City Season – Gulmohar Blossoming, Around Town
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
There’s fire raging these days across the city. The gulmohar trees are in scarlet bloom. Their flowering tend to be unpredictable. Sometimes they’re just a few vines of blossom in the tree’s dense foliage, looking like a flash of lightning in the sky. And sometimes the whole tree becomes an entanglement of that red, as if a flame is leaping about uncontrollably.
The first flowers start popping out in late April, and by May the gulmohar’s glow covers the city like a blush spreading on a shy man’s cheek. One of the best places to spot them is in… well, Gulmohar Park, the neighbourhood. Nehru Park, too, possesses a few gulmohars of the most brilliant red. The gulmohar aficionados will also like to drive through Shanti Path in the diplomatic enclave. And lest we forget, a handful of gorgeous gulmohars stand on the road between Nehru Place and Kailash Colony Metro station; the broad pavement is presently covered with fallen reds that the municipal staff gathers in the morning. (One wonders where these flowers end up—in the landfills of Ghazipur, where a part of the city’s trash is disposed off?)
Since these are extraordinary times, with the city in lockdown, there is no going out for gulmohar-spotting. The best is to look out in your neighbourhood, and marvel at your luck if you are able to catch a glimpse of the flowery flames through a window or balcony. Like this third floor apartment in Hauz Khas village, into which a blossoming gulmohar branch is currently peeping in like a nosy neighbour. Nearby, a forestry area is speckled with stand-alone gulmohars, each separated from the other by neems, peepals, pilkhans, and bougainvillaeas. One dare not enter this wild jungle, but the fence running along the road, connecting Hauz Khas village to Aurobindo Market, has several good observation spots. From there, the gulmohars look like bonfires. This late afternoon, some of the red flowers are falling whole on the pavement. Each flower has five petals, and curiously enough one of them is always white with streaks of red. As you gaze at the petals, you’ll note that they carry many hues of red, almost amounting to orange at places.
This is also the season of the blooming for amaltas. Outside a bungalow in Vasant Vihar’s Poorvi Marg, the branches of an amaltas are entangled within the branches of a gulmohar. You are left unsure where your true loyalties lie.
The fires this time