City Life – The Shriram Family’s Pine & Seeta Ashok Trees, Sardar Patel Road
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
On a cool central Delhi evening, The Delhi Walla is drinking tea with businessman Madhav Shriram and his wife, Divya, at their park magnificently enhanced by a Seeta Ashok tree.
But the park and family bungalow on Sardar Patel Marg are not only graced by the Ashok. There’s also a glorious pine on the driveway — a rare sight in the nation’s capital.
“These two trees are like members of the family. The Ashok was planted by my mother,” says Mr Shriram. “The pine goes way back. My father planted it in the 70s, so we’ve been able to chart its progress over the years.”
Pine trees are generally found in the Himalayas but seldom anywhere else in India. There’s a little cluster in Nehru Park and around the Rashtrapati Bhawan grounds.
Or, you may have to befriend the Shrirams.
Mr Shriram goes on to say that their home had to be expanded over the years to make room for a growing family. The Seeta Ashok, which originally flourished in a corner, now finds itself in the center of the park. And the pine, which was planted beside an artificial pond, now skirts the bungalow’s boundary (the pond has been paved over).
At this time of the year, ripened cones fall in large numbers from the pine. Until recently, the family would gather all the cones and build a bonfire. “Totally unthinkable now, what with the pollution,” says Divya. She describes her annual Diwali party when she hangs lamps around the luscious Ashok. The tree grows so large that the gardener has to trim it each year just before the first monsoon shower.
Our tea party draws to a close as the evening chill sets in. The couple, joined by their son Rohan, slowly walk back inside the bungalow, leaving their two great trees to stand like silent sentries.
Tea beside a private Pine