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June 10th, 2017

Oh Delhi…this VIP culture of yours…

It’s been exactly 2 years since I started my running blog, following well-intentioned advice from friends who said that this blog was getting a tad too run-centric.

So I duly started reporting on all things running in, and left you good non-running readers alone.

This morning, however, I am going to talk about running, but – hey! wait – only in the context of what I saw this morning.

Which was rampant VIP-ism.

A quick bit of background, first, though.

I run regularly in the lovely Aravali Biodiversity Park in south Delhi & have blogged often about it.

I’m a big fan of this small, but well-maintained park, and any Instagrammers among you may well remember my videos of dancing peacocks, nearly every time I ran last summer.

So, yes, I’m a big fan.

So this hot Saturday morning, I set out for the park, noticing as I did the large police activity.  Lots of cop cars zooming up and down, a helmet-less cop on a motorbike.  I also noticed new road markings since I walked the very same street 24 hours earlier.  There were also w-a-y fewer cars parked on the roadside & on the pavement than this time yesterday.

Like so:

I looked out, as I always do, for the lovely lady who runs a chai-stall by the park gate, and who sells me bread to give to the stray dogs in the park.

We always say hello, and sometimes we take selfies and she even appeared in my exciting Star Sports film from last year.

This morning, however, she & her stall were nowhere to be seen.  And the pavement (footpath) had been swept clean.

And, come to think of it, where was the overflowing skip that sits there, often with cows rootling through the rubbish?  Gone.  All gone.

And what, pray is this?

I’ll tell you what this is, my friends – this is a large cloth that has been strung up, to hide the left-over rubble from the Metro building works, that has been there for months.

And then it all became clear.

We were getting a VIP visit.

After God knows how many years of being open for business, a Delhi VIP was coming to inaugurate our park.

So the road had been swept clean, and the chai-wali was gone, and the rubbish skips had disappeared, and the months-old unsightly mess was hidden away, and no cars were parked.

All for a VIP.

And all to inaugurate a neighbourhood park…

…the mind boggles at what a bigger VIP visit must entail.

If they sanitised my ‘hood in less than 24 hours – and all for a park, for crying out loud – then what arrangements, and sweeping away of people and cars and unsightliness must be involved when, for example, a building is VIP-ed?

And just think what must be involved when a railway station is VIP-ed.  Do they clear away the trains in the sidings?

Putting all flippancy to one side, you have to weep at the waste of money and manpower because of this city’s obsession with VIPs.

All those police cars and official cars and escort vehicles and drivers and who-the-heck-knows?  I counted 15 official/police cars in one parking area alone.

I mean, has no-one heard of carbon emissions and noise pollution and – gosh – even walking through a Biodiversity Park to inaugurate it, rather than driving through it with police escort vehicles?

I mean to say – how naive do the powers-that-be think our average VIP is?

He (it was indeed a he this morning) drives through the rest of Delhi, seeing the rubbish and the crazily parked cars and the chai stalls doing brisk business, and then suddenly his convoy arrives in a swept-clean area like our normally scruffy ‘hood?

“Ah”, he thinks, “look how clean and un-chai-stall-ish THIS neighbourhood is?’

I mean, get real.

My lovely park now has signs galore, telling me the name of just about every plant and every tree.

(S-l-i-g-h-t overkill in the signs department here?)

What I found the oddest was the arbitrary naming of bits of the park.

Someone has designated certain parts of my park as such-and-such point.

All since yesterday, by the way.  Like so.

Jackal Point, huh?

Personally, I have only ever seen peacocks here.  Lots of ’em.

But never mind.

Blue Bull Point?

I have never ever seen a nilgai (blue bull) here, but have usually spotted them closer to the entrance, on several occasions.

Civet Point?

Now this, however, IS exciting, because I’ve never seen a civet in the park, and this area is usually home to peacocks.  Last year, there was one lovely fella who had claimed that rock behind as his own, and strutted his stuff there most mornings.


I love my local park, and will continue to run there in the mornings – and occasionally, in the evenings, hoping for another stunning nilgai sighting like last month, when a family of 3 stood in the dusk and watched me watching them.

I hope against hope that this rather odd sign will have gone once the VIP has left:

Dearie me, a sign to warn the police drivers on VIP duty, inside a nature park, to watch out for wildlife and pedestrians…

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