City Season – Bougainvillea, Udyog Vihar, Gurgaon
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
There are few respites from Delhi’s unforgiving summer. One is the blooming of amaltas flowers—but that will happen only around the month of May. The other is the widespread blossoming of the bougainvilleas, that marks the shift of the season and announces the heat to come. This is happening just now.
The bougainvilleas are springing up in many places. One such spot is a desultory stretch near plot no. 100 in Sector 35, Udyog Vihar Gurugram. The pockmarked road seems uninhabited, and is only lined with a few office buildings. Nobody’s likely to come here but those who work in these offices. The other side of this unpromising road, though, is superbly picturesque. It is thick with trees, and sporadically dandruffed with dense clusters of purplish-pink bougainvilleas.
This afternoon the area is eerily quiet, except for the hissing sound of the warm breeze. If you close your eyes, you might as well imagine yourself in a forest. But keep them open. The bougainvilleas are looking so fresh, glowing so red that you fear you might burn your fingers on touching the petals.
The flowery shrubs are not spread out in a continuous row but are scattered across the length of the muddy footpath. From a distance they look like forest fires in the Himalayas.
To be sure, one can cherish bougainvilleas in destinations where they grow more stylishly—like that famous bougainvillea tree in Delhi’s Lodhi Garden, or a certain bougainvillea-heavy spot in Buddha Jayanti Park. But there these flowers are simply a constituent of the greater beauty of their respective location.
Here, they exist more organically, in their natural wild state. A tough-world specie, bougainvillea grows best in hostile conditions (the hotter and dustier, the better). This afternoon, their thick branches are drooping down on the muddy ground littered with dry leaves and plastic bags. One spindly vine, however, is defying gravity and climbing up a tree, winding about its branch like the limbs of entwined lovers.
Meanwhile, a very many bougainvilleas petals have fallen down in a gutter.
In such an unseemly setting, the sight of these bougainvilleas looks even more precious. Watching the flowers dance in the breeze produces intense mindfulness. The immediate instinct is to reach out to these beauties and smell their perfume. But… bougainvilleas have no smell. To touch them, in fact, feels as plainly as holding paper.
And now a white cab stops by a bougainvillea creeper, its uniformed driver gets out smartly. He walks towards the flowers and begins to urinate.
Beauty, in unlikely places