Attention, young, shameless couples! If you think the cracked benches and crumbly tombs of Lodi Gardens is the number one place to publicly fondle your other half, think again! Because I have just (accidentally) discovered the hotspot for getting close and cosy, Delhi style.
The Garden of Five Senses is located about a kilometer from Saket metro station, and is, actually, a very lovely place. Small, walkable and absolutely spotless, it incorporates all kinds of trees and plants in an architechturally quite impressive landscape, with fancy spiralling footpaths, water features under stone arches, and plenty of sandstone benches and low walls to sit on.
I stumbled upon this place in the early evening, when the sun was sliding towards the horizon and a light September rain was starting to fall. As it was a particularly beautiful time of day, I wasn’t shocked to see a few couples perched under the trees, locked in Bollywood-style embraces. But as I walked around I noticed more and more pairs of lovers, many of whom were getting a bit too romantically enthusiastic, I thought, given that it was still daylight and we were in public. Not to mention ‘conservative’ India.
I made the mistake of climbing the small hill, from where a sign promised a spectacular view of the Qutab Minar. I heard rustling coming from a nearby bush, and then a woman squealed and lept out onto the path, giggling as she redid the buttons on her blouse. A shifty-looking man followed. I quickly headed back to the main part of the garden.
But there was little respite. By the fountain two young lovers were rolling about, entwined in each other’s limbs, and they stared at me as I awkwardly shuffled past (it was raining and I was wearing flip flops. I’m sure nothing could be of greater amusement to these people than a foreigner slipping and falling on her backside).
Another couple were pressed together under a shady archway, and numerous others were reclining on benches, or getting intimate behind trees. This was taking five-sense indulgence a bit too far, na?
It got so bad that I had no choice but to start coughing as I entered a new part of the garden, as a way of warning the couples that they were no longer alone. But this only made me look more stupid; a lonesome videshi shuffling along the slippery path while having a coughing fit? Not a good look.
And so, dear readers, I left. Impressed by Delhi’s secret garden, but also a bit mentally scarred by its ardent visitors. Until then, I’d been quite convinced of India’s innocent Bollywood approach to love, with saris blowing on hillsides and not-quite kisses. But now I don’t believe an iota of it. If I go back to the garden, I will go at a respectable hour of the morning (or early afternoon), and hopefully I’ll see something different. Picnics, maybe. Or yoga sessions. Even hand-holding wouldn’t be so inappropriate. But really, people, have a thought for your fellow garden-viewers and try to control yourselves in public. Either that or get a room.