Hauz Khas Complex
We wanted to go to an outlet at Hauz Khas Village and that’s how I stumbled upon the Hauz Khas Complex. It swept me off my feet, in slow motion. Was surprised to find that a crazy number of youngsters had parked their backsides there, enjoying the winter sun.
As the camera was accumulating dust in Hyderabad, I strolled around lazily and took in the activity. Two Bengali boys with a camera arguing jocularly about photo credits, a group looking for flat space to sit around for birthday celebrations (cake, cold drinks the works), another one (all girls) looking for “privacy” to bring out their stash of cigarettes and alcohol and yet another group of boys with a guitar merrily singing away. Of course, twosomes, looking for a cosy corner. Lots of cameras. A security fella walking around with his lathi . No one was in anyone else’s way and I was not pushed and shoved despite the crowd.
A sense of deep peace amidst such a high energy space. I've only felt that once before and that was ironically (for some) on my way back to the hostel , one humid night in a Bombay local.
Another feel good day in the city was at the Zoo. My memories of the place are of otters (I think that’s what they were), a white tiger, a white peacock, a very pale skinned snake and a happy picture of all of us on a bench under a tree (a winter afternoon).
After a lot of clash in plans and traffic jams that almost made me weep, we did finally make it to the Zoo . The steps leading inside threw up a memory or two. A tiny me worrying that all of us would get lost in the crowd on the stairs and another one of Preeti prancing around on the same stairs (must have been two different visits). I think this pretty much defines how we were as children.
Mum recalled that during the years when she carted us all here, the Zoo was full of a variety of people (nationality, class, regions etc). This time however not much of that was on display. What did really surprise me was that fact that the Delhi folks were actually much better behaved than the mass we encountered at the Hyderabad Zoo. The Hyderabad crowd was crazy, unruly, harassing the animals with shouts and pebbles and their attempts to feed them. Both experiences were contrary to my unconscious expectations (stereotype?).
This trip the four of us strolled around saw the residents, played with random kids, talked and laughed. We had great time with one or the other periodically exclaiming “abe who dekh” or its Malayalam equivalent. Papa couldn't believe that the crocodile was for real (he says it was cast in stone!) , Preeti fell in love with a Hippo, Mum let out a series of exclamations when she saw some brilliantly coloured large parrots and I’m starting to take hesitant steps towards appreciating the city again.
Discovering the complex, the lake and walking through the zoo with all this life throbbing around was very refreshing. Refreshing is not an association I easily make with the city, maybe it was the warm winter sun and the slight chill in the air that worked its magic. Dilli ki sardiyon ki dhoop. Never mind the allergic sniffles and the fact that it takes miraculous will power to get out of the blanket on winter mornings.
Looking forward to being home again …..soon.
Thanks Preeti for the images (psst ...can I have some of the Zoo please , especially the one where you managed to make the Emu look evil?).
Post Script- The emu is here now!
Post Script- The emu is here now!