City Hangout - Monsoon Places, Around Town

City Hangout – Monsoon Places, Around Town

City Hangout - Monsoon Places, Around Town

In Delhi rains.

[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]

The grey sky above the ITO crossing is growing darker. The sweating humidity is soon replaced by a cool breeze. It is starting to rain. Lightly, then heavily. Bikers huddle under the avenue trees. Bus commuters gawk out of the glass windows. An auto rickshaw’s rear-view mirror gets spotty with raindrops, resembling a pointillist Seurat painting.

And now he appears–this young man skating in the rain, wheeling past cars and autos, his lithe figure swaying smoothly. See photo. He cheerily waves towards the camera and skates ahead into the thickening rain.

The most intense place in the Delhi region to witness the monsoon is an old building in Gurugram’s Civil Lines. The Church of Epiphany was built by the Brits in 1866, and its bell tower and gabled roof does evoke the ambiance of village churches in rain-soaked England. To sit safe and dry within the church’s darkened interiors, beside the tall lancet windows, and watch the silver ropes of the monsoon showers slam into the churchyard outside makes for an experience too dream-like to be substantial.

The other heart-stopping monsoon view in Gurugram is accessible from within Sector 53-54 station on the Rapid Metro line. The scene surfaces only on evenings when it has just stopped raining and the clouds have begun to scatter, giving glimpses of the setting sun. The sky gets stained in translucent pink, with patches of purple, red and blue. The towers and high-rises look soft and malleable. Chance rainbow sighting makes the panorama doubly unreal.

The hilltop monument of Adam Khan’s tomb in Mehrauli offers a 360-degree view of the rains, including of the formidable Qutub Minar, which looks utterly helpless while being lashed by the falling water. (A mithai shop beside the hillock makes crispy thin jalebis. Get those packed before embarking on the minute-long climb to the monument.)

You may get closer to the Qutub Minar by hanging out in Metcalfe’s Folly, a British-era structure in Mehrauli Archaeological Complex. Tucked atop a grassy mound, it overlooks the minar, the beautiful Jamali-Kamali mosque and tomb, and other old relics. During the rain, you remain dry under the stone canopy. But when it gets windy too, then… good luck!

In the north of the city, the Tibetan refugee settlement of Majnu Ka Teela has cafés and restaurants overlooking the Yamuna. This is the only place in the capital to sit tantalizingly close to the rain-powered river, while enjoying a table laid with tasty khana.