The jury is out on whether Delhi winters have waxed or waned, over the years. But for an evening’s worth of the typical Delhi nip, head out to Dilli Haat. From the parking attendant’s muffler to the smoky coils rising over the peanut cart, there is that delicious hint of snugness in the air. Holding out the prospect of a cosy cove inside, the brightly lit and festive market never fails to restore and refresh, particularly at night during these culturally prolific months in Delhi.
Once in, you come upon a gentle, unhurried hustle and bustle; a virtual feast strewn as far as the eye can see; there is glitter with glow and glamour alongside gastronomic adventures. The vendors are laid back, there are plenty platforms and culverts to park upon; it’s ticketed gate affording the place a cocoon like air so you can hang around until 10 pm with nary an alarm. The hushed hubub doesn’t seem like any heavy duty business is afoot but there is a muted level of leisurely, commercial engagement. People stop, peer, feel and move on. Quite clearly the objective is to hang about and absorb the sights, sounds and smells.
A great spot for the family and duos, there is a comforting sense of anonymity for the solo too. No one will intrude upon a marathon session of plain people watching. It is perfect for the curious and observant like me, food and drink being readily available nearby and there stretching a full canvas of humanity to share space with and appreciate. With the festival of India in aggressive gear, enjoy the added bonus of any number of authentic folk performances that will have you marvelling at the national diversity.
There are people all around,celebrating a day out, surrounded by loved ones. Having done with 'Srikhand Puri', my delicious, buttery, piping ‘pooran poli’ forms the perfect foil for incisive thoughts: the Delhites around, their apparent group dynamics, even as they demolish 'dosas' and 'channa bhaturas'......is there another, more lethal craving inside, I wonder? Does the same flame burn in every heart? The universal hunger for approval, security, appreciation and acknowledgement? The need to be right? The desire to be free of blame and guilt? The yearning to break loose of expectations; the tearing free of stereotypes? The freedom of not having to live up to an image or live down some other pipe dream; the poignant tragedy being that those closest to you perhaps, find it the hardest and take the longest to penetrate these externally created and foisted illusions to really reach you.
If this isn’t ‘maya’, what is?!