Dadagiri, Gandhigiri, chamchagiri; this giri clan of words has a new word added to it- RAAHGIRI.
If you come from a small town in India, like me, you must have walked on streets, run on streets and played on streets. Streets were for us, for people. Slowly and sadly, we lost our streets to motorised vehicles and lost our freedom of space to friction of rubber on tar. Day-in day-out, we step out on streets with the same fear in hearts as a deer stepping out on a tiger’s trail. So afraid that we no more dare to walk on our streets, we prefer ourselves in some motorized monster.
How lovely it would be to get that space and its soul again? How wide would be our smile when we let our children enjoy this space and squeal in delight on these streets?
Raahgiri is just doing this unthinkable task in a place where it is most improbable: in Delhi-NCR. It began from Gurgaon and soon spread to Delhi, where Connaught place, CP, is made free of any kind of vehicle, even the rickshaw, every Sunday morning, for Raahgiri.
Raahgiri is making the street available to Raahgeer!
It went a step ahead today, on the 68th Independence Day. CP and Chandni Chowk were opened for Raahgiri for four hours till evening. While entire Inner Circle was open for Raahgiri in CP, in Chandni Chowk, it was open from Jain Mandir to Masjid Fatehpuri.
I attended both the events and it is my best Independence Day celebration.
First, the Chandni Chowk one:
I have been to this road quite a few times earlier. It is an epitome of chaos, congestion, noise and everything about it is a negative word. Yesterday, it was just a street as it was at some remote time. People were walking and bicycling. Kids were running and even flying kites from this street.
A band was playing, a qawwali team was singing, and people were dancing with a folk musician group.
Not just that, we slurped famous Amritsari lassi, practically standing in the middle of the road, outside the Masjid Fatehpuri.
I felt like I was in Europe’s old town Pedestrian only areas. The Tiranga fluttered in the gentle breeze and citizens felt protected and proud under it. There was skating, there was cycling, there was kite flying, there was running and there was Pitthu. Yes, our own childhhod favourite Pitthu.
One could sit anywhere and walk anywhere.
I wish that Raahgiri spreads to every city of India when, if nothing more, we get our streets back at least once in a week. Here is the page link to Raahgiri: