“Masakali wala view chahiye yaar.”
The epiphany hit as I stuffed another bite of the Mawa parantha at the Paranthe wali Gali. After hastily gulping down the rest of my meal, I darted towards Dariba. After multiple interactions with the locals at Dariba, I realised that the view I was looking for wasn’t possible, as all the Havelis had been closed. A little more enquiry got to me to the result that those shots were not possible without drones.
My fortunes didn’t seem at their best.
Feeling lost, I took a rickshaw to the metro to get back home. On the way, my rickshaw wallah casually mentioned that Fatehpuri has been having more photographers than Jama.
It wasn’t long before I changed the plans and ended up at the gate of the Fatehpuri Masjid. It was my maiden visit to this end of the Nayi Sadak and Khari Baori region. The area is famous for being among the world’s oldest and largest spice markets. Once there, I realised it does stand true to its claim.
The shops there sell more varieties of cashews than I thought existed. The same went for raisins, walnuts, saffron and whatnot. With a price range as wide as the market, there are dry fruits for all occasions.
Directing my efforts back to the goal, which was finding the view, I made some enquiries. Multiple enquiries about which place would give me ‘The Sight’ led to one name – Gadodia Market.
After roaming around for about thirty minutes, I finally found the entrance to the dream destination. The place is a spice trading hub. The aromas of the various spices paired with the winter fog and the shrieks of cart pullers teleported my senses to the 1700s. A double-decker tea stall and an unfriendly guard greeted me as I proceeded to enter the market. While the gatekeeper was adamant about not letting photographers in without a decent fee, my wallet said otherwise.
After touring the nearby streets, I did find a seemingly possible alternate entryway to the complex. A narrow alleyway, five feet tall and wide enough for a single person, was my golden ticket. After crossing the shady alley, I was right in the centre of all the action going around the spice market. After two challenging flights of stairs, I finally reached one of the highest points of the area.
The view from the top was divine. The 360-degree view of Khari Baoli while looking over the compound of the Fatehpuri Masjid is a sight to behold. The tranquillity here was the polar opposite of the commotion 30 feet below me. Kids on the nearby terraces were busy flying and looting kites while the dogs and monkeys scrambled on my side of the roof for food.
An interesting fact about the place is that its architecture is a blend of all the regimes seen by Delhi. From Victorian arches to Mughal jalis and from Jharokhas to modern Granite walls. It had it all. Even more fascinating was the presence of houses and residences on an island amidst the market’s courtyard.
The beautiful January fog ensured that my camera couldn’t see what I could. Well, not the best day. Despite being where I wanted to, I had no medium of capturing the beauty as I do. It was a big killjoy that despite having two cameras, I couldn’t take any photos.
All my effort and excitement just went in vain. All of a sudden, my nearly accomplished dream was turning to be a sore disappointment.
The smile of the kid across the roof was the only thing that was non-gloomy. He had a smile despite having his kite cut. It made me question myself.
Is the accomplishment of one goal more important than the entire journey?
Is the future worth stressing more than the present?
Is winning the only thing that matters?
Maybe. Maybe Not.
Arguably the most peaceful place in Old Delhi, the Jama Masjid is one of my experiences that I always cherish.
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