Saturday, March 21, 2015

Chandhi Chowk - Close Collision (Part 2)


A close collision of vehicles and human traffic.





Transcendence.

This is the topmost feeling a visitor could ever hope for when setting foot for the first   time time in a land as ancient as Delhi. Cities like Berlin, New York and Tokyo are driven 100% by capitalism. But Old Delhi is a different city altogether.


Once I've visted Old Delhi, I'm never ever going to be the same again. It's like the sounds and sights I've watched in movies suddenly came real with it's sudden burst of reality drowning me with its moving colors. This is the real India I came to fall in love with in the first place. Not it's stars and movies. But it's raw authenticity and extreme realism. All my petty problems and prejudices against other human beings suddenly vanishes together with the dusts and fumes of the vehicles passing by. And the vehicles come in all shapes and sizes too, same like its people. The roads are twice the size smaller than the ones in Tokyo. In very strange ways, the limited spaces seem to cram everything together in one square foot. And within that one square foot, I've discovered rubbish, spits, roadside vendors and folks rushing by like birds on some kind of exodus - travelling from one spot to another. And everything is connected so intricately, yet messily sometimes but always in a picture perfect moment. There's really no other place like Old Delhi. A place so ancient, I dare not spend the nights there! Just like Georgetown, Penang - haunted by its ghosts and spirits. Its people, especially those young men waiting at their trishaws waiting for customers, have that deep voided expression that I could fill colours in if I wanted, but refused to. Their looks are adorned with hardship but one that is by their own reckoning.


The chaotic lines of wires that connects the city.
I wish I could talk to them and hear their stories - which I'm definite it's way far better than any Bollywood movie could ever portray. They are such a mystery to me and I to them. But as men, a kinship is undeniable. These trishaw men have to cycle through the bustling streets of Delhi, competing against those buses and cars - how do they do it? It's the big against the small. They have to or they'll have no money to survive. An Indian friend told me it's because of their own ignorance that caused their current hardship. But I found that hard to believe. Nobody is born into this world expecting to live like this. Most, if not all, are without parents or families to rely on. Solo loners navigating this sea of people without any attachments or commitments. Perhaps they may even be happier cycling a trishaw than working in a corrupted government office! Nobody knows. Not even me. But the not-knowing of what the future holds is way better for me. This is because then you lose all perceived control of your live and finally just live one day at a time. This is how poverty seems so meaningful to people living with it. They don't want to know what happens next. They just let it happen. Like little creatures at the bottom of the jungle floor. And I am like them, a small foreign creature finding my way in this maze of masala. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

And like bliss, I become the water that flows with it. Throngs of people coming out from the train station, up to the streets that's housing even more people! My eyes cannot seem to focus on the people but instead become fixated on the old buildings lining the bustling streets. And the streets are still in construction at the time I arrived. Even on a working day, people are still moving endlessly like a river. Unlike in a more developed cosmopolitan city like KL, we have specific times when the shopping malls will be lesser traffic. But here in Old Delhi, specifically Chowdhi Chonk - scores of people moving about in their business without the concerns of any timetable. As I looked up and towards the end of the street, I spotted a dark red building that looked so familiar. My mind and body was too tired to be walking aimlessly and suddenly determined to walk towards that red building. As I walked, the road was so uneven and rocky. At one moment, I have to ducked under some wires and the next moment a worker would be carrying a giant sack of sand across me. Hurdles are meant to be crossed when you have a place in mind. And so I prodded on, even though my throat was beginning to feel patchy.


The Ice-cream street vendor
Like clockwork, I stopped by a man selling like what it seems to be ice-cream! I cannot stop myself to buy one - and there's no problem about choosing which flavors. There's only one - and it's the most delicious ice-cream I've ever tasted in my entire life! The ice-cream came in the shape of long phallic size, almost 8-inches. It is held by a sturdy stick. When I bite into it, the cold doesn't hurt my teeth at all! Instead, all the flavours were thick and almost chewable!  I can taste butter, thick syrup, condensed Indian milk and corns. I can't read Hindi, so I asked a friend I make in the plane and asked him about the name of the ice-cream. It's called Khoyakulfi. In the extreme state of ecstasy of tasting this phallic-shaped ice-cream, suddenly the whole tasty cream came off from the stick and fell onto the ground!  The Indian men watching me tasting the ice-cream gave me a sympathetic howl. I quickly picked it up and finished it off anyway!


Stray dog with one ear
When I first came across the ice-cream seller, a stray dog was already watching me by the side. It then followed me to the side when I first tasted that glorious ice-cream. The look  and fur of the stray dog looked so similar to my other childhood pet dog. I felt a sudden surge of affection for this poor dog and observed it's cute face. It has lost the top part of it's left doggy ear! Oh my gosh! I almost cried and nearly wanted to share my Khoyakulfi with it. But why was this poor dog so fixated on me? Did it mistaken me as it's long-lost master? I really wanted to ask this dog why is it following me. If only dogs could talk. Or I can talk in it's language. When I tried losing myself from it's fixation on me, it tried finding me frantically! I was hiding behind the passing civilians, and there it was prancing up and down the street looking...FOR ME! I gave it a pat on the head and wished it'll have a good life.


At the court of Red Fort
The last hurdle was crossing the main road where the red building finally came into its full viewing glory. It's the famous Red Fort! Giant, majestic and with quite some history. I walked across the road and immediately upon reaching the other side, a few trishaw and auto drivers began to persuade me to take their service. I smiled and continued walking on until I reached the perfect spot to take a picture.

To be continued..."Inside The Red Fort"


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