms heavily tattooed with butterflies and eagles.