City Season – Floss Silk Flowers, Around Town
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Blue is marrying into green, and green is marrying into pink. Here, near Humayun’s tomb. The blue constitutes the dome of the centuries-old Neela Gumbad; the green is the lush foliage of the surrounding trees. These two elements exist throughout the year. The pink is a guest, belonging to this season. Floss silk flowers are in bloom.
This same pink is smeared thicker, wider some distance away in Lodhi Garden, which has a great number of floss silk trees. The flowers fall continually, discreetly, making the grassy ground beneath the trees smoulder like a bed of pink-hot coals. This afternoon, in one of the remoter expanses within the garden, far from the walking tracks, two silk-floss trees have shed so much of their flowers onto the ground that, from a distance, the affected area appears to be on slow fire. Two green benches lie under these trees; each is taken over by a romantic couple. The lovers aren’t noticing the flowers. They seem to have taken the silk-floss for granted, probably indifferent to the fact that these South American flowers didn’t exist in Delhi before the 1950s.
The garden’s most impressionistic floss silk spectacle is found in its pond, beside a bridge (not the monumental Athpula stone bridge, but the small wooden one towards Sikander Lodi’s tomb). The water here is teeming with small black fish-like creatures, a few frogs, and with pink petals fallen from the adjacent trees.
The floss silk that blooms most magnificently each year is easy to reach. It stands beside the Kamani auditorium on Copernicus Marg, near the Mandi House roundabout. As in the last year, the tree’s very many five-petaled flowers are evoking the anar pathaka of the forthcoming Diwali night, the firecracker’s sparks forming a pink shower.
Then there is a row of floss silk trees outside the Ambiance Mall in Gurugram—the flowers drift down nonstop on a stretch of the mall’s driveway, their petals getting crushed by the car wheels. The sight is unsettling, as if symbolising how crude, casual and pointless is the end of beauty.
Naturally, no floss-silk travelogue can afford to ignore the stately floss silk in bloom at the hoity-toity India International Center. It stands close to the foyer where the capital’s analog-era influencers wait for their chauffeur-driven cars. Tonight, the flowery branches are hung with urn-shaped electric lamps.
The pink side of life