City Walk – Winter Stroll, Hauz Khas Lake
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The receding sun has stained the sky with tints of red. And not only the sky — it looks like the lake’s waters, too, are on fire. Yet the air is cold.
Winter evenings in south Delhi’s Hauz Khas, around the lake, make the place become more than it really is. For a moment this pool, or hauz, of partially-treated wastewater, surrounded with a tree-lined walking track, gets infused with an assortment of colours and moods, overwhelming in their fleeting duration.
On one rare evening the sky is free of the customary Delhi smog, enabling the setting sun to take centre stage. From certain vantage points, its golden colour seems to be bleeding straight into the water, and the glassy surface of the lake turns into an alternate sky. A handful of evening walkers can be spotted here and there, along with a few monkeys. The area is dense with grass, and some days ago The Delhi Walla had come across a snake slithering along this very path.
The few ducks navigating the waters seem to parallel the few birds crisscrossing in the air. Some of these birds come to land on the water surface, bobbing up and down the wavelets without tripping over. One bird has settled at the top of a dead tree. The tree is partially submerged, its bare trunks spreading over the placid lake like latitudes and longitudes. The entire scenery feels remote, making the visitor feel that they have travelled too far from the familiar world. It’s impossible to believe that the chaotic Outer Ring Road is merely a ten-minutes walk away.
In one corner of the lake, a boat is marooned. It is lying tilted, its front tipped upwards, its rear half-sunk.
Soon the sky turns a deeper red, and so does the water. The colour gets intenser, so solid and tangible that you might as well raise your hand and pluck it like a fruit from the tree.
And suddenly it’s gone, all of it. The red colour, the sun and the magic. Some light lingers for a moment, and then everything turns black. The lake disappears, looking like a shiny void. This is the moment when the island in the center of the lake comes alive, with hundreds of bats flying out of its many trees. Now another magic begins.