INDIA. Delhi: The pandemic has subsided and is on the way to be declared as an Epidemic. Monsoons too have just started its return journey. Early morning weather is giving chills to morning walkers. One of such bright mornings when the air was crisp and the sun was mellow, I decided to walk approx one kilometer from the metro station to the office. This was my first walk on Chandani Chock streets after its recent renovation.
Also, this natural exercise was overdue as I was putting on lockdown weight. I felt relieved of stress as I slowly came out of the narrow sidewalk. My regular rickshaw wallah was waiting for me, but I told him to look for other passengers today.
I took the first sip from the hot terracotta cup at my regular first stop, the street-side tea stall. The refreshing ginger tea infused me with a new energy that I needed for the walk. I glanced at the Sisganj Gurudwara that stood there in memory of the great sacrifices that the ninth Sikh Guru, Guru Tegh Bahadur has made. It was a joy watching a constant stream of devotees visiting the historic Gurudwara. I also bend down in prayers and moved on after finishing my tea.
Chandani Chock was warming up to a new day of business. Shops were opening and getting cleaned. I just walked past the McDonald’s outlet at the Kumar Cinema building, another old cultural gem. The Kaan Safai wallahs (Ear cleaners) were busy with their clients as usual.
Chandani Chock is full of different types of “wallahs.” Wallah literally means a man with a prefix, like a kaan-safai wallah (ear cleaner), which denotes a person who will clean your ears for a small amount. I crossed many more of these ‘wallahs’ such as the ‘Balloon-wallah’ (balloon seller), maggi–wallah (breakfast), ‘kulfi-wallah’ (ice-cream/kulfi vendor), ‘chavi-wallah’ (key maker, ‘tangey-wallah’ (horse cart), ‘haath-gadi-wallah’ (handcart), and so on…who were getting ready for the day and waiting for customers.
The spirit of upcoming festivities was evident everywhere. The streets were crowded for a morning stroll, but it was a perfect morning stroll for me through my lively city’s iconic location. The walk made me look at the little details around me such as the labour class resting on the sidewalk, women looking for good bargains, devotees at the Gauri Shankar Temple buying fresh flowers and Pooja material, people feeding the flock of pigeons at the Bird Hospital, etc. The festival season is just around the corner, and in the narrow lanes, there were plenty of shoppers looking for bargains. Another iconic building of old Delhi, the Red Fort also stood testimonial to all the sights that I just experienced.
Soon, I was at my office, the walk had a wonderful effect on my body. Chandani chock is for walking. I am grateful to have my office in this iconic area and was happy to have contributed my carbon footprints to the environment.
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