Aritro Sarkar, UG ‘21 It’s unusual to pine for the absent, empty embrace of public transport,
Nishka Mishra UG’22
Illustrations By Somya Wadhwa UG’22
“Where are you guys?? There’s a huge line here. The passes are almost over.”
“I’m on my way. Save a spot for me, please!”
To approach the mess at 1:30 and watch a bunch of my batch mates rushing towards the atrium on a Saturday would have been a pretty common sight a few months ago. The shuttle, despite the vicious seat securing competition it entailed every hour, had become the marker and medium of many’s unexplainable love for city exploration. Rewarded with a 50-minute soundtrack of rumbling vehicles that never failed to induce the best nap one had for days, the journey to Delhi would often start as eventful as the destination itself.
“Hold up. We haven’t decided where we’re going yet.”
“Not CP. Anything but CP.”
“There’s always GTB. Wait, even better, let’s go to MKT!”
The mere mention of such places have a way of evoking certain emotions, remnants of the memories that have developed a bond with these weekend getaways. MKT, as one Ashokan puts it, conjures the visuals of a rackety commute by rickshaw only to be followed by a steaming plate of Laphing on the bench by the monastery. The haggled delicacies combined with the small and bustling alleys provided an all-around experience to many of us of the paradises that Delhi has to offer. Amidst the home-style macaroni, Karela Do Pyaza, and Khatta Meetha Petha, the thought of paneer rolls from GTB, steamy sweet potatoes from Sarojini and chicken momos of Hauz Khas manoeuvred the hours-long escape from the routine we’d created to survive our 8:30 classes.
For plenty of students, Delhi was a passenger train leading to stations tailored to the fulfilment of their dreams and destined encounters. Saaz Lahiri of UG 21 shared how Boulder Box, a unique gym, enabled her to experience the imagined adventures of her childhood of climbing to her make-believe fortress in real-time. A PhD student mentioned how they had the privilege of listening to a retired government officer play a few of his favourite flute melodies as they soaked in the therapeutic peacefulness of Lodhi Garden. As another Ashokan recounted, this metropolitan locale was also the source of educational insights. Describing the day as a sunny winter afternoon, she recalled attending a philosophy conference alone in IIC as one of the most fun and liberating trips she’d ever taken.
“C’mon… We’re never going to make it back in time unless we leave now.”
“Chill, it’s just 9:30.”
It’s unusual how time becomes a fleeting construct when surrounded by friends. Perhaps it’s wasn’t simply the passing of it but the forgetting of its presence that made it all the more interesting. Vibhor Garg of UG 21 mentioned how his measure of time was the way in which he and his friends crossed the same Taco Bell amidst the white pillars and confusing lanes of CP. Neha Nandakumar of UG 20 described GTB Nagar as her worthy stress reliever during finals week, despite the 3 hours it took to make the whole trip. Ayush Agarwal of UG 22 rightly said that the only moment in which time paid its due was when he tried not to miss the last shuttle back to college after hanging out at Hudson Lane.
From eating orange stuffed kulfi while sitting on plastic chairs in Chandni Chowk to getting lost in metro stations, the carefree (but polluted) breath of Delhi always delivered on its promise of impromptu escapes for me. In current times, to be passing through the gates of Sonipat and feeling the cool air of the metro appears to be a thought sketched into the pages of wishfulness. On some days, these memories feel just those, glimpses of times that are a long way from being experienced again. But at the end of the day, these remnants serve as a reminder, of the good that has come before and the hope that is to be held onto after.