The Colonial Mélange

The Colonial Mélange

3 mins 24.1K 3 mins 24.1K

Coming out of gate number seven of the Rajiv Chowk Metro Station is like stepping into a world of paradoxes. I am instantly hit by the glowering sun overhead, forcing me to squint my eyes to take in the rush of activity. Popularly known as Connaught Place, it is the colonial heart of the national capital - a sprawling circular market that was built to assuage British homesickness.

I take the well-practiced route to my destination, but like always, I am unable to hold myself back from a rush of excitement I feel every single time that I am here. The intimidating yet supreme pillars stand together to usher you to the vivacious mélange. I can almost feel the numerous restaurants and shops calling out to me to pay them a visit; it is difficult averting away your eyes from those dazzling clothes. The delicious food will have to wait.

As I advance towards Janpath, I feel like I am entering a new world altogether – a sharp contrast to the commercial order I left behind. I don’t miss it much as there are only a few things that can match the fun of street shopping and I am sure every Dilliwala  can relate to this – no matter how much we shop at the most expensive showrooms and malls, nothing can replace the joy of haggling with the vendors at places like this. It takes me considerable time to square in on the chunky jewellery and artefacts I want to buy, but there are no regrets. It was time and money spent well.

Not in a mood to splurge on food, I decide to eat at Hotel Saravana Bhawan, a South Indian veg eatery which is my go-to place. I eat their onion masala dosa and wash it down with a cup of filter coffee. Satiated, I head back out.

Just as I approach the nearest metro station gate, the stark reality rears its ugly face. Chiming little kids surround you in a jiffy – some desperate to sell that packet of five pens and some straight away plead for money. Not much farther, a handicapped old man is sitting at the entrance to the station, driven to the sidelines with this clutches in his ragged and worn out clothes, still with a hope in his eyes that some benevolent stranger would help him stay alive. Next to him, a young man is standing upright with a donation box in his hand, looking into the distance. I wonder how long he has been standing like that. Even though there is a sea of people who rush past him, no one really sees him; it’s like he is invisible.

The very next instant, I feel someone tug at me gently. A girl of no more than six years pleads with me to buy a cup of chai. And amidst all this, the tricolor sways mightily in the background, proud of what I cannot fathom.

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