City Season – Falling Leaves, Blossoming Buds
The spring season oddities.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Smelling a pink silk tree flower, Raluca Sidon, a visitor from Bucharest, Romania, says, “I’m seeing it for the first time. It doesn’t grow in my country. I have only read about them in books.”
The Delhi Walla is with Ms Sidon in Humayun’s Tomb. It is her first day in Delhi. It is also her first day anywhere in Asia. The winter has just ended. The morning is sunny. “In Bucharest, it is still very cold, about zero degree Celsius. There is ice on the streets and the wind is chilly, which is unusual for March. There is no sign of spring.”
Delhi, however, is in the midst of its short spring spell. Jasmine flowers are blossoming. The branches of semal trees are covered with thick pulpy red flowers, which, when grown too heavy, fall on the ground with a thud. The day temperature is cool, not cold. In the noon, there is a feeling that summers are around the corner.
“Spring in Europe is very explosive,” says Ms Sidon. “When it arrives, ice melts and water in the nature starts to flow. It’s like the blood coming back to the body. First you see the flowers of apple trees and cherry trees, and then you discover that leaves have started growing.”
In Delhi’s spring, leaves fall instead, heralding the coming of summer when the water will be scarce and sandstorms from Rajasthan will be a daily occurrence. “For a tree to survive in prolonged drought, it needs to shut down,” says Pradip Krishen, author of the book, Trees of Delhi. “The best way for it to do that is to drop its leaves and stop transpiring water.”
A year ago in Bucharest, Ms Sidon wrote in her diary:
“The purple lilac is smelling fresh and bitter. The trees are in perfect state of youth. Thee leaves are as fresh as my one-year-old nephew Jacob’s ears, transparent and soft. This spring is perfectly directed. Its beauty has no equal.”
Watching the gardeners sweep away the fallen leaves from the grounds of Humayun’s Tomb complex, “ Ms Sidon says, “In Romania, all trees shed all their leaves during the autumn. They become stark naked. Here in Delhi, the leaves are falling now, but not all the leaves are falling and not from all the trees. It’s like as if this is not a seasonal thing but something that goes on all the year round.”
Picking up a dry leaf, the Romanian woman says, “ In Bucharest I missed the sun. Here I’m happy seeing it everyday.” Walking towards a mango tree, she says, “Delhi’s trees have so much life in them. May be because of the birds. I feel life in the grass too. Maybe there are snakes.”
Although we are in the second week of March, Ms Sidon, looking up at the blue sky, says, “This is feeling like late August in Bucharest.”
Raluca Sidon looks for Delhi’s spring
The silk tree pink
Gathering fallen leaves