28 December 2008
The distinct odor of exhaust and pollution hangs in the air. It covers the visibility of the sky above and sticks to my lungs. High above black Kites soar in circular patterns over the city. There isn’t a place nearby for a vantage on my two feet, although I’m not sure there’s much to see. It is warm, or at least to my perspective 50F degrees is warm. In the gray Seattle mist, 50F can be chilling. This sunny 50F in Delhi feels pleasant and welcome, considering I had left my normally rainy home with a foot of snow on the ground. So even when the overnight temperature in Delhi dropped to 40F, and Delhi wallahs were cold, I felt fine. No thank you, I don’t need an extra sweater.
The moment spent gazing at the soaring Kites in the afternoon haze is suddenly jarred by my reality of Delhi–a near miss with a person, animal, or vehicle of some sort. This time it was a man on a walk. This place isn’t crowded, I almost ran into him because I wasn’t paying attention. Wising up, I also notice there are runners. As I breathe in shallowly, I wonder how anyone could run in this stagnant choking air.
However, for the moment, I am satisfied with this mostly unobstructed walking path. Lodhi Gardens is one of the few places of clean open space in the densely populated city of Delhi. The walk exercises my legs, which are desperately in need of movement after 20+ hours of travel on packed planes the previous day.
My friend’s mother is chatting, and I chat, too, all the while my senses are on high alert, recording my surroundings for future use. Of special note are the ruins built by ruling powers of long ago. These structures stand in contrast to the families who sit on the open grass, talking and eating. I wonder about the families and their stories. The old Mughal period architecture surely has stories, too—of their builders, those buried beneath the stone, and of the millions of passers-by over the years…