Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Delhi of the Dead and the Sleeping: Safdarjung's Tomb

In the height of summer in Delhi,  you can walk down to the Lodi Gardens and relax, or walk a little further, straight down Lodi Road ending at the gates of Safdarjung's  tomb. While the walk is along the shady pathway,  there is no let up to the heat and sweat.

Walk on a little bit more, pay the Rs 5 fee, walk on past the waterbody onto the main building, climb up the stairs and collapse near one of the doorways, either side of the main entrance: the breeze is unbelievable  and calm and quiet is broken only by the laughter of college kids playing hide and seek: boys and girls free from supervision and perhaps the unwanted attention a single woman visitor garners:
Can I sit here?
It is a public place
Am I disturbing you?
Are you alone?
No, waiting for someone.
Do you work?
Is this your first time in Delhi
No, I keep coming for work
Do you like Delhi?
Not so much... need to be careful of Delhi folks.
Oh no, we have to change your impression..now that we have become friends.
We are not friends!
Are you married?
Are you from South India?
Are you Christian?
No [ my bindi must have fallen off with the sweat beads!]
So you are Hindu!
Slight nod. "No, I am pagan!"  remains in the mental realm
Do you have kids?
Yes, 10!
Oh! ...Silence for a few minutes
"This peace is beautiful and these silly college kids are breaking it..."
They are fine! I like it!

After finding out the fact earlier, Shri Govind was shaken off by a  remark to find out whether the door to the upper level was open or not.
By the time, Shri Govind went all around Safdarjung's  first upper level looking for the stairs, moi was down the stairs and out  through the entrance.

The ticket counter hosts the afternoon snooze of 3 employees  with the fourth one manning the counter.
A request for brochures and other documents gets a nod towards the empty display counter and a question towards one of the snoozers who obviously cannot make the effort and gives the usual Indian Babudom-brush-off, of finding it somewhere else and sometime later!!

With the kind of efforts and money being pumped by the GOI to primp the city in time for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, an eye and attention to Safdarjung's Tomb employees attitude might really  spruce up the monument!

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