Friday, June 10, 2011

Lodhi Garden

This was the name of my Gurudwara for sixty six months, no less. Located strategically on the stretch of the Chinmayya Mission and Mausam Bhavan, its outer track took me twenty minutes to cover with a slow jog. Three rounds was my regular diet, more or less. It was the most liberating hour of my day while it lasted. There, along the verdant path, below the bougainvillea inhabited cover, I held my own private conversation. With myself !

It was like sitting across my mirror image. My reflection and I. We agreed on some things, disagreed on most. There were declarations of resolve, expressions of solidarity and support, voicing of agonizing self-doubt, berating the self for words said or unsaid, silent prayers and pacts with the Supreme Executive above and by the time I was done, there was that stubborn gathering up of the self, “I am going to see this through.”

I did break step occasionally, startled at the thought that my face may have given away, the intense conversation going on in the head, but a quick glance around was enough to reassure me that everyone else was also deep in their personal hells and heavens.
I loved Lodhi Garden. At any given time you would be sure to come upon an artist, a musician, a cooing couple, a sportsperson limbering, a photographer going berserk and the regular dog walkers. Of course, there were the picnickers, the loiterers, the gardeners and the celebrities. Jairam Ramesh walked late in the evening. I would get this strong urge to confront him and say, “Keep up the good work, Minister!” Swami Agnivesh ambled leisurely. Robert Wadra ran in camouflage, the track dotted with his security. The Chief of Army Staff and his lady wife made for a very handsome couple. Quite a human panorama on display there. I had the fortune of hearing some fascinating tit bits over the shoulder, of amazing travels, phenomenal deals and the regular daily wear and tear of lives in the metro.

On weekends there would be these “tea pools” a la “car pools”; a bunch of people getting together for a steaming cup of masala chai on a Delhi wintery day. You had to just rest a moment on a bench there and a lazy peace would descend. There would steal up, this feeling of being in a cocoon, isolated from the hurly burly of the capital’s traffic. More than once, the hot aloo puri being doled out by one religious organization or the other, challenged my weight loss agenda.

Oh the Frisbees, the tag game, the laughing clubs and the yoga demonstrations. There was an easy, benevolent, unspoken camaraderie in the garden air. Asawari would accompany me at times, to stretch her limbs on some days and the lungs on others. A small crowd would gather around her, watching her turn, twist and split. They would converge again some other day, to listen to her play the flute.

Come what may, I kept my date with the Lodhi Garden those few years.

At the end of that hour, as I made to exit, one way or another, I would have made my peace.

Note: All pictures by N P Jayan

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