1 May 2008

Who walks in that park?

Being a dilliwalah you should walk - I had written earlier and the New York Times agreed.

Each of the localities have their own parks where people come out in the mornings. Most of them know each other and the parks are often a place to catch up on colony gossip. But in some cases the parks are huge like the lake park near my house which attracts an interesting mix of people whose profile keeps changing throughout the day.

This is mostly men, old RSS types and some of the older folk who are fit enough to venture out early. The men of course do not do any house work therefore can venture out any time. Their wives follow an hour later when the children have gone off to school. The RSS types are the funniest - with their inflated shorts saluting a strange flag and doing exercises. It almost looks like NCC cadets Senior Citizens section.

The busiest time. Almost all of the older folk and women land up now. The children have been dispatched to the prison houses (schools) and houses are generally empty. This group has a sense of purpose as they go about walking vigorously discussing problems of their lives and sharing gossip. The activity is often combines with buying groceries from stalls out side the park. You identify the stuff before the walk and the boys deliver to your house an hour later.

By this time many of the young Jat boys come out to exercise in the open air gym in the park. With a rudimentary set of equipment they pretend to be seriously working on their bodies while checking out the handful of girls who are walking at the same time. The older folk sit around the lake, talking. They seem to enjoy the location since they have time on their hands.

Most of the crowd has now gone back home. In fact in summer no self respecting Punjabi would be seen walking in the heat. A group of school kids play cricket in one corner of the park while college girls and their dates sit on isolated benches whispering. While this park is not a famous one like Lodi garden or Nehru Park since it is so huge and convenient in terms of location (near Pusa Road and now on the Metro Line) it is often used during the day by people from other parts of the city. The office crowd can be seen resting in or crossing the park to go towards Rajendra Place or the Metro station throughout the day. Hawkers in that area use the park to rest during the day.

However one group that I have never seen this side of town are the kids of the former landowners of the area. In many parts of South Delhi, the land for colonies like Green Park or GK1 was acquired from farmers or landowners 30 or 40 years ago. But the owners continue to stay on in villages like Humayunpur or Chiraag Dilli. They had become rich due to the sale and their children pass time playing cricket or playing cards since they do not have a need for work. Maybe the owners of lands in Patel Nagar and Karol Bagh have shifted a long time ago since these areas are almost 30 to 50 years older than South Delhi colonies.

Have you noticed who uses the parks near your house ?

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