City Season - 2024 Spring, Around Town

City Season – 2024 Spring, Around Town

Colours of Holi.

[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Spring is a time of colours, and colours mean Holi. This year, the festival is falling quite late, on March 25 (it was on March 8 last year). Even so, these days, colours are everywhere.

The Delhi sky is dark blue on this late morning. A green-and-yellow auto rickshaw passes by the Oberoi hotel. A tree standing by the hotel’s staff entrance is covered in white flowers. A guard in white says it is a kachnar. Many kachnars bear lavender-shaded flowers. One such tree is just inside the gate, the guard says. (Delhiwale in Purani Dilli make a subzi out of these flowers—it is delicious but the flowers look prettier otherwise).

Some distance away, a helmeted woman on a yellow scooter drives past a tree with yellow flowers. Introducing herself as Patricia, she graciously agrees to turn back her scooter to be photographed under the trumpet-shaped flowers (see right photo). This must be the so-called tree of gold, the Caribbean Trumpet, believed to be brought in Delhi in the 1970s. Its peak flowering shall arrive next month.

Far above the ground, unwieldy green-leaved branches are entwined with straying strands of pink bougainvillea. It looks like a mushroom cloud of pink powdery gulal stilled in mid-air. Early summer is the right time for their flowering in Delhi, a bougainvillea botanist once told The Delhi Walla. The plant blooms on soils that suffer from water scarcity, he had explained, warning that if you irrigate your garden too often, the flowers won’t appear.

A bit farther, a blue public bus (electric bus!) goes past a maroon urinal, which used to be of white tiles. It was painted to its present shade last year ahead of the G-20 summit. The adjacent traffic lights turn red. A semal tree lurks behinds, all red with its hundreds of pulpy flowers (see other photo).

Slightly farther, a neighbourhood boutique has two mannequins strutting a colour combo that goes against the gender stereotype—the male mannequin is in pink coat-pants and the female mannequin is in blue sari.

Nearby, the boundary wall of a sarkari bungalow is costumed with froths of purple. These flowers might be jacaranda, but doesn’t jacaranda usually bloom in April? Dragging his trolley down the lane, a cold water hawker is asked about the flowers. He shrugs silently.

A small wayside temple is standing by the trunk of a ficus religiosa (peepal!). The temple has a miniature statue of Bhagwan Krishna. The God’s forehead is decked with roses and bougainvilleas–meaning red, and pink. Happy Holi in advance.