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Beauty and the Feast 2017

Out of my comfort zone

Vinayak Deodhar

India

This is a true story of a young, rookie backpacker and how he fell in love with a city of gods, kings, sultans and the Indian Government: Delhi
On a cold, sultry morning, even before the sky had its first taste of sunlight, a large backpack could be seen trundling outside Delhi Airport. With no reservations and plans in the near future, Google maps would be the saviour. The backpack and its owner made their way through the thick smog that enveloped all Delhi mornings. The perils that industrialization had brought this ancient city. With minimum budget, the metro was the only means of travel, with the occasional autorickshaw or cycle rickshaw (a unique, labour intensive Indian transport). Having read so much about Old Delhi, the land of architectural marvel, the backpack almost opened up at the sight of the Red Fort. Built in 1639 completely out of red sandstone, this walled fortress continues to impress many a dreamy traveller. Even after 3 hours of wondrous exploring, it was still not enough. But beauty, as they say, comes rarely but comes in plenty. The Jama Masjid called out to weary travellers and religious devotees as he took in the fresh air and the crooked and crowded city from the highest minaret of the Masjid. The four massive gateways signified the four directions. Tired but with a satisfied heart, I decided to enter the winding lanes of Chandni Chowk. The rustic lanes with hundreds of overhanging wires and cables depicted what technology had done to a once serene street. From jewellery to vegetables to fake hair, you ask and Chandni Chowk will heed your wishes. The previous day's showers had left pleasant petrichor hanging over the air which brought back the backpacker's playful childhood memories. As if in tune with his thoughts, the next bend caught him with an aroma that had captured an entire country's taste buds. The famous Parantha Galli of Chandni Chowk. After a crash course in aesthetic beauty, the backpack finally came off his back as he lost himself in the hundreds of paranthas (An Indian Bread), not much unlike a grand feast after a long day's work. At the end of the day, the traveller felt like a protagonist in the Beauty and the Feast.


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