Impressionism in Delhi.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It’s a melancholy sight. The flowers are falling noiselessly from the trees on their own volition.
One evening The Delhi Walla comes across a few trees in bloom on Central Delhi’s Maharshi Raman Road. The flowers are nestled amid the green foliage of various other trees. The purple-blue flowers seem to be the last-minute interference of an impressionist painter.
What trees are these? Are they the jacaranda, which are famous for producing such a color during this season?
In his book Trees of Delhi: A Field Guide, author Pradip Krishen describes the jacaranda as “a delicate-leaved ornamental tree—somewhat stunted in Delhi—with an open crown and low branching habit’. He says that the tree was introduced to India in the Calcutta Botanical Garden from Brazil in 1841.
But these trees on Maharshi Raman Road can as well be the Wisteria, which, too, shows a purple bloom at this time of the year. The Trees of Delhi calls it a “modest tree that at most times of the year you might walk past without a second glance but impossible to ignore when it produces clusters of deep-blue pea-flowers in Delhi’s spring.”
A cyclist goes past wearing a shirt of a somewhat similar shade as the flowers of these trees.
Apparently, there are not many Wisterias in the city, and in any case, jacaranda has more stories. In her book Grey Hornbills at Dusk: Nature Rambles Through Delhi, author Bulbul Sharma shared a moving account of a family of spotted owlets residing in her jacaranda tree.
“Once there was a pair nesting on a jacaranda tree in my garden and all our guests were given strict instructions (by me) to never look at them. “All this nature study puts me off my beer,” complained one guest as he was forced to drink without raising his head. The birds did not mind the noise we made or the barking of the dogs, as long as we made no eye contact with them. They could look at us but we could not look at them—that was the rule. The couple lived happily together, had several children, and then their children grew up and moved into the same nest. Finally, after ten years, the old jacaranda tree died and the owls, now the third or fourth generation, moved away to a new address.”
But what trees are these? Perhaps it does not matter.
Artist’s brush strokes