A date with Delhi’s roads

“From despondency to gratitude”
by: Abhijit Bhattacharya / bhattacharya_abhijit@ongc.co.in

“If you play volleyball, you have the potential to represent the country and can visit the capital city”. Thirty years ago, a small town coach said these words to a young boy from Assam. That boy went on to represent the national team and re-discover himself in the streets of Delhi. This city gives you the comfort to call it “My city” no matter which part of the world you come from. You become addicted to it and that’s why I love it.
 
Caution: The love can turn to addiction with time.
 
One summer evening, I was completely drained out after a stressful day at work. The rush hour traffic added to my irriation and completley perplexed, I decided to leave my car and walk back home. Lost in my own thoughts I suddenly noticed India Gate right in front of me.
 
The vast openness of Rajpath mesmerized me and acted as a tranquillizer to my ruffled mood. Looking at the sun retreating behind the Rashtrapati Bhavan, I recalled my childhood memories from Assam where we used to listen to our teacher narrating stories of this same place.  We used to imagine the Rashtapati Bhavan as a big house, and India Gate to be located on the border from where foreigners entered India! But never in our wildest dreams did we think of Rashtrapati Bhavan to be so magnificent, and India Gate to be located in the heart of the city. It was an exhilirating experience to walk past these beautiful monuments which were so close to my office.
 
My mood was uplifted and my thoughts kept changing fast. I continued to walk through Mansingh Road. There was a roundabout where Mansingh, Aurangzeb (now Abdul Kalam), Prithviraj, Shah Jahan and Motilal Nehru Roads meet.  Interestingly, all these roads which are named after great Hindu and Muslim leaders end at a Christian cemetery. I entered the cemetery for a few minutes and felt “No matter how high & mighty we are, all have to finally rest in peacebeside each other.”
 
The gentle breeze from the giant green trees gave me a feeling of contentment. I decided to continue walking through Golf Links. The palatial bungalows on Arch Bishop Road truly reflect the prosperity of this city. With tall gates and huge boundary walls, these bungalows were well protected by guards. Then I saw a security guard open one such gate for the owner’s car to enter. I wondered how owner must be returning from the office after a stressful day. On any other day, I would have envied the luxury of this person. But on that particular day, I saw the Bentley enter the bungalow without me staring inside. I thanked God for giving me the wisdom to differentiate between material richness and richness of thoughts.

After an hour of walking, I felt quite refreshed. At the edge of Lodhi Road, I entered the Methodist Church. I sat down for a while and enjoyed the silence. I was completely at peace with myself. Peace and silence are a rarity in a city like Delhi and come at a premium.

On the way I made conversations with security guards, beggars, and strangers and also stopped over to eat kulfi and golgappas. That evening I reached home in Lajpat Nagar almost two hours late. My two daughters and wife welcomed a lively man that night. All my frustrations were left behind in the streets of New Delhi. I entered my home with a sense of pride and love for my city.

Photo Credit: GoInTheCity