I woke up three times to the beats of ‘Fast Lane’ on my phone in the morning at 6:30; out of bed with the third time while it was drizzling outside. I would call it a peculiar day since the serene and silent weather with drizzle outside is quite rare at Delhi. Well, it actually is Haryana but since my college, where I stay, is only 50kms away from Delhi and is in the National Capital Region, I’d prefer calling it Delhi. The previous day, five of my friends and I made a plan to venture into Delhi – just to roam around different places – to go as far out as time and money allow us to – and believe me that’s not too far!
Though I didn’t have much interest in the plan, I anyway had to get ready for I promised my friends. After a quick bath, preceded by general morning activities, I called up Prashant, the chief organizer, put formally, or at least he acted so. Surprisingly, he wasn’t ready yet and same was the case with rest all too. Happy that I had some time for myself then, I opened Charles Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’ to assuage my addiction of at least 50 pages of a book per day. After I went 30 pages deep into the book, my phone rang and on the line was Kuldeep, another member of the trip that awaited, asking me to join them in Prashant’s room.
From the ever energetic Prashant’s room, he, Kuldeep, omniscient and fun loving Raja, supple and calm Indraneel, and mysteriously unfathomable Sohil and not very interested myself headed to the dining hall of our university and breakfasted on scrambled egg, bread and mixed fruit jam, mango pulp and other such savory items. Then we got into our cab that we booked and started off to Delhi. The driver had tough time making way through the muddy roads that were sometimes interspersed with foot deep clogged water while we talked and talked our minds out on different issues ranging from politics of our native states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to the venue of our lunch.
The weather was very affable with not a glint of proper sunshine that rid us of our vexation over ever present sharp heat from over our heads. On the other hand, I was shocked at what I was seeing on the roads. Delhi was not what I expected it to be like. It was all garbage around that we could see. In fact, garbage was heaped beside the roads in hills sized heaps – pity the people out on the road. And the people around that we were passing were in no way urban. I obscured this savagery from my mind and enjoyed the weather and the company as we made our way into the city to the Trivoli PVR movie theatre.
Then we entered the theatre and bought tickets for Mary Kom movie. It was a small theatre but a good one with enough courtesy to call the customers, sir! Kuldeep started to feel uneasy suddenly, which he said was due to the cab ride and the sudden jerks and breaks of our fast and furious cabbie. The movie was satisfactory and the popcorn that Kuldeep brought in spite of the uncomfortable feeling in his gut made the experience enjoyable. From there discussing our opinions on the movie we got into our cab that took us about fifteen minutes to find amidst the crowded and haphazard roads of Connaught place Delhi. From there, with our tummies rattling, we headed to Andhra Bhavan, which was much praised for the typical Telugu food it offered.
After a ride through scorching heat of Delhi, we arrived at Andhra Bhavan. Much to my expectations, it was depressing with all the vaunt and extolment in mind. I expected a modest place to feast though not a flamboyant star hotel. But the place was pathetically crowded with little place to eat. Anyway, restricted by options because of my friends’ penchant towards Telugu food, we all had a heavy lunch that very much exceeded our breakfast. The menu was very Telugu but the taste didn’t satiate me much since I am a person who loves typical Hyderabadi flavors with strong mint and spice but the food provided was, I believe, bent more towards Andhra style which is more supple and mild in its taste. But in the end, the ice-cream we had after our lunch had done justice to our efforts of coming to the place and fighting for food among the crowd.
After lunch, to my incessant pestering, we all went to a place that housed one of the biggest figures of Indian freedom movement and its first Prime Minister, the dynamic and brilliant, Jawaharlal Nehru: Teen Murti Bhavan. Ever since I read the books, Discovery of India, Glimpses of World History and An Autobiography, written by him, I had been an ardent fan of Nehru and his life. Though he was from a family of great wealth and political power, I am greatly inspired by the depths and insights he possessed in multitude of topics, the amount of work he put into practice to push India forward and the struggle he had undertaken for freeing India from the Colonial crutches. Ever since I read his autobiography, ‘An Autobiography’, I yearned to visit all three of his houses that he used in different parts of his life; the later part of his life passed in the Teen Murthi Bhavan.
Unlike the other two rich and palatial houses of his, Teen Murthi Bhavan is a modest house for a Prime Minister of this worldly stature. Every room I passed in the building, every piece of furniture, and every wall seemed to possess some part of Nehru in them and this was just amazing for me – passing through walls that sheltered Jawaharlal Nehru. Me and my friends took a hundred pictures of the house and then went into the souvenir shop to see if we can lay our hands upon anything interesting. And eventually ended up buying many items like books, book-marks, badges, Nehru’s will and other such souvenirs. With this my thirst of visiting the Teen Murthi Bhavan was quenched and that seemed to be more of a relief to my friends than to me! And then, this was followed by a drive by our ever lost and desolated driver around the Indian Parliament, Supreme Court and Rashtapathi Bhavan.
After all this, it was now Prashant’s time – ‘the trip organizer’s time.’ Prashant, one of my closest friends (along with Kuldeep and Raja and others of course) knew a judge of Supreme Court who stayed in his quarters provided by the government in Delhi. Knowing a Supreme Court judge is a great deal and so did we, friends of his, give good respect to this aspect of his. His plan was to spend an hour or two with the judge at his residence along with Indraniel too. We rolled around on the Tughlak Road for a while trying to explain to the driver the route to the judge’s house that we in the first place didn’t know! After treading amidst houses of various central ministers of India, looking at them in awe, we found the right house. We dropped them there and bid adieu and started planning about what we, the four left in the car, would do till they are done at the justice’s house.
Lot of argument passed as to where we should be going and then, google maps solved the problem by suggesting national museum that was just a couple of miles away. Ergo, we started to the museum which was the best part of the trip, without much prior knowledge though, about how exciting it would be. I was always fascinated about things and happenings of the past; the older they are the better! And what I saw in that museum that day, I guess, were the oldest man made things I’ve ever seen – sculptures and accessories of people who lived way back in the past; things of our ancestors and their legacies. In the starting were a few sculptures of Chola period and its contemporaries that cast the first spell on me holding me stupefied.
Later came, the actual magnanimity. Into a room we entered that was filled with relics and articles that were of the Harappan civilization. Every item in the gigantic room was about 5000 years old. Amazed by their age, we proceeded by articles that ranged from earthen pots to human skeletons of that age – of men and women that were the first to sow the seeds of civilization – to give this planet then status of ‘world’ which was previously just a mere heavenly body flying in space (with life on it of course!). Goosebumps were on the roll while we were on the stroll around the room. Then came a call from Prashant and Indraniel that deprived us of all the fun that the museum had yet to offer. They were done with their rendezvous with the Justice and wanted us to come to pick them up urgently, what the urgency was for is still an enigma to me.
We went back to the Judge’s house and they were standing outside. They got into car and apprised me of their jaw-dropping plan for the night of staying at the Judge’s. Shocking it definitely was to know that they were staying at a Supreme Court judge’s house for a whole night. But they were to spend time with us for an hour or two in Delhi after which the day would be called so and they would depart from us. The nearest thing we found this time that matched the majority’s interest was India Gate. And so we headed to it with great interest. It had been a few years since I visited it like others in the car and hence the interest was enhanced.
Our super flexible and spontaneous driver couldn’t find a parking place between half a kilometer form the destination and so we had to traverse the pollution filled busy roads to reach it. But at the end of the walk, I felt it was worth for the distinctive identity of The India Gate and what it symbolizes is just too distinctive to disallow it from reaching our hearts and kindling the generally dormant patriotism to life. The faint crimson radiance from the setting evening sun quarter covered by the Gate added very much to the scenic beauty of that moment. After enjoying a few rare beautiful moments there, we decided it was time to drop the two chaps of ours back at the Justice’s house and head back to university. We walked back and allowed our exceedingly quick driver(!) a good half an hour to find his own car in the parking area after which we dropped by at Tughlak Road for Prashant and Indraniel, wished them bye and started back to our hostel.
A two hour journey back to the university with the three of my tired friends was the last thing in this trip of ours to Delhi. It was 9:30 in the evening and a good dinner was waiting for us at the university. And hence, we addressed its wait with much gusto and had a sumptuous meal. Together, we headed back to the hostel talking about all the good things of the trip, blinding ourselves of the bad ones. It was a very good trip with these good buddies of mine Prashant, Kuldeep, Raja, Indraniel and Sohil that I personally enjoyed a lot. Reaching hostel, we hugged each other a good night and relieved ourselves to our respective rooms. With good enthusiasm, I rested my feet on my bed with the ‘Great Expectations’ in my hands and went a twenty or so pages deeper into the book to compliment the thirty I read in the morning with the drizzle outside.
Thus was my trip to Delhi on the sixth of September, 2014…