Monsoon magic

Delhi during the monsoon is a changed city. Having endured the long wait for the rain gods to bring the much needed relief from the unforgiving heat, Delhiites usher in the new season with much panache.

Tea stalls of all shapes and sizes spring up out of nowhere with people making a beeline for that perfect cup of tea to match the mood during the rains. The ineffable India Gate can be seen brimming with people, right from children to the elderly, getting drenched with gay abandon. Families pack meals for the entire household and head for its sprawling lawns to eat, drink and make merry. Ice-creams, soft drinks, “chaat” and the “bhutta” can be seen disappearing off the shelves in no time.

Then, of course, there is the other side to the monsoon with huge traffic jams and water-logging being inextricably linked to the rains in the Capital.

Potholes and clogged roads holding up traffic become a routine affair during these months.

With the monsoon hitting the Capital two weeks ahead of schedule this time round, Delhiites have yet another reason to cheer up and get wet with gusto.

Manisha Jha

Shoe laundry

After acquiring protective lacquers for their cars and reinforced cement for that leaky corner of the ceiling, Delhiites this monsoon can divert their attention to the much neglected pair of sneakers.

Made to trudge through muck and mire for most of the rainy season, soaked loafers now have a new friend in Swati Mehrotra whose new showroom promises a “shoe laundry” service among other things.

Stating that the concept of shoe laundry is in vogue in Mumbai, customised footwear designer Swati Mehrotra says that for the first time denizens of the Capital will get a chance to give their shoes for laundry. “We clean the shoe, change the sole, embellish it and alter the shape. The shoe can be of leather or any other material,” adds Swati, who opened her showroom at Hauz Khas Village here this past week.

In the haute designer footwear business since last year, Swati also makes customised shoes in which dozens of operations go into the construction of such tailor-made shoes. “The important step is in the creation of the shoe last, a hand-carved wood or moulded plastic replica of the human foot. After recording over 35 measurements from a footprint that shows the distribution of body weight, the artisan judges the symmetry of the toes, calibrates the height of the big toe and the contour of the instep,” adds Swati, who also designs shoes for pets and comfort shoes for children suffering from polio.

Madhur Tankha

New look

If first impressions are usually considered to be the last ones, civic agencies in the Capital are working overtime to favourably influence casual visitors to the city by sprucing up roadside spaces.

Taking a leaf out of the impeccably maintained thoroughfares that are a fixture in most Western countries, the ITO stretch that courses along the Delhi Police headquarters is the latest path to have been put under the landscaper’s shovel.

Rusty metallic signboards -- those weathered, hand-painted friends of weary direction-seekers -- have made way for neat computer-cut vinyl and durable wrought iron; timeworn benches engraved with decades worth of lovers’ pledges have been replaced by moulded, ergonomic plastics; and the grainy dust -- the sniff and allergic potential of which was the first thing that the white man associated the country with -- has, at least for 10-odd furlongs, relinquished its position to innovative patterns of multi-coloured tiles.

With such spectacles of squeaky-clean precincts on display, motorists on the stretch would not be way off the mark in assuming that this particular roadside is one of the prettier sights in Delhi’s mazy network of pockmarked roads, wayward roadsigns and balding patches of coarse grass.

Another stretch that could do with a makeover is Ring Road along the Majnu-ka-Tila and Raj Ghat. Though stormy conditions have put an end to summer even before its onset, high-velocity winds have ripped through several hoardings placed high up on the motorists’ line of sight. Some half-suspended, others perforated and rendered unreadable and yet others supplanted en masse with a gnarled branch, the hoardings could do with the services of a windcheater if such blustery conditions persist.

Kunal Diwan