Wednesday, June 19, 2013

It’s surreal how New Delhi, the messy capital of modern India, wraps within itself its myriad pasts, to be revealed at will, and if you are at the right spot at the right time, you can almost do an impromptu time-travel. The other day, while returning from Sarai Kale Khan after dropping a friend at the Nizammuddin railway station, an autorickshaw driver hails at you and asks: “Bhayya, Yamuna-paar jaana hai?” (Brother, looking to cross the Yamuna River?) In an instant you are in the days of the Mahabharata, when Yamuna was the fearsome, life-giving force (not a glorified nullah), and you are a wayward traveller and he, your brother, is the lone boatman on the river’s deserted shore. For a while, you forget the heat.

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