India Of My Dreams Essay By Indira Gandhi International Airport

"National Capital Territory" redirects here. For the generic term, see Capital districts and territories.

Not to be confused with New Delhi, the capital of India, located entirely within the city of Delhi.

For other uses, see Delhi (disambiguation).

Union territory and City
National Capital Territory of Delhi

From top clockwise: Lotus temple, Humayun's Tomb, Connaught Place, Akshardham temple and India Gate

Location of Delhi in India
Coordinates: 28°36′36″N77°13′48″E / 28.61000°N 77.23000°E / 28.61000; 77.23000Coordinates: 28°36′36″N77°13′48″E / 28.61000°N 77.23000°E / 28.61000; 77.23000
Country India
Settled6th century B.C., 3000 B.C. (from legend)
Capital formation1911
Formation of Union Territory[1][2]1956
Formation of NCT[3]1 February 1992
CapitalNew Delhi
 • BodyGovernment of Delhi
 • Lt. GovernorAnil Baijal, IAS[4]
 • Chief MinisterArvind Kejriwal (AAP)
 • Chief SecretaryAnshu Prakash, IAS[5][6][7]
 • Commissioner of PoliceAmulya Patnaik, IPS[8]
 • Union territory1,484.0 km2 (573.0 sq mi)
 • Water18 km2 (6.9 sq mi)
Area rank31st
Elevation200–250 m (650–820 ft)
Population (2011)[9]
 • Union territory16,787,941
 • Density11,312/km2 (29,298/sq mi)
 • Urban[10]16,349,831 (2nd)
 • City[9]11,034,555 (2nd)
 • Metro (2016)[11]26,454,000
 • OfficialHindi and English[12]
 • Additional officialPunjabi and Urdu[12]
Time zoneIST (UTC+5.30)
Area code(s)+91 11
ISO 3166 codeIN-DL
Metro GDP$167 to $370 billion (PPP)[13][14][15]

Delhi (, Hindustani pronunciation: [d̪ɪlliː]Dilli), officially the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCT), is a city and a union territory of India.[16][17] It is bordered by Haryana on three sides and by Uttar Pradesh to the east. The NCT covers an area of 1,484 square kilometres (573 sq mi). According to the 2011 census, Delhi city's proper population was over 11 million,[9] the second highest in India after Mumbai, while the whole NCT's population was about 16.8 million.[10] Delhi's urban area is now considered to extend beyond the NCT boundary to include an estimated population of over 26 million people, making it the world's second largest urban area.[11] As of 2016[update] recent estimates of the metro economy of its urban area have ranked Delhi either the top or second most productive metro area of India.[13][14][18][15] Delhi is the second wealthiest city after Mumbai in India, with a total wealth of $450 billion and home to 18 billionaires and 23,000 millionaires.[19][better source needed]

Delhi has been continuously inhabited since the 6th century BC.[20] Through most of its history, Delhi has served as a capital of various kingdoms and empires. It has been captured, ransacked and rebuilt several times, particularly during the medieval period, and modern Delhi is a cluster of a number of cities spread across the metropolitan region. A union territory, the political administration of the NCT of Delhi today more closely resembles that of a state of India, with its own legislature, high court and an executive council of ministers headed by a Chief Minister. New Delhi is jointly administered by the federal government of India and the local government of Delhi, and is the capital of the NCT of Delhi. Delhi hosted the first and ninth Asian Games in 1951 and 1982 respectively, 1983 NAM Summit, 2010 Men's Hockey World Cup, 2010 Commonwealth Games, 2012 BRICS Summit and was one of the major host cities of the 2011 Cricket World Cup.

Delhi is also the centre of the National Capital Region (NCR), which is a unique 'interstate regional planning' area created by the National Capital Region Planning Board Act of 1985.[21][22]


There are a number of myths and legends associated with the origin of the name Delhi. One of them is derived from Dhillu or Dilu, a king who built a city at this location in 50 BC and named it after himself.[23][24][25] Another legend holds that the name of the city is based on the Hindi/Prakrit word dhili (loose) and that it was used by the Tomaras to refer to the city because the Iron Pillar of Delhi had a weak foundation and had to be moved.[25] The coins in circulation in the region under the Tomaras were called dehliwal.[26] According to the Bhavishya Purana, King Prithiviraja of Indraprastha built a new fort in the modern-day Purana Qila area for the convenience of all four castes in his kingdom. He ordered the construction of a gateway to the fort and later named the fort dehali.[27] Some historians believe that the name is derived from Dilli, a corruption of the Hindustani words dehleez or dehali—both terms meaning 'threshold' or 'gateway'—and symbolic of the city as a gateway to the Gangetic Plain.[28][29] Another theory suggests that the city's original name was Dhillika.[30]

The people of Delhi are referred to as Delhiites or Dilliwalas.[31] The city is referenced in various idioms of the Northern Indo-Aryan languages. Examples include:

  • Abhi Dilli door hai (अभी दिल्ली दूर है) or its Persian version, Hanouz Dehli dour ast (هنوز دلی دور است), literally meaning Delhi is still far away, which is generically said about a task or journey still far from completion.[32][33]
  • Dilli dilwalon ka shehr or Dilli Dilwalon ki meaning Delhi belongs to the large-hearted/daring.[34]
  • Aas-paas barse, Dilli pani tarse, literally meaning it pours all around, while Delhi lies parched. An allusion to the sometimes semi-arid climate of Delhi, it idiomatically refers to situations of deprivation when one is surrounded by plenty.[33]


Main articles: History of Delhi and Old Delhi

The area around Delhi was probably inhabited before the second millennium BC and there is evidence of continuous inhabitation since at least the 6th century BC.[20] The city is believed to be the site of Indraprastha, the legendary capital of the Pandavas in the Indian epic Mahabharata.[23] According to Mahabharata, this land was initially a huge mass of forests called 'Khandavaprastha' which was burnt down to build the city of Indraprastha. The earliest architectural relics date back to the Maurya period (c. 300 BC); in 1966, an inscription of the Mauryan Emperor Ashoka (273–235 BC) was discovered near Srinivaspuri. Remains of eight major cities have been discovered in Delhi. The first five cities were in the southern part of present-day Delhi. King Anang Pal of the Tomara dynasty founded the city of Lal Kot in AD 736. Prithviraj Chauhan conquered Lal Kot in 1178 and renamed it Qila Rai Pithora.

The king Prithviraj Chauhan was defeated in 1192 by Muhammad Ghori, a Muslim invader from Afghanistan, who made a concerted effort to conquer northern India.[23] By 1200, native Hindu resistance had begun to crumble, the dominance of foreign Turkic Muslim dynasties in north India was to last for the next five centuries. The slave general of Ghori, Qutb-ud-din Aibak was given the responsibility of governing the conquered territories of India and then Ghori returned to his capital, Ghor. He died in 1206 AD. He had no heirs and so his generals declared themselves independent in different parts of his empire. Qutb-ud-din assumed control of Ghori's Indian possessions. He laid the foundation of the Delhi Sultanate and the Mamluk Dynasty. he began construction of the Qutb Minar and Quwwat-al-Islam (Might of Islam) mosque, the earliest extant mosque in India. It was his successor, Iltutmish (1211–36), who consolidated the Turkic conquest of northern India.[23][38] Razia Sultan, daughter of Iltutmish, succeeded him as the Sultan of Delhi. She is the first and only woman to rule over Delhi.

For the next three hundred years, Delhi was ruled by a succession of Turkic and an Afghan, Lodhi dynasty. They built several forts and townships that are part of the seven cities of Delhi.[40] Delhi was a major centre of Sufism during this period.[41] The Mamluk Sultanate (Delhi) was overthrown in 1290 by Jalal ud din Firuz Khalji (1290–1320). Under the second Khalji ruler, Ala-ud-din Khalji, the Delhi sultanate extended its control south of the Narmada River in the Deccan. The Delhi sultanate reached its greatest extent during the reign of Muhammad bin Tughluq (1325–1351). In an attempt to bring the whole of the Deccan under control, he moved his capital to Daulatabad, Maharashtra in central India. However, by moving away from Delhi he lost control of the north and was forced to return to Delhi to restore order. The southern provinces then broke away. In the years following the reign of Firoz Shah Tughlaq (1351–1388), the Delhi sultanate rapidly began to lose its hold over its northern provinces. Delhi was captured and sacked by Timur in 1398,[42] who massacred 100,000 captives.[43] Delhi's decline continued under the Sayyid dynasty (1414–1451), until the sultanate was reduced to Delhi and its hinterland. Under the Afghan Lodhi dynasty (1451–1526), the Delhi sultanate recovered control of the Punjab and the Gangetic plain to once again achieve domination over Northern India. However, the recovery was short-lived and the sultanate was destroyed in 1526 by Babur, founder of the Mughal dynasty.

Babur, was a descendant of Genghis Khan and Timur, from the Fergana Valley in modern-day Uzbekistan. In 1526, he invaded India, defeated the last Lodhi sultan in the First Battle of Panipat and founded the Mughal Empire that ruled from Delhi and Agra.[23] The Mughal dynasty ruled Delhi for more than three centuries, with a sixteen-year hiatus during the reigns of Sher Shah Suri and Hemu from 1540 to 1556.[44] In 1553, the Hindu king Hemu acceded to the throne of Delhi by defeating forces of Mughal Emperor Humayun at Agra and Delhi. However, the Mughals re-established their rule after Akbar's army defeated Hemu during the Second Battle of Panipat in 1556.[45][46][47]Shah Jahan built the seventh city of Delhi that bears his name Shahjahanabad, which served as the capital of the Mughal Empire from 1638 and is today known as the Old City or Old Delhi.[48]

After the death of Aurangzeb in 1707, the Mughal Empire's influence declined rapidly as the Hindu Maratha Empire from Deccan Plateau rose to prominence.[49] In 1737, Maratha forces sacked Delhi following their victory against the Mughals in the First Battle of Delhi. In 1739, the Mughal Empire lost the huge Battle of Karnal in less than three hours against the numerically outnumbered but militarily superior Persian army led by Nader Shah of Persia. After his invasion, he completely sacked and looted Delhi, carrying away immense wealth including the Peacock Throne, the Daria-i-Noor, and Koh-i-Noor. The Mughals, severely further weakened, could never overcome this crushing defeat and humiliation which also left the way open for more invaders to come, including eventually the British.[50][51][52]Nader eventually agreed to leave the city and India after forcing the Mughal emperor Muhammad Shah I to beg him for mercy and granting him the keys of the city and the royal treasury.[53] A treaty signed in 1752 made Marathas the protectors of the Mughal throne in Delhi.[54]

In 1757, the Afghan ruler, Ahmad Shah Durrani, sacked Delhi. He returned to Afghanistan leaving a Mughal puppet ruler in nominal control. The Marathas again occupied Delhi in 1758, and were in control until their defeat in 1761 at the third battle of Panipat when the city was captured again by Ahmad Shah.[56] However, in 1771, the Marathas established a protectorate over Delhi when the Maratha ruler, Mahadji Shinde, recaptured Delhi and the Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II was installed as a puppet ruler in 1772.[57] In 1783, Sikhs under Baghel Singh captured Delhi and Red Fort but due to the treaty signed, Sikhs withdrew from Red Fort and agreed to restore Shah Alam II as the emperor. In 1803, during the Second Anglo-Maratha War, the forces of British East India Company defeated the Maratha forces in the Battle of Delhi.[58]

During the Indian Rebellion of 1857, Delhi fell to the forces of East India Company after a bloody fight known as the Siege of Delhi. The city came under the direct control of the British Government in 1858. It was made a district province of the Punjab.[23] In 1911, it was announced that the capital of British held territories in India was to be transferred from Calcutta to Delhi.[59] The name "New Delhi" was given in 1927, and the new capital was inaugurated on 13 February 1931. New Delhi, also known as Lutyens' Delhi,[60] was officially declared as the capital of the Union of India after the country gained independence on 15 August 1947.[61] During the partition of India, thousands of Hindu and Sikh refugees, mainly from West Punjab fled to Delhi, while many Muslim residents of the city migrated to Pakistan. Migration to Delhi from the rest of India continues (as of 2013[update]), contributing more to the rise of Delhi's population than the birth rate, which is declining.[62]

The States Reorganisation Act, 1956 and the States Reorganisation Act, 1956 created the Union Territory of Delhi from the its predecessor the Chief Commissioner's Province of Delhi.[1][2] The Constitution (Sixty-ninth Amendment) Act, 1991 declared the Union Territory of Delhi to be formally known as the National Capital Territory of Delhi.[3] The Act gave Delhi its own legislative assembly along Civil lines, though with limited powers.[3]

In December 2001, the Parliament of India building in New Delhi was attacked by armed militants, killing six security personnel.[63] India suspected Pakistan-based militant groups were behind the attack, which caused a major diplomatic crisis between the two countries.[64] There were further terrorist attacks in Delhi in October 2005 and September 2008, resulting in a total of 103 deaths.[65]


Main articles: Environment of Delhi and Geography of Delhi

Delhi is located at 28°37′N77°14′E / 28.61°N 77.23°E / 28.61; 77.23, and lies in Northern India. It borders the Indian states of Haryana on the north, west and south and Uttar Pradesh (UP) to the east. Two prominent features of the geography of Delhi are the Yamuna flood plains and the Delhi ridge. The Yamuna river was the historical boundary between Punjab and UP, and its flood plains provide fertile alluvial soil suitable for agriculture but are prone to recurrent floods. The Yamuna, a sacred river in Hinduism, is the only major river flowing through Delhi. The Hindon River separates Ghaziabad from the eastern part of Delhi. The Delhi ridge originates from the Aravalli Range in the south and encircles the west, north-east and north-west parts of the city. It reaches a height of 318 m (1,043 ft) and is a dominant feature of the region.[70]

The National Capital Territory of Delhi covers an area of 1,484 km2 (573 sq mi), of which 783 km2 (302 sq mi) is designated rural, and 700 km2 (270 sq mi) urban therefore making it the largest city in terms of area in the country. It has a length of 51.9 km (32 mi) and a width of 48.48 km (30 mi).

Delhi is included in India's seismic zone-IV, indicating its vulnerability to major earthquakes.[71]


See also: Climate of Delhi

Delhi features an atypical version of the humid subtropical climate (KöppenCwa) bordering a hot semi-arid climate (KöppenBSh). The warm season lasts from 21 March to 15 June with an average daily high temperature above 39 °C (102 °F). The hottest day of the year is 22 May, with an average high of 46 °C (115 °F) and low of 30 °C (86 °F).[72] The cold season lasts from 26 November to 9 February with an average daily high temperature below 20 °C (68 °F). The coldest day of the year is 4 January, with an average low of 2 °C (36 °F) and high of 14 °C (57 °F).[72] In early March, the wind direction changes from north-westerly to south-westerly. From April to October the weather is hot. The monsoon arrives at the end of June, along with an increase in humidity.[73] The brief, mild winter starts in late November, peaks in January and heavy fog often occurs.[74]

Temperatures in Delhi usually range from 2 to 47 °C (35.6 to 116.6 °F), with the lowest and highest temperatures ever recorded being −2.2 and 48.4 °C (28.0 and 119.1 °F) respectively.[75] The annual mean temperature is 25 °C (77 °F); monthly mean temperatures range from 13 to 32 °C (55 to 90 °F). The highest temperature recorded in July was 45 °C (113 °F) in 1931.[76][77] The average annual rainfall is approximately 886 mm (34.9 in), most of which falls during the monsoon in July and August.[23] The average date of the advent of monsoon winds in Delhi is 29 June.[78]

Climate data for Delhi (Safdarjung) 1971–1990
Record high °C (°F)30.0
Average high °C (°F)21.0
Daily mean °C (°F)14.3
Average low °C (°F)7.6
Record low °C (°F)−0.6
Average precipitation mm (inches)19
Average precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)
Average relative humidity (%)63554734334670736252556254
Mean monthly sunshine hours214.6216.1239.1261.0263.1196.5165.9177.0219.0269.3247.2215.82,684.6
Source #1: NOAA[79]
Source #2: Indian Meteorological Department (record high and low up to 2010)[80]

Air pollution[edit]

See also: Environmental issues in Delhi

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) Delhi was the most polluted[81] city in the world in 2014. In 2016 WHO downgraded Delhi to eleventh-worst in the urban air quality database.[82] According to one estimate, air pollution causes the death of about 10,500 people in Delhi every year.[83][84][85] During 2013–14, peak levels of fine particulate matter (PM) in Delhi increased by about 44%, primarily due to high vehicular and industrial emissions, construction work and crop burning in adjoining states.[83][86][87][88] It has the highest level of the airborne particulate matter, PM2.5 considered most harmful to health, with 153 micrograms.[89] Rising air pollution level has significantly increased lung-related ailments (especially asthma and lung cancer) among Delhi's children and women.[90][91] The dense smog in Delhi during winter season results in major air and rail traffic disruptions every year.[92] According to Indian meteorologists, the average maximum temperature in Delhi during winters has declined notably since 1998 due to rising air pollution.[93]

Environmentalists have criticised the Delhi government for not doing enough to curb air pollution and to inform people about air quality issues.[84] Most of Delhi's residents are unaware of alarming levels of air pollution in the city and the health risks associated with it;[87][88] however, as of 2015[update], awareness, particularly among the foreign diplomatic community and high-income Indians, was noticeably increasing.[94] Since the mid-1990s, Delhi has undertaken some measures to curb air pollution – Delhi has the third highest quantity of trees among Indian cities[95] and the Delhi Transport Corporation operates the world's largest fleet of environmentally friendly compressed natural gas (CNG) buses.[96] In 1996, the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) started a public interest litigation in the Supreme Court of India that ordered the conversion of Delhi's fleet of buses and taxis to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) and banned the use of leaded petrol in 1998. In 2003, Delhi won the United States Department of Energy's first 'Clean Cities International Partner of the Year' award for its "bold efforts to curb air pollution and support alternative fuel initiatives".[96] The Delhi Metro has also been credited for significantly reducing air pollutants in the city.[97]

However, according to several authors, most of these gains have been lost, especially due to stubble burning, a rise in the market share of diesel cars and a considerable decline in bus ridership.[98][99] According to CSE and System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR), burning of agricultural waste in nearby Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh regions results in severe intensification of smog over Delhi.[100][101] The state government of Uttar Pradesh is considering imposing a ban on crop burning to reduce pollution in Delhi NCR and an environmental panel has appealed to India's Supreme Court to impose a 30% cess on diesel cars.[102][103]

The Circles of Sustainability assessment of Delhi gives a marginally more favourable impression of the ecological sustainability of the city only because it is based on a more comprehensive series of measures than only air pollution. Part of the reason that the city remains assessed at basic sustainability is because of the low resource-use and carbon emissions of its poorer neighbourhoods.[104]

Civic administration[edit]

See also: Divisions of Delhi, Districts of Delhi, and List of towns in National Capital Territory of Delhi

As of July 2007, the National Capital Territory of Delhi comprises nine districts, 27 tehsils, 59 census towns, 300 villages,[105] and three statutory towns, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) – 1,397.3 km2 or 540 sq mi, the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC) – 42.7 km2 or 16 sq mi and the Delhi Cantonment Board (DCB) – 43 km2 or 17 sq mi).[106][107]

Since the trifurcation of the DMC at the start of 2012, Delhi has been run by five local municipal corporations: the North Delhi, South Delhi and East Delhi Municipal Corporations, the New Delhi Municipal Council and Delhi Cantonment Board.[108] In July of that year, shortly after the MCD trifurcation, the Delhi Government increased the number of districts in Delhi from nine to eleven.[109]

Delhi (civic administration) was ranked 5th out of 21 Cities for best governance & administrative practices in India in 2014. It scored 3.6 on 10 compared to the national average of 3.3.[110]

Delhi houses the Supreme Court of India and the regional Delhi High Court along with the Small Causes Court for civil cases; the Magistrate Court and the Sessions Court for criminal cases has jurisdiction over Delhi. The city is administratively divided into eleven police-zones which are subdivided into 95 local police stations.[111]

Government and politics[edit]

Main articles: Government of Delhi and Government of India

As a first-level administrative division, the National Capital Territory of Delhi has its own Legislative Assembly, Lieutenant Governor, council of ministers and Chief Minister. Members of the legislative assembly are directly elected from territorial constituencies in the NCT. The legislative assembly was abolished in 1956, after which direct federal control was implemented until it was re-established in 1993. The Municipal corporation handles civic. administration for the city as part of the Panchayati Raj Act. The Government of India and the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi jointly administer New Delhi, where both bodies are located. The Parliament of India, the Rashtrapati Bhavan (Presidential Palace), Cabinet Secretariat and the Supreme Court of India are located in the municipal district of New Delhi. There are 70 assembly constituencies and seven Lok Sabha (Indian parliament's lower house) constituencies in Delhi.[112][113] The Indian National Congress (Congress) formed all the governments in Delhi until the 1990s, when the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), led by Madan Lal Khurana, came to power.[114] In 1998, the Congress returned to power under the leadership of Sheila Dikshit, who was subsequently re-elected for 3 consecutive terms. But in 2013, the Congress was ousted from power by the newly formed Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led by Arvind Kejriwal forming the government with outside support from the Congress.[115] However, that government was short-lived, collapsing only after 49 days.[116] Delhi was then under President's rule till February 2015.[117] On 10 February 2015, the Aam Aadmi Party returned to power after a landslide victory, winning 67 out of the 70 seats in the Delhi Legislative Assembly.[118]

Since 2011 Delhi has three municipal bodies[119]

  1. SDMC having jurisdiction over South and West Delhi areas including Mahipalpur, Rajouri Garden, Janakpuri, Hari Nagar, Tilak Nagar, Dwarka, Jungpura, Greater Kailash, R K Puram, Malvya Nagar, Kalkaji, Ambedkar Nagar and Badarpur.
  2. NDMC has jurisdiction over areas such as Badli, Rithala, Bawana, Kirari, Mangolpuri, Tri nagar, Model Town, Sadar Bazar, Chandni Chowk, Matia Mahal, Karol Bagh, Moti Nagar
  3. EDMC has jurisdiction over areas such as Patparganj, Kondli, Laxmi Nagar, Seemapuri, Gonda, Karawal Nagar, Babarpur and Shahadra

In 2017 BJP became victorious in all the three corporations[120]


Main article: Economy of Delhi

Delhi is the largest commercial centre in northern India. As of 2016[update] recent estimates of the economy of the Delhi urban area have ranged from $167 to $370 billion (PPPmetro GDP) ranking it either the most or second-most productive metro area of India.[13][14][18][15] The nominal GSDP of the NCT of Delhi for 2016-17 was estimated at ₹6,224 billion

Aerial view of Delhi, April 2016
Urban sustainability analysis of the greater urban area of the city using the 'Circles of Sustainability' method of the UN Global Compact Cities Programme
Dense smog blankets Connaught Place, Delhi
Dense fog in Delhi in November 2017

(or what happens when you miss your flight)

4 March 2015

Delhi is a beautiful city. Its sun-soaked alleys, riot of colours and torrents of food are a perpetual feast for the eyes. So much so that I couldn’t tear myself away when it came time to leave.

So, I proceeded to miss my flight and went on a whirlwind adventure, finding wild romance in far-flung corners of the country. Well, not quite. The truth was much more insipid. I had swapped passports with my friend by accident and by the time I had gotten mine back, the gate had closed, and I’d missed my flight. By five minutes!

As punishment, I decided to spend the 24 hours until my next flight at Delhi’s tiny Indira Gandhi International Airport. As penance, I made myself write a poem out of this malarky. And so I did.

When The Gate Is Closed

7 a.m.

I am no longer in departures or arrivals but somewhere in between,

unchecked in this strip mall of coffee joints and gourmet delis;

a vast lounge of temporary dreaming.

8.25 a.m.

Under the safety of a constant flourescence,

I am protected by men with armored mustaches

as I read of having breakfast at Tiffany’s.

10.45 a.m.

Drivers occupy all remaining chairs, some bring newspapers,

others watch for fresh arrivals as Delhi fogs into oblivion and planes circle,

waiting for a brief clarity to plunge in.

11.39 a.m.

A woman comes to clean the floor; she knows I have scorned

a city hotel to be with cavalier chauffeurs, transit travellers

and a sign proclaiming, ‘waiting was never so fun!‘

11.40 a.m.

She is laughing inside, but only nudges me

with her broom to raise both legs

so she can sweep the floor again, and again.

1.45 p.m.

A businessman takes out bottles of Johnny Walker

and slips them inside piles of shirts and jeans,

clearly not the first time he‘s coming home without labels.

2.30 p.m.

Silver bangles of Sikh drivers dance as they turn the paper.

6 bottles later, the businessman, wearing a Rebel Dream t-shirt,

zips his suitcase with a happy sigh. The woman returns to clean my spot.

2.31 p.m.

With a loaded trolley I trundle up and down the terminal

memorizing the store layouts, all six of them, advanced practice

for old age, a geriatric exercising amidst the sanitized scenery.

3 p.m.


I consume a sandwich over four hours,

every bite lingering as long as a chapter.

7.49 p.m.

With awkward glances, Muslim men spread rugs

and kneel to pray behind the privacy of potted plants,

finding the right angle to face holiness.

8.14 p.m.

The empty boxes of whiskey

become suspicious items for an illiterate soldier

who warbles urgently into his walkie for backup.

11.25 p.m.

A line of army soldiers queue in silence,

hefting rifles like tote bags,

winter exercises care of Air India.

1 a.m.

After midnight,

the fog seeps into the airport,

adds more steam to unending cups of transit coffee.

2.35 a.m.

The airport staff have been here just as long;

the same barista serves me when time doubles on itself.

The cleaning lady is napping outside the toilet.

3.07 a.m.

The Airtel attendant, a live sculpture

watching over public telephones,

sings softly into her mobile phone.

4 a.m.

In the bookstore I browse airbrushed models,

who never pose in airports longer than it takes

to scrawl a perfect signature of themselves.

5.12 a.m.

I fall asleep for an hour, my shopping bag of

ethnic pottery and ceremonial knives arranged like

a shop window display for transit passengers.

8.30 a.m.

When the plane finally leaves it is shyly, through

a blinded veil of fog; hesitant to consummate

this journey that‘s been delayed for so long.

'When the Gate is Closed' was first published in Postal Code (2013).
Text and Photos by Marc.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *