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City Season – Semal Tree, Daryaganj Police Station

The news of summer.

[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Delhi’s brief winter ends in January. February is pleasingly cool in the city. March is always warm.

But this year March continued to behave like February. Then one morning the giant semal tree outside the Daryaganj Police Station clothed itself with thick red flowers. That day it became warm in Delhi.

A harbinger of summer, this blossoming tree in Daryaganj tried to soften the news of the impending arrival of hot dusty days by gently showering its red pulpy flowers on the ground below. Some of these flowers fell beside a bike. Some fell on the road; a few of them were crushed under the wheels of the passing cars. Two flowers fell upon the windshield of a police vehicle. Two lay on the yellow roof of an auto-rickshaw.

The petals felt cold on touch. It appeared as if they had obediently absorbed the sun’s white heat, and through some internal mechanism transformed that high temperature into something as nicely bearable as a February noon. Cocooned in unalloyed tranquility, these mute flowers seemed to say, “Yes, soon it will get very hot. But don’t panic, it’ll be tolerable this time. Trust us.”

The old lie.

The difficult season is almost here










4 thoughts on “City Season – Semal Tree, Daryaganj Police Station

  1. Spring of 2015, Delhi, has been exceptionally beautiful. I can’t remember any other year in Delhi that was more glamorous. Pics no. 7 (canopy of red flowers )& 9 (of bold and passionate flowers) are simply gorgeous!

  2. The very first Tagore song I learnt to sing was “Ektuku choa Lage, ektuku kotha suni, tai diye mone, mone, rochimomo falguni, kichu palasher nesha…” (a slightest touch, a few indistinct words, with these in my soul, I compose a spring melody, as colorful and intoxicating as the Palash flower…). It was always my deepest desire to hold this Palash flower in my hand and see for myself what it actually looked like. I thought it was a native of only Bengal. Through your story, I made a very happy discovery: Semal and Palash are names of the same flower and there are lots of Palash trees all over Delhi. There is one just next door where I live and there are several near my office of different colors, orange, red, etc…It is rather funny to know that certain things are so close by and you don’t even notice it…

  3. Dear Jasbir,

    Palash and Semal are two different flowers. Semal or silk-cotton (Bombax ceiba), which is shown here, is very common in Delhi. The flaming red shower on the trees advertises itself prominently at many places in February and March. Palash (Butea monosperma) is relatively difficult to spot. The Mother’s International School on Sri Aurobindo Marg has planted many a few years ago. You may want to have a look at them during spring.

    with regards and thanks to MAS for the nice pictures and commentary


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