City Hangout – 32 Parks, Hazrat Nizamuddin East
Neighbourhood of gardens.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Found, a bench bearing a most unusual dedication. Found, a huge cat. Found, a serene Buddha.
Each of these is in a different park. But all three parks are in the same locality. And this small locality of Hazrat Nizamuddin East is extraordinary for having a great many public parks—32 in all.
The aforementioned park bench is distinguished for its inscription: “In memory of our dearest pet Hustler, cocker spaniel, 1998-2013, lest he gets lost in the shadows of time.” The dog’s ashes were buried in this same park, a frangipani stands on the site. This December afternoon, a woman is sitting on the bench reading a French novel.
A flower’s throw away lies a little park enriched with a teenie-weenie cluster of red geranios. “This flower grows everywhere in my Venice,” remarks a woman clicking their photos from her mobile phone camera. A huge brown cat is sitting unblinking in a corner of the park. He has a dense whisker, glistening under the sun’s glare.
One of the parks, with a badminton court, shares a part of its boundary with the centuries-old stone walls of the Humayun Tomb complex. The sole visitor happens to be a peacock. A white-haired woman enters. She points to a row of tulips she recently planted—her daughter brought these from the US. “They will give flowers in February,” she says.
One of the larger gardens, circular in shape, gives a view of the top-floor apartments of film maker Mira Nair and novelist Vikram Seth. An elderly man is sunning himself on a bench. Dressed in suit and hat, holding a golf club, he resembles the late Anglophile author Nirad C. Chaudhuri.
Despite each Nizamuddin East park pickled in its peculiar character, it is easy to identify the most picturesque. This one faces late painter BC Sanyal’s home. Apart from conventional beauties, it is speckled with strategically placed rocks on which a citizen can sit for hours. The park was landscaped in the 1990s by late resident Chowdhury Iqbal Ahmad, and for years now has been enjoying the immersive attention of Mrs Shobha Mathur, acknowledged in the neighbourhood for her dedication to gardening. Directly outside her bungalow is a cutely named park, Bagichi, graced with two Buddha idols, painted red. The sight summons up the last line of Eliot’s Waste Land: “Shantih shantih shantih”.
Park here for parks