City Moment – Street Lost & Regained, Nizamuddin Basti
The beautiful Delhi instant.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It is evening. The Delhi Walla is walking down the principal lane in Nizamuddin Basi, a 14th century village in central Delhi, named after a sufi saint. The street is teeming with pilgrims, beggars, and vendors of kebabs, perfumes, caps and sandals. It is difficult to make way through the dense crowd.
Suddenly, a hissing sound.
In front of Urdu poet Mirza Ghalib’s tomb: haze.
The bearded men standing in front of the Markaz, the spiritual headquarters of Tableeqi Jamaat, an austere Islamic organization, are looking on calmly. The hiss is getting louder, like that of a steam engine picking up speed. A green van, the seeming source of this mystery, is nearing.
The haze – no, it’s more like winter fog – is thickening, spreading out, drifting towards us. The area is looking like the immediate aftermath of a blast scene in Baghdad or Kabul.
A choking feeling. People are covering their noses. Visibility is now 0. The entire street is lost.
No terror attack, this is a fumigation drive by the Municipal Council of Delhi to control mosquito-borne diseases like dengue and chikungunya. The haze is bio-larvicide spray that kills mosquito larvae.
The van has left us behind. The hissing sound is beginning to fade; the fog is thinning. The street is being regained. This is a beautiful moment.
Street, lost and regained