Ice-cream at India Gate

It's a Saturday with additional office work. Until it's evening, they aren't free to make plans. He cooks some obscure vegetable, tries adding a dash of innovation, but nothing can lift it up really, or so it seems to him. There is a bit of a gash on the thumb. The knife is long and sharp and there is blood on the onions. This is not the first time.

In the evening, when they leave, dust has swirled up like dense fog and visibility is poor. The tops of trees waltz. Yellow and orange flowers are sketched brightly against a grey sky. The urge might have been to stay indoors in stormy weather, but it is a good idea to come out. Weekends demand it. And then the droplets come. Like the last bits from a dirty pail. The car acquires an ugly pattern, but the air smells of relief. The skies above hold much hope.

When they park near India Gate, the rain continues. Like a considerate friend. Roads are lined with armed policemen and loads of tourists trying to use flash upon a large lit up monument against a grey late evening sky. The place is teeming with people. Parts of the lawns around are strangely bereft of grass. Puddles grow on them, and bring him a smile. The weather is perfect. So is the time of the day. The street lamps, the Gate shining like a beacon, the clouds concealing twilight, phuchka-wallas whose faces are lit up in the light of a candle, puddles reflecting monuments and lines of street-lamps, laughter and loud cheer among groups, and what looks like a hundred ice-cream wallas. sketch the atmosphere. They meet SM. It is his last weekend in Delhi. And they walk along Raj Path, have ice-cream and later phuchkas. Lately, he has developed a taste for the cheap ice-cream kids love. There are picnics on the lawns. They walk right up through the "corridors of power" to the lofty gates of the Rashtrapati Bhavan where the President of the country resides. The roads are vast smooth empty expanses and there are armed guards all around. Yet they feel free. The restriction on photography is not imposed by the police but the dark night. No one would guess it is summer, or that day time temperatures soar above 40 degrees centigrade.

Towering fountains, like swords or minars guard the entrance, as they walk around the Indian Parliament and drive over to the Supreme Court. Most of the architecture is Victorian.

Dinner is at The Big Chill at Khan Market. The place is rather deceptive with a visage belying what lies within. It is a lane of smoothened brick with decrepit yet elegant buildings lining either side. And as S points out, loads of fascinating looking doors. A rather chic crowd waits outside before being allocated tables at restaurants above. Though there seems to be some good street food, they choose to be indoors. Walls are crowded with framed posters from 50s and 60s Hollywood. The food looks as good as it tastes.

When they are back, conversations trail into the night. The evening expands the day and they are in it.

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