City Hangout - Hindi Park, Old Delhi

City Hangout – Hindi Park, Old Delhi

City Hangout - Hindi Park, Old Delhi

A Walled City escape.

[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]

In parks, people often loll on the grassy ground. This afternoon, scores of men (only men) are plopped down in Hindi Park. Curiously, not on the cushiony grass, but on the hard concrete of the walking tracks. Their pants are torn, the shirt buttons are missing. Some bear a gaze hauntingly vacant.

Very much in Old Delhi, Hindi Park feels far from Old Delhi’s cramped chaos. Maybe because it happens to be in the vicinity of Ansari Road. Closer to the Yamuna, this part of the historic quarter is more spacious and less crowded. Indeed, a more well-heeled segment of the park regulars happen to be daily refugees from Purani Dilli’s congested addresses. Sitting beside a bunch of card players, the elderly Muhammed Saleem of Tiraha Behram Khan explains that “I’m retired, and I come to the park to spare my daughters-in-law from being conscious of my presence all the time in our small home.” A man in kurta pajama says he comes from Jama Masjid in search of “sakoon.”

Lying on a walking track, a man in disheveled hair and salt-and-pepper beard says he has no address. “My family had three people, all gone.” He vaguely gestures towards the other men lying listlessly on the same track—“homeless.”

The garden is arrayed out into a network of lawns. The women-only section has a solitary visitor, lunching on a bench, simultaneously watching something on her mobile phone, which is perched atop her stiff handbag.

The park is otherwise full of peepals, banyans and palms. The air is hyperactive with bird sounds; the twittering is sheeted with the muffled roar of Netaji Marg traffic. The resident cat is bold, her furry coat is glossy black, her eyes a pair of green diamonds.

Frustratingly, nobody is able to give gyan on the park’s name. The gardener has no clue either. A stone plaque outside is remotely helpful, describing the region as “Hindi Park Housing Area” having “two-storied houses built around the park during 1930s” with “large courtyards, circular columns and first floor verandas.”

Some of the buildings overlooking the park do look stately and graceful, but these aged edifices are punctuated with modern multi-stories. One more multi-storey is under construction, indicating that a new world is fast blossoming around Hindi Park.

A place in the world

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City Hangout - Hindi Park, Old Delhi

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City Hangout - Hindi Park, Old Delhi

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City Hangout - Hindi Park, Old Delhi

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City Hangout - Hindi Park, Old Delhi

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City Hangout - Hindi Park, Old Delhi

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City Hangout - Hindi Park, Old Delhi

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City Hangout - Hindi Park, Old Delhi

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City Hangout - Hindi Park, Old Delhi

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City Hangout - Hindi Park, Old Delhi

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City Hangout - Hindi Park, Old Delhi