City Nature – The Dream Sky of a Nightmare City, Mainly East Delhi
The heavenly view.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
A freak occurrence, this was unthinkable in one of the world’s most polluted cities.
One evening The Delhi Walla saw an incredible sight near the Oberoi Hotel flyover. The normally grey sky was instead dyed in deep blue. Puffy blackish clouds floated like heaps of suspended cotton balls. The sky seemed to have seceded from our everyday reality.
To reassure that it was not merely a hyper-local phenomenon, I boarded an auto rickshaw and headed towards the direction of ITO to examine the sky in the north of the city. The rickshaw stopped at a traffic light near the Old Fort. Huge clouds were slowly gathering over the Mughal-era Khair Ul Manzil Masjid like a horde of Central Asian invaders.
Moved by the sight, the auto rickshaw driver said the monsoon rains have cleared the heavens of its pollutants.
Further ahead the scenery above the Pragati Maidan Metro station looked so inviting that I immediately got off the rickshaw and went up the station. The building felt like an art gallery. The balconies that overlooked the sky looked like paintings. A distant railway track looked like a last-minute embroidery hemstitched at the bottom of this once-in-a-lifetime sky. Blue and red passenger trains followed one after another in swift successions. Meanwhile, a Metro train arrived on the platform. I stepped inside.
As the Metro train ran along the heart of East Delhi, the sky became drenched with the glow of the setting sun. The last station was Vaishali. The sun had clarified into a sphere of gold. A far-away factory chimney, probably in Anand Vihar, bellowed smoke into the air.
The pedestrian bridge at the last station seemed to go all the way to the sky’s deepening red. I boarded yet another auto rickshaw. By the time it neared the apartment blocks of Vasundhara, the clouds, hanging upon an expanse of garbage, were burning in a shade of orange. Nearby, a dengue swamp nonchalantly absorbed the bleeding sky into its mosquito-filled water. A solitary red cloud standing behind a mobile phone tower looked as wrathful as the Old Testament God. He was, however, kind enough to have briefly transformed our filthy metropolis into a state of sublimity.
Once in a lifetime