6:00 am – Pleasant morning. Might be a good idea to do some history spotting and photography.
6:30 am – Reach Hauz Khas Metro Station. The shutter to the underground railway station is half down. No one around. Feel for the pepper spray can in pocket & proceed with the safe feeling it provides.
7:10 am – Spot a pillar saying “Mehrauli Puraathathveeya Udhyaan” (Mehrauli Archeological Park) confirming that you are not lost. Excitement replaces the anxiety of walking alone on a deserted road with every passing cyclist slowing down to stare at you head to toe.
7:20 am – Set up tripod at Balban’s tomb. Two men appear from the foliage and come near you. The thought of pepper spray reinforces confidence.
8:00 am – Metcalfe’s Folly. Few uncles resting after their morning walk strike up a conversation with you – “beta, filum banaa rahe ho?”, “aajkal bachchon ki shauk hoti hai. . documentary banaane ka”, “nahi? toh kyun purane building ke photo lenaa?”, “aise hi? waah [all laugh]”. You think the world isn’t all that creepy anyway.
8:20 am – Marvelling the the moss near Quli Khan’s tomb. Over-protective uncle-ji arrives to give you a lecture.
“Nahin? Kahin akele to nahi ghoom rahe ho?”
“Akele? Photo lene? Dekho beta. . Itni subah akele maat ghooma karo.”
“Kyun? Kyun ki yahaan gandhe gandhe aadmi hain”
“Aise akele kyun jaana? Pata hain na zamaana kitna bigad gaya hain? Khud danger ko paas bulaana teekh nahi hain”
“Ghar mein tumhe aise akele kaise ghoomne dete hain?”
“Aise mat bolo. . Aaj kal ki ladkiyaan bhi. . Badon ke baat sunte hi nahin”
You can’t take it any longer. . You give him a lecture on how not just ‘subah’, ‘akele’ is unsafe and how the ‘gandhe aadmi’ attack people even at their homes. Show him pepper spray & in general, make the old man curse himself for attempting to give out unsolicited advice! 😛
8:35 am : Rajaon Ki Baoli. 5-6 dogs frowning at you for having invaded their privacy, but aren’t interested in protesting. You want to go down into the stair-well & click a few pics. But. . there is a young man who saw you coming and sat on the wall at the entrance. He has been looking at you since then. You think “Is this one of those ‘gandhe aadmi’?”. Idea of descending into the well dropped!
8:40 am : Searching for Gandhak Ki Baoli. Intend to go searching for the Bhoolbhulaiyya – Adham Khan’s tomb from there. Few more men pass you giving you the looks. One on a motorbike takes pleasure in startling you by whizzing past close to you. Dense foliage all around. Only dirty pigs and dogs there aren’t questioning your presence. You decide this is the area of the ‘gandhe aadmi’, turn around and walk back. With the pepper spray can in hand, one finger ready on the button.
8:50 am : Walking back to Qutb Minar Metro Station. The road that has come alive with vehicles, cyclists, fruit-cart-walas and pedestrians assures you of safety. The pepper spray has gone back to it’s nook in the backpack.
Thank you Uncle-ji. I gave you a piece of my mind confidently. But you managed to kindle the subconscious paranoia. I owe you the ‘pleasure’ of missing Gandhak ki Baoli & Adham Khan’s tomb.
Isn’t it sad? How we are programmed to assume that the world is creepy & dangerous? How you are never allowed to forget that? Especially if you are a female… Let alone over-protective uneducated uncle-jis in parks, even Profs tell you to lock the lab door if you work alone all night. . And to
try to make sure that atleast 2-3ppl are around.
I’m wondering. . Isn’t this “cautious” behaviour implicitly acknowledging that the ‘gandhe aadmis’ are in-charge? That the world is theirs to indulge in all kinds of crime? Telling them “We are afraid of you. We would curb our freedom & try our best to avoid you. But we’d never try to claim our right to be free by defying your taunts & threats. Please go around behaving as you please”?
If its one thing to visit well known historic sites and know about the people and events behind it, its another to visit an obscure site with ancient ruins, whose history nobody knows about!
It is particularly funny when these buildings are right amidst the busy city, in fact, scattered among modern buildings. I am talking about my first outing on my bicycle. . To the unnamed ancient structures nearest to IITD.
Nothing too special about them except their age – which too I guess, is unknown, for the ASI hasnt cared to put up a board or anything notifying it. These seem to be parts of some ancient fort or complex (possibly the Hauz Khas Tank or Siri Fort) which have stood the test of time and civilization when their neighbours have been razed down to make place for roads and apartments. No carvings, no exquisite domes, no astounding heights – nothing really interesting enough for a tourist in the conventional sense. BUT..
Being there gives a feeling of having an intimate chat with the past! No sexy-sleek-camera toting tourists interested in proving to the world that they had “been there and done it” by getting pictures of themselves clicked at the “right” spots with the “right” structures for backdrop!
With just a few birds for company (and a dog who objected to my company!), I probably painted the picture of a complete crazy-nerd with my adventure-gear (camera, tripod, ipod, huge water bottle, bag equipped with apples, sweets, thepla and Indira Gandhi’s political bio!) to amused on-lookers. But who says a crazy-nerd cannot have fun? 😉
Here are the pictures of history well taken care of, but not really cared for!
Back at the hub of modern day technology (IITD 😉 ), my first successful attempt at capturing fellow-inmates!
P.S : Women ask for directions! But Delhi men either say “I dont kno” or give wrong directions!! 😛