..Will you write about Lodhi?
Family rituals are important to gain perspectives.
“Will you write about Lodhi gardens” a fellow traveler asked me on reading my articles on Remembrance –reflection rituals.
In the previous blogs , while going through the different remembrance- reflection rituals, we went through the issues of legacy and collective memories, catharsis and a sense of being a part of a unified whole. One of the places where I find this unity is the “Bada Gumbad” of Lodhi Gardens, on the steps of which we have had many a conversations, early in the morning, before sunrise, listening to the birds of Lodhi chirping away, watching the morning Yoga practitioners and seeing the world go by or in late evenings after a long day at the ‘work-market’.
…9th April 1936
“Will you write about Lodhi gardens” one friend and fellow-traveler asked me, telling that I know something about history of Delhi. That is best left to more qualified and able persons, who are trained in the subject, if one thinks of writing the actual history of an area which was once the Khairpur village, has tombs going back to the Delhi Sultanate (Muhamed Shah-1444) and has one of the only structures of the period of Akbar’s reign (The Athpula-eight arched bridge) in the Delhi region. For the youngsters in the family, I give them a project to find out where these structures are within Lodhi, while I discuss the nuances of photography with an old friend, and how taking photographs from a height gives a different perspective. (“ Please take these photographs fast”..the guard told me as he found me on one of the walls of Sikander Lodi tomb enclave, trying to find a better angle to photograph. “The madam who works in Archeological Survey comes for a morning walk here and if she finds that I have allowed someone to climb these walls, I will be in trouble.”…). Last year, when I took my nephew and niece to the gate of Lodhi where the inscription of its inauguration is in place…April 9,1936, Lady Willingdon Park.
…Later, I took them to the place where some details relating to the capture of the Mughal emperor Bahadurshah Zafar are inscribed….where is that..?…Humayun Tombs
..Steps where we meet
“ The relation of the person to whose marriage I am going is difficult for my daughters to understand, but it is a deep intricate one. I am the son of my father’s second marriage. I am going to attend the marriage of the grandson of my step-sister, who was from his first marriage. Over the years I have maintained my connection with the children and grandchildren of my father’s first marriage.” a fellow-traveler explained to me, sitting on the steps of Bada Gumbad, one fine evening at Lodhi gardens. His daughters could not really connect to why their father had taken this special holiday and was braving this ‘inconvenient’ journey to the Garhwal hills to attend this marriage with someone whose relation to them they could not figure out. All they could understand..if thought gracefully.. “it matters to him..that is all I can say” and if in a more temperamental way.. “the old man has gone out of his balance, finding some networks and relations which do not exist”…
The steps in front of Bada Gumbad of Lodhi have been witness to many such nuances of family history. It is here that I first got a hang of how to interview people, get their details and networks and build a narrative. These are the steps where we meet.
….Paths where we walk.
Getting into the rhythm of such walks was what Lodhi gave me. In the years where I have roamed around in different countries, I have used the reflection ritual to connect and add perspective. If one thinks it over, each one of us has a place like this,around which we can build special memories
Connect: This can be a place to connect to the family perspective. Place where we did our picnics and remembered past generations
Collective: Giving a place of being a part of a unified whole is important to our sense of being human. This can be a spiritual or relational material exercise, but as the years mature, it will help paint a picture which deepens in colours and nuances
Coming: Recording and remembering narratives of when one last came to this special place can be another way of adding perspective. Who did you come with? Over the years, even if you return alone, you will never find yourself to be alone in such places
Companions: Twining such a place with another place ..having a companion place, where one will reflect can add a special significance
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While remembering Lodhi, sparked by the request of a fellow-traveler’s question on remembrance –reflection rituals.. “Will you write about Lodhi?” the words of the writer William Hazlitt in his great essay-On going a journey come to mind.
We are not the same, but another, and perhaps more enviable individual, all the time we are out of our own country. We are lost to ourselves, as well as our friends. So the poet somewhat quaintly sings:
Out of my country and myself I go.
Those who wish to forget painful thoughts, do well to absent themselves for a while from the ties and objects that recall them; but we can be said only to fulfil our destiny in the place that gave us birth. I should on this account like well enough to spend the whole of my life in travelling abroad, if I could anywhere borrow another life to spend afterwards at home!
Answering the question..will you write about Lodhi, made me reframe it another way-Where will you write about Lodhi? The concept of having a quiet place to read, reflect, remember is essential to every human being who would like to grow.
But then, one of life’s lessons is..that one does not get everything what one desires.
Or, to put it in another way.. “ You cannot have your cake and eat it too.”
Do you have such a special place with which you can connect special memories, family traditions, passing of age rituals or just watching the sunsets and moonrises.