City Hangout – Spring-Time Subz Burj, Mathura Road
A panorama of colours.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Holi has arrived in advance, heralded in a dream potion of red, green, and two strains of blue. The sheeny shades are so charged with lustiness that you fear a sudden breeze might splatter them into the air.
This is currently among the most stirring sights in Delhi, here at the traffic roundabout on Mathura Road. The setting’s flamboyant green is issuing out from the grassy ground. The more spirited of the two blues is emanating from the dome of Subz Burj, the 16th century tomb at the centre of the traffic island, while the other blue is glaring off the clear sky, the season’s brief gift to our smoggy metropolis. And then there’s the great showstopper — a red so jaw-dropping, as if it were generously tinctured with haemoglobin. These are the blooming flowers of semal trees. Such a spectacle cannot be replicated elsewhere, even if other places have lusher semals or bluer skies. They will still lack the third constituent of the trinity — the aforementioned monument.
This evening hundreds, perhaps thousands, of flowers, have dropped down from the roundabout’s three gigantic semals, littering the ground like martyred soldiers in a battlefield. But the blue dome stands as aloof as an unfeeling warmonger safely snuggled within his kremlin, physically removed from the bloodshed. Other people might see the scene less pessimistically, perhaps finding in it a postcard-perfect evocation of spring-time Delhi. Sadly, no one is caring for the scene. Not one speeding vehicle has slowed. No awe-struck face has emerged out of any car window.
This brawl of colours had appeared on the roundabout the previous springs too, but the Burj’s restored blue was not there then. The monument’s conservation had yet to conclude, and the roundabout would usually be barred to visitors. Today, it is possible to enter, but be cautious, the fleshy semal flowers tend to be extremely slippery. Lal Babu Singh, the guard on duty, finds it hard to be thrilled about these blossoms. A flower fell on his head moments back, he complains, and now one more falls, followed by another. Half exasperated and half bored, he steps over the fallen flowers with firm foot, his gaze turned towards the traffic.