City Hangout – 7 pm Monsoon Sky, Barakhamba Traffic Light
Season in the city.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The evening sky is stained in pale but pellucid pink. Such a gauzy shade materialises only by the chance entwining of the monsoon clouds with the setting sun. Meanwhile, birds are wheeling about in the air. Down under, humans are mechanically going about their business.
This 7 pm scene at Barakhamba traffic light in central Delhi’s Connaught Place rivals the sunsets of mountains and seas. The area’s sights-cum-sounds are vividly conveying the poignancies of a worn-out city in sundown. Conveniently for the spectator, the sidewalk besides the traffic light, at the mouth of M Block in Outer Circle, happens to have a small seating facility. It is an idyllic location to immerse in the ambiance of the moment.
The theatrical sky above is claimed by two groups of birds—one is circling around the multi-storey Gopaldas Bhawan; the other is circling around the multi-storey Statesman House. Both towers face each other like hostile powers. The two groups of birds too are seeming to confront each other in that same unfriendly spirit, but stage an abrupt retreat, flying back to their respective territories. Only to start the same tension-filled drama again.
Meanwhile, quite a few pedestrians are settling down into the sidewalk seats, like a passenger drifting towards an unoccupied chair in an airport lounge. (Oblivious to the world around them, they are staring at their mobile phone screens.)
Now a middle-aged man in pants and a full-sleeve shirt stops by the traffic light, probably waiting for it to turn red so that he can cross to N Block. The masked gent is holding a leather laptop bag in one hand and a lunchbox in another. His shoulders are stooped, a belly is loosely popping out of his otherwise gaunt figure. The Statesman Tower stands directly behind him, looking like a genie that has suddenly emerged out of Alladin’s lamp. The traffic light changes. The man walks ahead, his face down. A lively young couple overtakes him in quick steps, they are holding hands.
Half an hour later the sky turns black. A beggar occupies a corner of the seating space and starts to eat a half-eaten cake that a passerby gave him moments back. The atmosphere of the place becomes sombre.
Once upon a sundown