“Look, there’s joy,” said a former Lounge columnist I was meeting after two years, pointing to a group of college students dancing on a blanket in Delhi’s Lodhi Gardens during a picnic. In an odd coincidence, three meetings I had this week in Delhi were in parks—one of the perks of working with artists and photographers—and at every one of them, I ended up watching people having picnics. It seemed appropriate that we were working on a cover story on picnics for Lounge since this seems to be the season for them, bad air notwithstanding.
A few days earlier, while waiting for another writer at Sunder Nursery (in photo above), I had watched families settling down for their day outdoors. They had come well-prepared for their picnics—carrying their blankets, hampers, flasks and water bottles, chairs for the older members, badminton rackets and other paraphernalia for the younger ones, in an ordered procession, setting up with practised precision, and then sprawling out to relax for the next few hours.
Hours of planning may have gone into the picnic hamper but once it is unpacked, there’s a sense of freedom that seems to pervade. Sharing a meal outdoors is a break from the routine, a chance to connect with people in real life, people-watch, gawk at trees and birds and play games—it’s uncomplicated. Being outdoors in good company (though fresh air may not always be guaranteed in our cities) always seems to cheer people up.
Our cover story gives you ideas to plan the perfect picnic, whether you are spending the day with family, friends or by yourself. Food is central to the experience, of course, but we have also set you up with playlists, gadgets and apps, and books to read—though we would recommend carrying a copy of Lounge to the park for your picnic. For, there is a lot to read in it this week—from a review of a show of Robert Capa’s work to an essay by Pranay Lal on the future of fevers, to an exploration of curated experiences for luxury weddings.
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