City Season – Gulmohar Sightings, Gulmohar Park & Elsewhere
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
This tree has such a bad timing. Each year, as the gulmohar begins to bloom, a more forceful distraction arrives: The bystander gets dazzled by the yellow blossoming of the Amaltas. But gulmohar arrives earlier. These days, throughout the metropolis, car windshields are crisscrossed with reflections of these red blossoms. Only now one realises the existence of so many gulmohars in our midst.
The early flowers spring up in late April. “The first thing I see from my gate, when I pick up the newspapers, is the gulmohar in our society that was planted by my friend Prachi in 2008 when we both shifted here,” says author Farah Naaz, who lives in Gurgaon’s Ardee City in Sector 52. “She now lives in New Jersey, and every year I click a picture of the tree for her,”. Indeed, parts of Gurgaon’s Sector 52 and 56, as well as Sushant Lok, are burning with the flames of gulmohar.
Curiously, The Delhi Walla could not spot any gulmohar in the Millennium City’s Gulmohar Marg. But south Delhi’s Gulmohar Park justly deserves its name. The lanes here are generously sprinkled with these trees. There’s a gulmohar even in the so-called Gulmohar Club, but it is hidden behind a row of Ashoka trees. This evening, in the community park, a “gully cricket” match is underway (see photo). The players have come from nearby Gautam Nagar. Bhavya, the batsman, is standing right under a deep red gulmohar. Its colour seem to have leaked onto the young man’s T-shirt — otherwise, how could it be of the same red?
The gulmohar aficionados might also enjoy a drive through the diplomatic enclave of Shanti Path. The tree-lined avenue is punctuated with blossoming gulmohars. The front porch of the German embassy has a specimen that looks like Diwali’s anaar, bursting into sparkles of the same shade as the German ambassador’s Ambassador car, painted red.
Unlike amaltas flowers that fall down like showers, gulmohars fall less eagerly. Each flower has five petals, one of them is white with streaks of red.
A noteworthy gulmohar also towers in upscale Nizamuddin East. Its scarlet-red tinge outshines the blue dome of a nearby tomb. Gazing at the blossom, Shamina Husain, who works as a housekeeper in the neighbourhood, notes that there are trees in her locality too—in nearby Sarai Kale Khan, across the rail tracks—“but not this tree with red flowers.”
The fires this time