It is that time of the year again.
Spring is nipping our noses, with chilly winds morphing into sprinkly drizzles. February, love, and new-sprung life are everywhere in evidence... and Mughal Gardens are open to the aam junta.
Yesterday, we, like thousands of other wide-eyed citizens, decided to take a stroll round your estate (well, it's our's really; we're the taxpayers).
First off, I really must tell you to get the security guards, the ones stationed near Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Parliament, to stop playing tricks on unsuspecting young girls who ask for directions.
Don't get me wrong. Nobody misbehaved. On the contrary, they were extremely polite (some of them - the ones in black glares and black band-galaa coats - were kinda cute, in fact), but they did send us off through god-alone-knows which tedha-medha route.
We walked and walked and walked - all the way from the Parliament House to Central Terminus to Central Secretariat to the Church Lane and finally, decided that we had better follow this bunch of young college kids (who also seemed lost) who looked like they were going towards Mughal Gardens too.
With aching feet and a horrible thirst, we got to the place. Only to discover that we weren't allowed to take pictures! How mean is that?!!
I mean, we walked five kilometres and we aren't even allowed to snap ourselves against the flowers? Allow us our memories, will you?
And though it's only women cops, we don't particularly like being felt up. Twice! We don't want to bomb you. It isn't much point, you know. Those who do want to hurl bombs will target the parliament. Or 10, Janpath. Or 7, Race course. Why Mughal Garden, of all places?
And oh, please do make allowances for people who pop in, don't like what they see, and want to go back.
We just aren't allowed to turn back!
Once you get inside, you HAVE TO FOLLOW THE ARROWS. The return routes are cordoned or barricaded off. From herb garden to flower garden to rose garden... long garden and circular garden... to spiritual garden (the last one was distinctly eerie, by the way. I kept thinking of evil tree-resident-spirits instead of God).
It's like being told "So you want to see Mughal Garden, eh? Now you're here, you bloody well see the whole damn garden!!"
And pray, what do you expect people to do when it rains?
It did, actually. We didn't want to get wet but where was the option? We just had to keep walking, rope to rope, arrow to arrow.
The herbs were interesting but need to be tended better. And maybe you'd like to wait a little to open the gardens - the gladioli and tulips hadn't really bloomed. And why do roses have names like Granada and Oklahoma? We'd like a little guidance, maybe some horticulture guys or botanists who show round visitors and tell them more about what they're seeing.
I couldn't help commenting on a lone specimen called 'Mother India': almost ominous, it was a single, dangerously thin plant with one bud, which looked tightly-closed, as if scared and not really ready to blossom.
And oh, there's a sign that says 'Go Slow' (we're walking, remember?) and a speed limit of '30'. Cruel joke, that.
And oh! Lots of signs saying 'Walk only on the footpath'. I briefly considered making a nuisance of myself by refusing to cross the road, because the road is a road and not a footpath, is it? But there were so many guards with guns around; I thought the better of it.
Do try and set up a few seats on the laws, so people can sit and rest. And do allow cameras.
And for God's sake, have someone put up a few more paper-signs pinned to the street corners, along the way, to help hapless touristy people like us.
A little historical context is also in order. Do tell - why is it called Mughal Garden? And do remember to remove that hideous yellow signboard with a note that welcomes visitors, referring to itself as 'lovely', signed off as 'Mughal Garden'.
I mean, please, spare us: it's not even half-cute... not on the President's Estate.
And oh, that turkey was a nice touch. First time that I saw a live turkey, ugly neck and all. But why can't you get a few more birds. I was hoping to see some peacocks.
Do get someone with taste to work with the flowers next year. The plants are pretty but they look like a 'farm', not gracefully 'arranged'.
In contrast, the little gol-chakkars (green islands or whatever you call them) near Panchsheel Marg, Chanakyapuri, Teen Murti etc, are exqusite! The green hands working there must have excellent taste, and an eye for colour and pattern. Hire them. Steal them. Borrow them. You can. You're the persident.
PS - It's a nice estate, you know.... Can't help wondering if you have tea, sitting in that little elevated, wooden shelter with love seats in it (the one after the herbs, but before the long and circular)? I'd like to, someday. Haha! Just kidding.