Winter has arrived. It is the season for Delhi’s young couples to flock in great numbers in the city’s various gardens and parks. The Capital’s public parks have always doubled as private spaces for young lovers who, due to various reasons, cannot seek the joys of physical intimacy in any other place. Lately, these gardens have also acquired individual flavours.
The rugged landscape of Buddha Jayanti Park, for instance, is for the adventurous. Lodhi Garden, thanks to its numerous walkers, suits those who prefer safety in numbers. Nehru Park is popular among the homosexual community. In pre-Metro days, Central Park, at Connaught Place, was a haunt for sex workers. It’s a ‘Happy Family’ zone now.
Prachi and Mukul (both their names have been changed; they spoke on condition of anonymity) often spend afternoons at Lodhi Garden. Once described by Time magazine as Asia’s best urban oasis, Lodhi Garden holds no charm for these love birds from Uttam Nagar. “We don’t come to gaze at tombs and trees,” says 19-year-old Prachi. She met 23-year-old Mukul at a computer institute in Kirti Nagar, fell in love, and then wondered where to get ‘cozy’.
West Delhi, where home is, was out of the question. Central Park? No bushes. Buddha Park? Too dangerous (“goonda elements”). Millennium Park? Too far. Lodhi Garden? Yes! “Lodhi Garden is fuss-free,” says Mukul. “No one asks you what you’re doing or why you’re doing it.” The couple tried Buddha Park last year but were harassed for money by an eunuch and shortly afterwards by a bored loner (who threatened to dial ‘Mummy Papa’).
However, that sort of harassment hasn’t stopped Buddha Park from acquiring a “fast” reputation. The kissing and groping in Lodhi is like a child’s play to the more adult stuff going on there. The stories about eve teasing too haven’t added to its reputation.
Perhaps one place in Delhi where eves are perfectly safe is Nehru Park, described in a google search as “the Grande Dame of all gay cruising places in the capital.” Evenings there usually see men eyeing each other discretely.
Discretion is the thing that straight lovers could learn from their homosexual counterparts. “In my walks, I don’t know when I would stumble into these ladka-ladkis,” says a senior bureaucrat, living in a bungalow just across the road from Lodhi Garden. “Their activities are just not a part of our culture,” she says.