City's luxurious diplomatic domains

City's luxurious diplomatic domains

With magnificent buildings in the backdrop, water fountains adorn the gardens of some. In others there are symbolic references to the dominant religion of the land.

While in the rest there are always few nooks for the residents beyond the luxurious dining and reception areas. So varied is the ambience and architecture of embassies of different countries that are situated in the national Capital of India.

“Surprisingly whenever we talk about the heritage of this city, the embassies are never taken into consideration. But they have existed here since 50-60 years and are now a part of the city’s rich architecture,” says Lalit Verma, the Pondicherry-based photographer, whose works are displayed as the exhibition ‘Delhi’s Diplomatic Domains’.

Anyone who has been to even a few of the many embassies in Chanakyapuri, can relate to the USP of each.

While those who haven’t had the good fortune to do so, would still be thrilled to catch a glimpse of these marvelous pieces of architecture which lie behind high walls of security. Depicting the culture of their country, many are miniatures of what their traditions have propounded over years. 

The pictures of the Church in Holy See embassy (with glass painted windows) and mosque in Sudan’s embassy (with rich carpeted floor) come across as most emphatic among the 36 displayed photographs.

In some, like the Egyptian embassy, Lalit has tried to capture the luxury that exudes in the orange tones of the image. In others, like the German embassy, the lensman has allowed himself to get impressed by the mirrors in the room that reflect the green from the garden outside.

However, what Metrolife observes here is the confluence of the geometric pattern of the ceiling with the colourful cushions. A true depiction of tradition and modernity in one go.

Being diplomatically correct, the photographer has placed all of them in alphabetic order but at the same time shot empty room and staircases, to enable the viewer to imagine dignitaries of their choice in them.

In the huge dining areas of embassies like Hungary and Turkey, one could visualise a Christmas or an Iftar party where these halls would be filled with people.

Lalit’s predilection with reflections has handed him some beautiful moments which are capable of being etched in a viewer’s mind for long.

For instance the falling of light like a shaft on the classic chequered floor in the Swedish embassy lights up the flower - bird of paradise, too. Also, the masterpiece which captures the ray of light from a window and reflects the chandelier’s light on the ceiling instead of the wall or floor of the Hungarian embassy.

But the favourite happens to be the tint of pink, thanks to the bougainvillea vine that guards the exterior of the Norwegian embassy.

The photographer’s reflection has also been captured in this particular picture and he enjoys the fact thanking the gardener “who did not clean the withered flowers on the floor since they add another dimension to the picture.” 

The photograph of Malaysian embassy gives a warm appeal as if the lady of the house is holding the curtain for Lalit to take the picture. Contrarily, the play of orange, green and yellow hues in Singapore’s embassy at twilight define the inclusive nature of the country (in terms of varied religions) and its commercial success. 

Placed along each other, the photographs also provide a sneak into the lives of diplomats as they make their presence felt in the public domain. The exhibition is on display at Alliance Francaise till June 4.

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