City Season – New Leaves of Pilkhan Trees, Deer Park and Elsewhere
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
How can there be so much disconcert in the world when pilkhan is dressed in new leaves?
These are not a singular shade of red. Some leaves have a burnished tinge, some tend towards the roseate, some have the intensity of a winter fireside, and some have the glow of the gold dawn. Then there are leaves that are dark red, resembling the hue of Rooh Afza sherbet.
These pilkhans are here in south Delhi’s Deer Park. The old leaves of the tree begin to fall by mid-February. New leaves come out in early March. Their embryonic shade is always a version of purple, which shifts to red, and progresses into tones of russets and bronzes. Curiously, this evening many people walking in the park seem unmoved by the pageantry. Nobody’s head is turning up in awe.
Now two young women start snapping their serial-selfies with these leaves.
The pilkhan red is currently spread across the Delhi region. A modest al fresco eatery near Jama Masjid in Gurugram’s Sadar Bazar has its two tables laid out on the ragged pavement, directly under the canopy of this tree. Finishing off the yummy Moradabadi biryani under this coppery red gorgeousness is like being in a foreign vacation. In New Delhi, pilkhans abound in many avenues such as Neeti and Nyaya Marg. Across the river in Preet Vihar, a pilkhan is permeated with the orange luminosity of twilight—at noon.
The intensest pilkhan experience is to be exclusively availed at Deer Park, on the walkway around the Hauz Khas lake. Only a few of these trees are speckled here and there, but the preciousness of the red haloes are accentuated by the ordinary masses of green trees. One flaming red pilkhan is so gigantic that it rises to the top of an adjacent multi-storey complex. From a distance, it looks like a gigantic beehive. Now an aeroplane appears high above in the sky, and soundlessly passes over a Deer Park pilkhan.
These red leaves shall soon turn green. Pilkhan will then go back to being ordinary.
Flames of Pilkhan