City Landmark – Ukrainian Embassy, Vasant Vihar
The other diplomatic enclave.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
“September 23, 2022: 212nd day of full-scaled Russian aggression.”
So says the flier pinned on the board. While the gate has a framed map of Ukraine. An adjacent poster with a picture of orchid flowers affirms that “Taiwan stands for Ukraine.”
And that’s the Ukrainian flag hoisted on a pole. In the absence of breeze, the flag is hanging down.
This is the closest you can get to war-torn Ukraine while in Delhi, Gurugram, Ghaziabad or Noida. The embassy lies towards the end of a silent sleepy lane in C block, here in south Delhi’s Vasant Vihar. The building looks like the multi-storey kothi of any wealthy Vasant Vihar family. A bird is perched by a window, not tweeting anything. Can there be some anxious Ukrainian sitting inside the building at this very moment, and watching this same silent bird?
If Vasant Vihar were a person, it might have complained for not being called Delhi’s diplomatic enclave. That privilege falls to Chanakyapuri, the tree-lined district with broad avenues and huge embassy compounds hosting countries like the US, China, France, Germany and Pakistan. But Vasant Vihar has an equally rich congestion of countries. Take this lane. Besides Ukraine, it also houses the embassies of Costa Rica (a small three-storey, with tiny balconies, giving vibes of a suburban housing society), Venezuela, Senegal, Eritrea (a slab is inscribed in English, Arabic and another language that nobody in the vicinity could identify). Amid one of these embassies, a name plate on a private house—much grander than these embassies, offers “healing conversations” by a “neuropsychologist.”
Another lane in nearby E block too is rich in embassies—South Africa (folks there keep food for birds and squirrels outside the gate), Ecuador, Maldives, Bosnia Herzegovina , Paraguay and Kyrgyz Republic. The embassy of Zimbabwe is a short walk away on Poorvi Marg. Morocco is also very close.
Since most embassies in Vasant Vihar look like private residences, and most embassies in Chanakyapuri appear as formidable as castles with moat , one inevitably wonders on the criteria by which addresses have been allocated to various countries. In any case, Ukrainian embassy did not exist before 1991. It was part of the former USSR, whose embassy was in Chanakyapuri, and which now houses the embassy of Russia.
Whatever, you will never have to fret much while searching for Ukraine in C block. The guard’s cabin on the pavement is painted with stripes of blue and yellow, the colours of the Ukrainian flag.
The Kiev around the corner