Saturday, December 08, 2007

City Secret – The New Jumbo Point

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Delhi's New Jumbo Point

A new watering hole for plane watchers.

[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]

I’m standing in the middle of the railway track. The Rewari Passenger will not be coming for another half hour. But I can listen to a distant roar. It’s a shrill sound gradually picking up speed. Hear, hear. It is approaching fast. It is getting thicker. It is close. Closer. It is right here. Above me. Grrrrrrrrr. Above us. Grrrrrrrrr. We look up. Me. Villagers. MBA students (from a local management institute). The kulfi walla. The chaat walla. We all see a giant steel ship floating up in the air. Magnificent scene. Wah wah.

All quiet now. The airplane has disappeared into the darkening sky. So has the roar. Where is it going? Manama? Geneva? Sydney? No time to ponder. Another roar. A new build-up. That same crashing noise. The stunning sight. The ear-numbing climax. And then the unquiet quiet. And then the rumbling again…another plane.

This is Delhi’s new Jumbo Point. The original at National Highway 8, near Mahipalpur, is now the stuff of things past. Blame the traffic police. It discourages people (and cars) from gathering there. Before, Delhi wallas used to drive there to witness the landing of airplanes in the Indira Gandhi international airport whose runway is just across the highway. It is said that the planes come so close there that you could touch them with your arms. (Well, almost.)

The old Jumbo Point has other memories, too. As a booze adda for boys and giggle joint for girls, many love affairs started and ended there. Film journalist Anupama Chopra in her biography of Shah Rukh Khan, King of Bollywood, revealed Jumbo Point nights of the film star when he was just another school kid in Delhi:

One night they (Shah Rukh and friends) ran away from their respective homes, each one saying he was spending the night at another person’s house. For a few hours they watched planes land from a spot near the Delhi airport called Jumbo Point. The police found them playing hockey on the road and detained them until dawn. This was the extent of their teen spirit.

Time flies as fast as, well, you know...Shah Rukh Khan is now a Bombay walla and the old Jumbo Point has been emptied of its spirit. Nothing stirs there, except the roar of planes followed by short intervals of silence.

Don’t lose heart. The new Jumbo Point, at Dwarka, may have remote access (it has a railway track rather than a highway) but it offers better views. In the old, you could only watch the landing of planes. Here, you face two runways. On one, planes take off. On another, planes land. Sometimes both happen together. Double roar. Double thrill. Double climax.

Plan a trip in the morning when the extra-giant US cargo plane is taking off. As it twist to a dangerous angle, the spine-tickling thrill you experience would be priceless. Just the stuff memories are made of.

Best Time Around 9 am, 6-7 pm Where Bagdolla Village Nearest Metro Station Sector 8, Dwarka

We are waiting

Delhi's New Jumbo Point

Can you see?

Delhi's New Jumbo Point

Look there (!)

Delhi's New Jumbo Point

Now, snacks

Delhi's New Jumbo Point

4 comments:

Abhinav said...

Definitely one of the most unique posts I have read anywhere.

...

The airport isn't so far away from our house in Dwarka.I sometimes watch the planes land and take-off from the terrace of the building,whenever I go there.Makes for a good scene during the night.Ofcourse,nothing beats the jumbo point.Maybe I will go there when I am in Dwarka the next time around.

Ajit said...

Actually, Mayank, the original Jumbo Point wasn't across the highway, it was right behind the airport fence. You could park your car in the scrub -- this, of course, was before they widened the road.

You drove across the border to pick up something to slake your thirst before returning to Delhi to watch the flights coming in.

Then Bansi Lal introduced prohibition to Haryana, the Delhi Police became a lot more officious about security, and Jumbo Point became just another footnote...

Anonymous said...

And we thought trainspotters were mad.

kaa said...

landed up on your blog from a google search for "portrait of dora" scheduled to play tomorrow, at nsd.

anyway...superglad to have found a eclectic mix of posts. and fortunately i live in delhi too.

am adding you to my blogroll :)