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raptures raptures

On Sunday 7 March 2010 - a few of us daring souls responded to the call to adventure - the first frontrunner "expedition". We met under the Aravalli bio diversity park sign - I knew then that we were onto something and somewhere good. It was a natural fit for frontrunners.
The park is beautiful - a haven for peacocks and partridges, peace and quiet and wonderful ridge views - just here in the heart of south Delhi. The start was tough - uphill and and onward to the top of the ridge valley. Our wonderful host had researched much about this area - we learnt that we were climbing the foothills of the Aravalli mountain range. Hard to believe it felt so  remote - when so close to Priya market. The sunset light was magnificent as we admired the lush foliage, the twisting path and a couple of small discreet temples.
My favourite viewing spot was the highest point as you cross over the ridge valley - with the dense jungle floor - more Indiana Jones than Vasant Vihar. Raptures were exclaimed as we passed some beautiful rocks and exquisite wooden fencing - which was critiqued more as living art than functional animal control.  It was made entirely of hundreds of dried, slim and uniquely shaped tree branches!  Three horizontal rows hoisted on vertical branches dug deep into the ground.  A carcass of trees, guarding their greens fiercely.

South Delhi's posh locality, Vasant Vihar makes a skyline of pucca houses, what are also called Kothiyaan.  Just as we ended the run we saw a skyline very different from the rest of Vasant Vihar.  It was a skyline of shacks, smaller houses, that seemed to be floating on a sea of garbage.  A skyline of poverty right next to a skyline of prosperity.  A single panoramic view that captured so well a rather mundane contradiction - of life in Delhi.     

Frontrunners did themselves proud - and even made friends with some locals.  We learnt from them that Vasant Vihar has a neighbour by the name of Kusumpur Pahadi.  People heading toward Kusumpur, most likely it's inhabitants, looked very different from those of Vasant Vihar.  This prompted our curiosity and we got chatting with the park's security guard and his friend.  They told us not to go that side as it was not suitable - for us.  "It is full of shit and garbage", one of them said.  Later we found out that Kusumpur Pahadi is a slum area inhabited by more than two lakh migrant families. They mainly comprise domestic workers, labourers, painters and masons.

We had two first timers who made admirable effort in connecting with us.  One of them came of from North Campus, and the other from - even farther - Ghaziabad!  Delighted to have them join us. 

This week we had FrontRunners at two different locations - at the same time!  This happened because two of us went to another park by mistake, but were lucky to find each other.  Two is company, they say.  We say it's a party!


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