City Walk – Babar Road, Central Delhi
Into a bubble.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The tree is tall, wide and choked with green leaves. You can spend a long time surveying its immense proportions consisting of dozens of branches. The tree gets even more elaborate because it is casting a shadow equally huge on a building’s long wall that runs along a path. Some leaves tremble with a sudden breeze. So do the shadows of those leaves.
But this is just one tree. Babar Road has a multitude of trees with similarly magnificent canopies. The avenue is in Delhi’s heart, but feels far from the metropolis, as if it were the suburb of a suburb. So detached. Full of birds twittering. The muffled roar of passing autos and cars sound like the drone from distant motor boats speeding down a river.
Indeed, the road is like a stream coursing through a getaway resort of cosy beauty. And the sidewalk is unimaginably gigantic, almost the width of the road — a rarity in our walk-unfriendly city.
This afternoon, the sidewalk is empty, making you feel that the entire stretch was built for your convenience. Large houses stand on both sides — you may see colourful laundry hanging on the roofs. One house has French windows with shutters.
The road is punctuated with side lanes, harbouring more of such trees and such residences. Some of the buildings happen to be offices and clinics (one banner reads: “Centre of excellence for stem cell therapy and research”). Some parts of the sidewalk are decorated with well-maintained potted plants.
An adjoining U-shaped market is sprinkled with a handful of dhabas serving affordable khana. Even so, the area exudes an unmistakable vibe of privilege. As if no matter what happens everywhere else in smoggy, disparate Delhi, the gentry of tranquil Babar Road will continue to live unaffected in their little haven.
Nearby, there are rail tracks. So you frequently hear the sound of rushing trains.
Towards the end of the road, the sidewalk skirts past a red building with a most arresting staircase (see photo). The top flight is shorn of walls, and descends like a cascading waterfall. Just this sight alone is enough to make Babar Road worthy of an expedition.
Like a walk in the clouds