City Season – October Optimism, Around Town
The end of summer.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Mid-morning. Kasturba Gandhi Marg: the biker in a long sleeved shirt. Safdarjang’s Tomb: the stones of the monument no longer burn the bare feet. A bungalow in Green Park: blankets drying off on balcony railings. Kinari Bazaar: quilts on sale. Matia Mahal bazaar: beggars wrapped up in woolen shawls.
This is October.
The Delhi Walla is in Connaught Place. William Dalrymple’s City of Djinns — A Year in Delhi is in my shoulder bag. I take it out, flip through pages and stop at page 46.
“… October was a season of strange and fiery sunsets… Compared with the months before the temperature was suddenly quite bearable. Up in the high Himalayas the first snows had begun to fall and cool winds were blowing down, quenching the fires of the plains. Though it was still very warm…”
True, it is still warm. See, the park above the Palika Bazaar Parking is empty. Its grass still has patches of brown. In winters, it should be wet and green. The park ought to be crowded with people wanting to snatch a slice of Delhi’s sun. But this morning is so hot, even though it is October. The sun is not pleasing. The sky is not totally blue. Far away, the LIC building is shimmering behind a dusty haze. The pigeons, too, are flying restlessly. Searching for shade? There are hedges, plants and flowers, but no trees, no shade, no refuge from the heat that has become only less intolerable now. Look, a man is sleeping, under the shade of a rubbish bin.
Leaving the park, I walk towards Palika Bazaar’s Gate No. 1. It is air-conditioned inside, but where is the season’s natural coolness? Across the road is F-Block where, under the pilkhand tree, the paani-walla is still selling refrigerated cold water.
I take a few steps on the lane skirting the park above Palika Bazaar and suddenly chance upon the LIC building. This time there is no haze around it. Instead, two giant trees are framing it into a pleasant portrait. I slip in. Suddenly, shade. The temperature drops. The air nippy. Almost cold. Now, October.
[The photos were taken in the Octobers of various years]
Stones are less warm, Safdarjang’s Tomb
October flowers, Green Park
Still hot, the park above Palika Bazar Parking
October Sky, Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah
Chai, Kinari Bazaar
Some shade this, the park above Palika Bazar Parking