Monday, 14 November 2011

Dawdling around Delhi

On a tourist-ty trip the other day I landed up at Indira Gandhi memorial. It’s a beautiful old, white building, with sprawling green lawns, a winding path, with a ‘crystal river’ on one end. The ‘crystal river’. It’s like a photograph in my brain, since I last came here 10 years ago. Every time anyone mentioned Indira Gandhi (for whatever random reason!!) a picture of the crystal river at the memorial popped up in my head.

For some half baked reason my confused conclusions about Indira Gandhi could be best described as “pretty cool you know…”… to elaborate further… school textbook stuff, how she had a strong personality, I knew the family history thanks to the newspapers and I knew she had been assassinated. Sometimes Sanjay’s controversial decisions came up, and I knew enough about Maneka Gandhi because of animal welfare work. More ideas were formed post the first visit – Indira Gandhi was a very strong willed person who was crucial for India’s growth, declared emergency, almost became a dictator (eeks!). And the crystal river was beautiful and became ingrained and associated with her name in my brain. I remember standing and staring at it, a beautiful reminder of a ghastly assassination. It made me sad.  

The house is as white and as gorgeous as I could remember. And the lawn, so lush…wow…yeh minister log full chill karte hai! The first thing I noticed on entering –so many people. Bits of garbled conversation boiled over me, and the crush of people just wanted to stare at that display just NOW! Even rock from Antartica! And all these people…they push and prod and stick and brush and breathe and sweat all over you till you start feeling like running out and yelling like Sheldon Cooper if he’s touched! Natural survival instincts kicked in and I cowered in a corner till most of the people moved on…
Indira Gandhi was really cool! Leaving the memorial it was easy to add to the film in my head – newspaper clippings, (I read the Bengali ones aloud for practice), the UN award for outstanding contribution to awareness on population issues (obviously, she’s Indian hehe!!). Her bird watching binoculars. The letter she wrote to Rajiv Gandhi about a tiger skin some Raja had gifted her. It’s all about protecting the environment, preserving the natural habitat of animals, and it fits in perfectly with the photo of her lightly stroking a tiger cub’s head. Oh, also, Sonia Gandhi was really hot, Indira Gandhi had some awesome armchairs and she loved dogs – there’s a pic of her with a pile of puppies on her lap! She lived in Pune and also was in Shantiniketan. And obviously, Delhi too. *same pinch* :p

But I was waiting to see the crystal river, waiting for that strange sad feeling. Perhaps the sad feeling didn’t come because I was pushed around at the crystal river too. But mostly I was thinking about what voyeuristic pleasures were consuming all the people, me included, trying to get a glimpse of the life of a person long gone. We were poring over every letter displayed, staring at the shreds of Rajiv’s clothes, peering to see the supposed blood stains below the glass, and trying to piece together the life of a lady, who had ventured places no man had dared to imagine invading.

Just by the way – I’ve finally figured out how to answer those pesky interviewers who ask me “what is your ultimate aim in life”. While I’d love to tell most of you to shut up and think of better questions or actually phrase your questions better, my temporary answer is going to be – to ‘work like a dog’!! Of course I’m gonna let you imagine I mean the figurative sense – i.e. very hard…but my actual aim is to do it literally! Take a look at this guy here sun bathing outside the I.G.M in the reserved parking lot! And the other chap below outside Nizamuddin Station. My life’s mission - to transcend to the tranquil lifestyle of Ms. PP Gupta soon… 

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