Went to meet Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit at her residence on Friday, an appointment that was fixed after many phone calls and follow-ups. It wasn’t all that special. Sheila D was the dear old lady you’d expect from her reputation, sweet and articulate at the same time, and she gamely put on a Delhi Metro helmet we’d taken along for the photograph. But we were on limited time and I only got some very basic quotes. Little chance for a searching interrogation (not that I’d gone there with a pen dipped in acid).
I have to do the Big Delhi Piece for the coming week, a gulp-inducing thought. But that’s another story. What really made the Jabberwock burble out loud while sitting, pad in hand, in the waiting room, was the spectre of dozens of enormous bats hanging upside down from the branches of a single tree in the chief minister’s garden. This sounds improbable even as I write it, but it’s true. Initially I thought my photographer was batty when she pointed them out; I couldn’t see the tree clearly from where I was seated, and it was only when I got up and strolled out onto the lawn that I saw them for myself. Then I felt like Tippi Hedren in The Birds - if there had been a cigarette in my mouth, it would have fallen out. There they were in rows, sunning themselves lazily, jostling for space, occasionally opening and closing their big cape-like wings. Huge, some easily as big as crows, all presumably asleep as good bats should be in mid-afternoon, which didn’t at all explain why shrieking sounds emanated from the tree at intervals. (Is that a form of snoring? Samit, do you know? What do your tantrically sexy marpusial wombats do?)
You wouldn’t think of large vampire bats as being cute, not unless you’re Mrs Bela Lugosi, but they have an undoubted charm so long as they stay in the far distance. Later I was tempted to ask Mrs Dikshit if perhaps she kept them as pets, but thought better of it. We do have a photograph, not a very clear one but it’ll serve the purpose if years from now someone needs proof that our sweet CM used black magic to get Delhi’s flyovers completed in double-quick time.