City Walk – Bucharest Marg, Vasant Vihar
In Romania, without the visa.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Shiny limousines abound in Vasant Vihar where countless embassies of little nations have comfortably parked themselves in fortress-like bungalows. You wouldn’t be wrong in thinking that this genteel enclave abounding in greenery is utterly detached from the chaotic capital.
There are many ways to experience this south Delhi neighbourhood. One way is to walk along Bucharest Marg, a road named after the Romanian capital. Apparently, the Romanian embassy is nearby, a passerby informs. Indeed, the road does go past an embassy building — but the poster outside that barricaded bungalow says ‘Feeling Slovenia’.
This afternoon, the lane is quiet and the only frequent sounds are coming from slow-moving planes preparing to descend in the international airport.
The great houses here have their gates, balconies and windows shut to the world. It is impossible to make out the life behind the walls. But each of them have a cabin outside, with uniformed guards either looking listlessly out on the road, or absorbed in their cell phones. It is evening and an elderly woman in red sari is sweeping the leaves outside a gated residence. She says she is a part of the “bangla’s housekeeping staff.”
Further down the sleepy road, a young man is pulling a cart loaded with everything from sunshades to handkerchiefs. Would all those wealthy folks in this neighbourhood provide the seller with a brisk business?
Well, no. He explains that numerous apartments are now under construction down this lane, “and the labourers often buy my stuff!”
Then there’s Reena’s tea cart under a neem tree in A-block. She’s been selling chai right here for the past five years, freshly crushing cardamom every time a new batch is required. She, too, relies on the construction workers for the bulk of her business.
Further ahead the road unravels as languidly as a narrow stream in a garden and ends in Poorvi Marg, which houses the embassies of Angola and Zimbabwe.
Incidentally, there was no sighting of the elusive Romanian embassy. But who cares when one can freely walk along the Bucharest Marg without a visa.
The Bucharest state of mind