Thursday, March 11, 2010

A morning in Delhi

It happens often that I have a meeting in Delhi at 1100 am, and my train pulls in at 0530. Which means that I have 4-5 hours in Delhi when no cafes or shops are open. Previously, I would either sit in the railway station, or walk around Connaught place. Pleasurable, but everything paled when Mian introduced me to Karim's.
So the last time I was there, this is what I did.

I was travelling onwards to Bareilly (the train was around noon), and had a lot of luggage with me. First thing, then is to get rid of it. I checked  it in the luggage room at the station. Then caught the Metro to Chawri Bazaar.

Once there,I got out of the metro station- which is pretty deep, 6 flights- and found myself at the intersection of five roads. I asked for the Jama Masjid and set off. That walk was fascinating. I don't have pictures,because the most interesting things I saw were people. There were the 'barber shops' that were even more makeshift than the hole-in-the-wall joints that are so common everywhere. These consisted of implements laid out on a handkerchief on a handcart, in a doorway, on a pavement. They were busy too, with people getting a shave or a haircut- at 630 in the morning! There were bustling breakfast joints, and shops that were waking up. I couldn't help but compare the bustle of earning a livelihood here with the sleek fat-cat attitude of CP or South Delhi..

But then I stopped thinking, because I came across this.
 Architecture needs to be utterly magnificent if even scaffolding cannot mar the cleanliness of its lines. The Masjid-e-Jahan-Numa is that and more.

 But I am nothing if not a woman with a strong sense of priorities. And so I resolutely turned right when the road ended at the mosque's wall, then around the corner of the mosque, and then right again into a little lane, and then left into a little courtyard and so at Karim's . The scintillating, mouth-watering, awesome Karim's who cook the same luscious food for backpacking, unkempt me that they once did for the Mughal kings. It was only after I breakfasted on Nahari and roti (dinner for breakfast! the decadence of it all! wah!) that I thought of architecture and other such things.

But I am glad I went. The courtyard is huge, and the sandstone glows in the morning. There are several people walking, sitting, and gently starting their day. And I loved the monks meditating here. That is so India..
But the space is not just for people. There is a specially designated area (marked as a yellow rectangle) for pigeons where there is water and people feed them seeds.
The rest of the courtyard is used for prayer, but here they are allowed to mess around, and hang out in peace.
Largely, in peace anyway. As I was watching them, I noticed they were being hassled a little. It might have interrupted their conversation, but the effect was rather lovely.
The cause of all that upheaval? This little troublemaker..
Sitting in the couryard was beautiful ,and interesting, and peaceful. Earlier the morning hours would drag for me. This time around, I almost didn't catch my train!


Anonymous said...


a line in your article got me thinking.

let's hope the Women's reservation bill truly empowers.

that women's voices are truly heard ( and raised in the first place)

that it is not just a yellow rectangle where we will be allowed to hang out in peace.


Grumpy Granny said...

Lovely. And thank you for coming to read my blog. I am so happy you did, because it brought me to your blog and thereby made the world a bit smaller! You see, we have pigeons in Colorado, too, and that photo of them you took might have been in my backyard!

I hope your meetings went well and you had a safe trip back.


Ellie said...

I love your photos!

Gina said...

That is one of my favorite places in the world, I love it there, so many enlightening things have happened there for me. Did you know you can climb the minaret now? And that breakfast! Thinking of you.

Anonymous said...

..really, you say things so well..whether its words or images..

दीपा पाठक said...

That s say things so beautifully! I really enjoy reading your blog. keep writing.

दीपा पाठक said...

That s say things so beautifully! I really enjoy reading your blog. keep writing.