Spying on Delhi 'couples' in the historic Lodhi Garden - with a discreet digicam.
[Text and photographs by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Once declared by Time Magazine as the Best Urban Oasis of Asia, Lodhi Garden is a public park in New Delhi. Generously sprinkled with tombs and trees, it is frequented by top politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, diplomats and other Very Important People (VIPs). It is also a refuge for lovelorn couples.
A life without love is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead – Oscar Wilde
Lovers are boring. There is nothing new about them. They are occupied in doing exactly the things that millions of people have already done before them. These lovers have no eagerness to the surrounding world. Their eyes do not see beauty in the flowers. Their skins do not tremble under the cool shade of the thick trees. Their hands do not feel the fresh wetness of the evening grass. Their ears do not hear the chirping of the birds. Their sensibilities do not get invigorated by the sight of decaying monuments. Their nerves do not get nervous as the blue sky gradually shuts down to the darkness of the dusk. The lovers are immune to the worldly senses. They have no interest in anything that does not add up to their lover. Oh yes, lovers are boring people.
There is no remedy for love but to love more - Henry David Thoreau
Lovers are careless. They are not bothered with the demands of the world. All the cares dissolve down into the substance of the lover. The entire universe gets secreted into the being of that person. Nothing seems important other than the lover. The hustle-bustle of the larger life ceases. All other significant relations - parents, siblings, friends, colleagues - are silenced; their existence reduced down to the melodious hum of the surrounding traffic that whirrs dreamily around the circumference of the garden. Everyone and everything is forgotten. Oh yes, lovers are careless people.
Come live with me and be my love – Christopher Marlowe
Lovers are exhibitionists. They display private acts in public spaces. Their hands slither down on the other's hands. Their lips brush the other's lips. Their thighs rub the other's thighs. Their foot entangle into the other's foot. They fingers play around with the other's fingers. Their heads settle down into the other's shoulder. They chest presses into the other's breast. Their body merges into the other's body - in front of the entire world! Oh yes, lovers are exhibitionist people.
Love is not love, that alters when it alteration finds – William Shakespeare
Lovers are daring. The lovers conduct their love lives away from the prying eyes of the curiosity-seekers. There are parents to deceive. There are friends to ignore. Living in a culture that frowns on a girl choosing to have good time with a boy who is not her husband, the lovers have to go to great lengths to keep the affair discrete. With such considerations in mind, they drive to gardens situated far away from their neighborhoods so that no family friend or a relative see them together. In making love to people who are strangers to their families, the girls risk their reputations and the boys their respect. Oh yes, lovers are daring people.
Romantic love is an illusion – Thomas Moore
Lovers are dreaming fools. Their world is false. The lovers are stupid to fall in love with people who do not belong to their caste. Sometimes, even their religions are different. Occasionally, their families speak different languages and cook different cuisines at home. The lovers forget, momentarily, that they have the aspirations of their parents and the legacies of their families to preserve. That their life is not just their life. In one person lie dreams of many people. The lovers overlook that the world does not consist of just the lovers. They carry on with their romance. They continue seeking dark corners in secret gardens to knit the dreams of a future in which they fancy to live the rest of their live together. Fools! Oh yes, lovers are dreamy, foolish people.