City Hangout - Early Morning Delhi, Around Town

City Hangout – Early Morning Delhi, Around Town

City Hangout - Early Morning Delhi, Around Town

Exploring the city in the time sof extreme heat.

[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]

In the early morning, just before the summertime sun of mid-June flames brightly on the domes of tombs and forts, on windows and balconies of suburban high-rises, and into the foliage of avenue trees, a sleepy Delhi lies snuggled in relative coolness.

Take Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti. The quiet lanes are stirring up with the first round of chai in the chai stalls on boil. The courtyard at Ghalib’s tomb is empty, except for two homeless citizens asleep around the poet’s grave-chamber (see photo). Lying on a stone bench, one of the men is turned towards a marble slab inscribed with Ghalib’s verse.

“When nothing was, then God was there
Had nothing been, God would have been
My being has defeated me
Had I not been, what would have been.”

In Hauz Khas Village, the main lane of cafes, pizzerias, restaurants and curio stores is empty. A tonga appears on the silent lane, loaded with vegetables and fruits, the harnessed mule tiktoking past the shuttered fronts, towards the village’’s exit. Close by, in a temple yard, a woman is worshipping under a tree, the massive trunk wound over with sacred red kalava threads.

In Chitli Qabar Chowk, the only human present is a recycler hauling a huge sack, probably filled with street discards. A brown dog jumps up from the side-drain, and violently barks at the man, who unconcernedly walks past the locked door of Chitli Qabar sufi shrine. (The grilled window is showing the darkened grave within.)

In Gwal Pahari, try to imagine the hills yet untouched by the day’s white heat. This reporter has explored the beautiful region in Gurugram during the day, but it must look even more beautiful when the summer’s hostile sun hasn’t yet raided the sky. With new towers flanking the distant background, Gwal Pahari preserves an old Aravali landscape that must have existed across Gurugram before most of it were flattened by the real estate builders. The area is still carpeted with trees. Neel Gai sightings are frequent. The roadside slopes are littered with instagrammable rocks and boulders.

Meanwhile, as the morning gives way to blazing noon, the city exteriors are likely to be emptied of citizens. The reality is different. The sun-soaked lanes continue to teem with pedestrians, including street vendors and labourers. In fact, on Eid this Monday, during the particularly scorching afternoon, the grounds around the India Gate were packed with picnickers. Summer was shown its place.