2009 is probably not much different from the year gone by… though for us this 15th of August has come as a major revelation of things that we thought existed. For instance, we thought that this day, being a holiday, is a great day for visiting the Red Fort. No, it is not. No one can enter this place as the entire place is barricaded with notices barring entry are hung everywhere.

The only choice we had was to click this notice and stare at the Red Fort with our faces stuck close to the iron bars of the tall railing.

The second ‘notice’ that we saw was in a narrow bylane of Chandni Chowk… it was Maliwara… and this was parallel to Nai Sarak which had connecting lanes to it (if you had the guts to discover these connectors as many of them had dead ends… and these lanes had a width of not more than 4 to 5 ft, electricity and cable wires hanging enmeshed into each other, and certainly a pre-dominance of muslims.)

We asked one of the printing press owners there: ‘Why this notice?’
‘Hmmmm… terrorist attacks can be there… so kite flying is banned… VIPs come to the Red Fort to give speeches…’

So the Delhi Police thinks kites flying around have the potential to aid terrorists?

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Here are a few I-day pictures from the Red Fort area and Chandni Chowk…

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India is a country where festivities and holidays are no reason for empty roads. There were hundreds of people milling around the barricades outside the Red Fort… and were content at just getting a peep of this monument… foreign tourists included.

Some interesting snippets from this visit to the Red Fort- Chandni Chowk area…

* Specky was terribly afraid to enter the lanes and by-lanes and kept on saying: Lets go back… it is soooo dark here… seems so unreal…

* However, we kept on moving into the ‘heart’ of these by-lanes… and that is where we discovered the ‘kites banned before 10’ notice by the Delhi Police.

* Discovered that there were scooters and bikes parked one behind the other even in these 4 ft wide lanes. Rickshaws came speedily through them and one had to hop on to the stairs of some house to avoid getting splattered by them.

* We wondered what these lanes look like on a busy working day.

I think another visit to these lanes is due… though on a working day… someday!

(Arvind Passey)