City Hangout – Palika Parking Park, Connaught Place
A refuge for rejects.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The most liberating space for Delhi’s social rejects lies in the heart of the capital. The park above Palika Bazaar parking in the colonial-era Connaught Place is one of those rare public places in the city where the jobless, the homosexuals, the eunuchs, the smack addicts, and other lonely souls gather daily.
Until 2005 this crowd was seen in the adjacent Central Park. Elderly prostitutes stood beside bushes. Homosexuals made emergency love in the white-tiled urinal. Those who wished to be alone were left untouched. Foreign backpackers lounged on the grass. Book lovers read novels under giant neems.
But Delhi was building its first subway system, and Central Park was to be one of the hubs. Once taken over by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation, the park’s benches were disposed of, its grass turned over, its trees felled, and everything dug up to build an underground railway terminus. The renovated Central Park (opened in 2006) is a different world: well-behaved couples sit on grassy slopes, families stroll with standard-issue contentment, and children throw empty chip packets into the cascading fountains. Occasional concerts take place in a 350-seater amphitheater.
Meanwhile, the low life of the Central Park moved across the road to the garden above the Palika Bazaar parking. Here it co-exists harmoniously with the more conventional versions of life (couples, office-goers, tourists et cetera).
Ringed on three sides by a circular road clogged with cars and buses, the park remains surprisingly quiet. Sleeping is the most popular activity.
In the evening, red-capped ear cleaners chat with chaiwallas. Lone men smoke cigarettes. Drag queens walk with exaggerated hip swings. Boys kiss each other. Eunuchs sell blessings. Addicts look happy.
Come here each time you are bored of respectability.
Love that picture no. 7 with the moon! But I wish you’d taken it four days ago, when we had the supermoon of 2012. That would’ve been quite a sight. Say, did you take any supermoon pictures on the fifth? Or were you in cloudy Kashmir then?
Incidentally, the photos here are of the Palika PARKING park, not the Palika BAZAAR park. Don’t know why I didn’t notice this discrepancy before. The latter has just been refurbished. It was destroyed during Palika Bazaar’s central AC overhaul.
One advantage the Palika Bazaar park has over the Palika Parking park is the sloping landscape. You can sleep better here. The slope allows for a better sleeping posture, without needing to use your arm as a pillow. Further, the trees here are fully grown and can give you shade for a better sleeping experience. But you need to grab your spot early, before the lunchtime crowd settles in.
# 10 was humorous while # 15 was a shocker !!!!!!!!
aah waaaaaah waaaaah,went there several times,nice place to see sun set and have Tea with cigg.TRab Rakha:)
just look at all these comments with their fancy ‘numbers’ (picture no. 10, no. 7, no. 15 ). Back in my day,I used something called relative reference( third from the top, fifth from the bottom etc.). Sigh! I will miss the mind-numbing exercise of calculating the relative position of each picture. Goodbye Mr. Relative Reference.
and yeah, number 15 (sigh!) is kind of a cute pic even though the guy doesn’t seem like THAT good a kisser.
Yes, agree completely, Pic No. 15 is the only one that titillates the senses.
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