Guest article By Jibin George.
Every resident of Delhi must have visited Delhi’s epicentre, Connaught Place aka CP. The place is a familiar one to most people, and if asked for their experience at CP, the answer would be close to being “great and crowded.” Great implies to the wonderful social experience the place has to offer with a range of shopping sites laid out in a two-layered circular field, whereas Crowded, is simply an understatement. The term Rush Hour is the true nature of this place, with the never ending wave of people coming to CP, especially using the equally crowded Metro Station, Rajiv Chawk. This place is collection of people, vehicles, shops, clubs, and everything else people need to relax and make merry.
But, ever wondered how it looks at the early hours of the day? In an aim to see the different side of this area, I set out to for this place at 7:00 AM. And I realized that this place’s another face was as exciting as the primary well-known face. The experience was almost the same, yet extremely different. To me, it felt like a different world altogether.
The first thing I noticed was the near-empty streets and roads. I used the term Near-Empty, not because of the presence of ordinary vehicles and people roaming around, but due to the numerous people who were involved in the cleaning process of the area. I was wonderstruck at the clean environment that I was at, which earlier I’ve always found to be dirty to the limits.
The first spot that I reached on my journey towards CP was the Janpath market. Unlike the main market of CP where every stuff comes in a moderately good premium, Janpath market deals in non-goodbranded items and a pretty good price. However, this place is also a typical market with shopkeepers and Sherpa’s yelling out prices and discounts. But this time, this place seemed like a deserted town, with only two people present there. One was a merchant who was setting up his shop of wood crafted idols of Buddha. The other was an old-aged man who was fixing the board of a shop. I don’t know if he was a shopkeeper or just a service man since he did not respond to anything I asked him, but kept on staring at me like I’m not from this world, and so I moved on. I was liking this freedom of free walking.
After crossing the Janpath market, towards the left was clearly visible the British architecture of Connaught Place. The first board that caught my eye was of ‘Teddy Boy’. Its amusing name with yellow accent on red background was an eye-catching combination. Walking through the various blocks of the market, there were many interesting stores I saw, well interesting store names, which included ‘Farzi Café’ and ‘Lord of the Drinks’. There were also many spots that appealed to me due to the inclusion of the year of establishment in the name banner, like the ‘United Coffee House since 1942’. These types of minute details are often not observed while coming to this place during the regular working hours of this place.
As far as the population here was concerned, what I observed was that there were many people who were here for a good nap. Some of these people were here due to calmness of nature, and others were here because they had no place. Among such a crowd of sleeping people, presence of dogs was also a common sight. They were also enjoying their sleep time as though they knew that by the time the clock reaches 11, their sleep will be disturbed for sure. Then there were the street urchins here and there, getting ready with their work objects, which usually was either stationary items or cobbler’s shoe polishing kit.
The most welcoming sight of all of these was the bird feeding areas, how the pigeons were present in big groups to attack on the food people gave them, and there were a hearty number of people present to give them food. There were few shops especially set up for people to buy bird food. I was happy that there was a bond between humans and birds.
Around 9:30 AM, there was an evident increase of the population of people in that area. Security people were opening up shops and most shops had their shutters half open. The buying population was waiting for the shops to say that they were open. They crowd in the roads had bumped up and traffic signals had started functioning by now. The post office of CP was already attending to customers while the cleaning staff were doing their part. All in all, the CP as I had known and experienced earlier, was taking back its form.