Peoples and Places

In Bangalore, on Sundays, I used to walk down the stretch of MG road beginning near KC Das, turn into Brigade Road, amidst its shopaholic-auntie-sunday-boyfriend-outing millions, eat a softie at Nilgiris, sometimes meet a friend for beer at Pecos, and walk back along Residency Road. Homeward. This Sunday sojourn used to be my 'soak-in-the-sights-n-sounds-of-the-city' time. Also time dedicated to uninterrupted people-watching. Tall, bald white men, with dark, curly-haired lady-friends flirting over coffee. Engineering college boys in clusters, surrounding their lone woman friend. Laughing. Teasing. Clingy newly-married wives with their arms entangled in the elbows of bush-shirted, short-cropped, information-technology hubbies. Women getting out of Foodworld. With teenage sons carrying huge polythene bags of Herscheys, cartoned juice, family pack of detergent, basmati rice, frozen ham. Hippies buying city maps on the pavement.

In Delhi, I haven't found a good enough equivalent yet. But in winter, I did the odd afternoon-walk from Juma Masjid, through the Meena Baazaar, Chandni Chowk multitudes. The mandatory hour at Darya Ganj. Metro back from Chawri Baazaar. And some walks around Lutyen's, ending in Janpath shopping trip.

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Last winter, I spent a month in Delhi. And A took me to the India Coffee House behind Regal. We put our feet up, smoked cigarettes, ate mutton dosas, and diluted coffee. One of my most memorable evenings in Delhi. The CP India Coffee House somehow reminds me of Calcutta. Though the people-watching benefits are of a different kind. There are mehndi-haired government servants chatting over chai at all times. Sometimes long-haired drummers with intelligent, charming, PhD women. Sometimes sixty-something men in khadi half-shirts, talking about globalisation. And monkeys from the Hanuman Mandir, negotiating space with middle-class chitchat.....

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