Thursday, 19 March 2015

Travels within myself: Connaught Place, circa midnight

The dog comes zooming in urgently from my right and vanishes straight into the wall between two shops. Astonishing as it is, it does not feel impossible in this witching hour. The white colonnades of Connaught Place are gleaming in part moonlight, part neon-glow. Light is falling almost everywhere. The lamps in the inner circle shining on locked up cigarette stands; the oranges and yellows of ads brightening up closed shutters.

In this crowd of light there is a solitude of people. In the last block, there was a guard on night duty, eating a late dinner with his back turned determinedly towards the world – which wasn't there. In the next block, there is another guard who has befriended a homeless man and they sit on a shared blanket swapping desultory stories, as one who cannot go to sleep and one who is not allowed to. In this block, there is only the dog. Or was, till he vanished into the wall.

As suits a midnight mystery, the solution of the dog's vanishing act is even more enigmatic. Between the two shops in A Block is this narrow entrance to a corridor, which we have never spotted in 25 odd years of roaming the inner circle. It is more astonishing than the vanishing dog. Maybe it only appears at night?

What is happening is that the city is opening up to me. More and more they will appear now, as i roam around with only risk and release for companions: the corridors, the doorways, the tunnels, the apertures, and pipelines and gaps and secret holes in the wall. Just this now, it has opened up in a narrow and long portal that leads to a speck of light at the end of the tunnel.

Alone, at about 11.45 at night, i don't have the confidence to enter it. I will come again when we both have more light. It will lead, i know, to some backyard between the inner and middle circles, with restaurant bins, fire escapes, and maybe a Peepal tree. And to a dog resting content, having reached his destination.