It’s been more than three years in Delhi and till yesterday I haven’t taken the metro. Delhi has been in a festive mood ever since the opening ceremony of Common Wealth Games , and it pinches me to think that i haven’t been a part of this historic event.
Out of the blue, at six thirty in the evening yesterday, i decide to be a part of the celebration.
” Lets attend ‘Delhi celebrates’ festival!” I tell my husband. “Let’s take the metro and explore Delhi, it’s going to be fun!” For a change, he agreed to my sudden plan and I checked the newspaper to see what’s in the schedule after eight pm. Qutub Festival suited us perfectly. The festival is famous for showcasing talent from different cultures across India to the backdrop of the classic victory tower built by Qutub-ud-din Aibak.
Most of the best moments in life happen when you don’t really plan. After we parked our car at Guru Dronacharya station Park and Ride, we bought a metro travel card each. I wonder when our next ride on the metro is going to be; nevertheless I hoped to travel often to Delhi to explore the place and culture I am so much in love with. Buying the travel card instead of the regular tickets proved to a wise decision. Besides the privilege of bypassing standing in queues (not that there was any huge queue), you also save an additional 10 % every time you travel. Moreover, you don’t have to be a frequent traveller to buy the card! Saving a rupee while travelling on the metro gives me a strange sense of satisfaction of being money wise. Never mind the splurge of thousands on a shopping spree in a mall when you save on things like this.
Having battled the bumper to bumper traffic on Mehrauli -Gurgaon Road for three and a half years now, what a breeze this journey turned out to be. I couldn’t appreciate the much raved about greenery of Gurgaon that you can see on your ride, as it was dark. The incidents of broken rear view mirrors, bent bumpers and innumerable scratches on my car which couldn’t be eliminated unless I repaint my entire car again, flitted through my mind. The sheepish look on my driver’s face when he hears a thud, the feeling of blood draining to my legs as soon as I hear the noise, the hopeless arguments that you have with the driver of the other car on whose fault was it anyway : I was so glad, that it was all going to be over!
In no time, we hopped off the metro at the Qutub station and hopped into an auto rickshaw waiting for us at the entry itself. The driver said he knew where the programme was held, so he would drop us right at the gate. I had a chat with the driver, and asked him a variety of questions ranging from the traffic at Lado Sarai to the significance of the number 786. Rahul was more than eager to answer my last question, when I told him that I wanted to hear the driver’s version. “Yeh hamara lucky number hota hai ji” the driver answered with a smile. I was happy that i brushed my skills in hindi and i learnt that 786 is saath so chiyasi. It is good to revise once in a while.
As soon as I reached the venue, I walked straight up to the cops at the gate and asked them where to buy the tickets. Imagine my disappointment and the look on Rahul’s face when he said “ Passes tho Dilli haat mein milenge aur ab tho bahut late ho chuka hai”. I cursed myself for venturing out like this unplanned. Rahul turned around and started looking for another autorickshaw. Looking at my disappointed face, he asked me “What do you want to do now? “. I didn’t dare suggesting going to Dilli haat only to find the place closed.
“There’s no harm in trying at the gate once” I suggested. I walked to the same cop and told him that we have come all the way from Gurgaon, and weren’t aware that you don’t get tickets there. The cop just smiled and said “get in”. Wow. This is so cool. I was a gatecrasher for the first time and I thoroughly enjoyed it. We walked through the Qutub minar complex . Qutub Minar looked all the more beautiful in the night. I wish I could capture its glory on my camera, but there is something I need to figure out on my Canon night portrait settings. As we walked a hundred meters we were stopped by another gentleman at the Complex gate. I just smiled and told him that I didn’t have the passes and the cops just let me in. He smiled back and said ‘ Koi baat nahi hai, you are welcome!”
Now this is what i call Forces of the Universe working for you.! After a usual security check we were let in and greeted with two cokes! There we were at the Kailasa concert which hadn’t begun yet. The open ground was so crowded that I thought, only if i were Sheila dixit, I would manage a place somewhere. For once I wanted to turn back. It is only then that I noticed that the left corner of the stage was empty and uninhabited. I wondered why people weren’t standing there when the whole ground was so jam packed. Probably because there were cops with automatic assault rifles dangling on their shoulders.
“ Ladies and Gentleman! Kailash Kher has just arrived” and there was a huge applause from the audience. The entire crowd was waiting there for more than an hour to get a place to sit and to listen to Kailash Kher. I slowly made my way towards the left corner of the stage hoping that no one would shoot me. Surprise surprise ! No one stopped me. I noticed a large wooden trunk which carried some equipment for the concert. It could accomodate two people and I gestured Rahul to sit with me. We both looked up at the cop who was right next to us. He smiled and said “ Abhi yahan se uth math jaana!” Other people who got there were chased by the cops and we waited for our turn to be chased out as the concert began. What an atmosphere it was. Just then there was another lady cop who asked me to get up from my self- made Gallery seat. This cop who was next to us stared at her and asked her not to trouble us. I wonder who this cop was in my past life that he was being so nice to us. She said” Sorry madam, CM saab aa rahe hai “
Before i had time to think or get up I see people being shoved around and there I see Shiela Dikshit one feet away from me. Now I realized that the left corner was unoccupied to make way for the chief minister! As soon as she was seated in the front row, we continued sitting there. I suddenly remembered the conversation that i had with Rahul when we were watching ‘ Zangoora the gypsy prince’ at Kingdom of Dreams. Rahul had told me that the most privileged seats in any theatre where the gallery seats on the side. That’s where Abraham Lincoln was shot when he was watching a play. That’s were we sat. Kailash Kher arrived and showered praises for the CM and that she was a true rock star. Sheila Dixit asked him to stop the praises and move on with some real music. His first song Teri Dewani sounded better than ever before. There is this sheer magic in his voice that has the ability to move people. The atmosphere was electric. He sang most of my favourite numbers like Allah ke Bandhe, Dhol vajda and the new number for the common wealth games. There’s this number called Babam bam that I heard for the first time.. It sounded ten times better than what it sounds here on youtube.
I loved his common wealth theme song too: Yaaro Jashn Manao! I don’t know how he manages to sing better live than these recorded videos!
The cop who was standing next to us started chatting with us. He asked us how we managed to get the passes. We repeated our story and he said that getting passes was extremely difficult and if we wanted any help we could contact him in the future. He even gave his phone number! As soon as he found out that i was a dentist he took my number and I more than readily offered him a complimentary orthodontic consult for his daughter: All this on the left corner of the stage! “Aap thanda piyenge? “ He asked. I am very sure Shiela Dixit must not have had the kind of treatment that we recieved! I can bet we had a better view of the stage! What more can one ask for?
As soon as the chief minister felicitated the band, Rahul wanted to get back as soon as possible. We had to find an auto rickshaw again. I walked back sipping my coke, smiling to myself thinking about the wonderful evening that we just had.
At the exit, a gentleman walks to us with a Namaste and a smile “Sir, do you want to reach the metro station, we have a complimentary feeder bus to the metro station for you here” :)
The turn of events that evening would probably happen only in India, in Delhi. Probably we are “like that only “!. But i would rather prefer us to be that way. I would rather see the smiling face of the cops than a grumpy old face shooing away the patrons of art and culture such as us. The evening turned out to be extraordinarily special because of the bada dil of the Dilliwalas. True to their name. What an evening it was!