City Walk – Defence Colony Flyover, South Delhi
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The window panes are broken. Inside, the room is as dark as moonless midnight. The other windows on the wall are similarly dilapidated. Nobody lives in the building. It is deserted. So is the next building, and the next building, and the next.
The dismal view on the roadside unspools on your left as you start to walk along the gentle slope of Defence Colony flyover. These government flats lining the road have been vacant for some years; a few in fact have already been demolished. Soon you reach a dramatic vantage point. The roadside’s bleakness is abruptly transfigured into merry wilderness. The empty derelict apartments, whose walls almost touch the flyover railing, cease to be empty and derelict. Dressed in fantastical costumes of verdure and herbage, their spirit lean close to the savage beauty of Alexander McQueen’s flamboyant couture. Overlong green creepers cascade down from roofs and terraces, blocking out the concrete in many places. Throwing away all their proprieties, the surrounding trees have let their foliage grown out of control, their loopy leafy branches evoking the whirring arms of a ring juggler.
The frenzied wild is best viewed from the higher altitude of the flyover, but is barely registered by us. Perhaps because we chose to experience this flyover only as a commuting utility. One of the houses is a sight beyond belief—see the photo. The whole block has been seized by a rowdy army of vines and weeds. A thicket of super-lush trees make the rear. The only thing left wholly alone is a TV dish antenna. A luminous beam of the afternoon sun, playing hide and seek with a tiny monsoon cloud, briefly rams into the dish. The scene resembles the mood of a magic-realism novel.
Now a man in starched kurta pajama appears. He walks straight for a while after which he turns left into a cluster of trees overlooking the flyover, and vanishes. Actually, a connecting staircase is half-hidden in there, that descends to Sewa Nagar railway station underneath. This staircase too is wildly weeded. But no sign of the man. Was he for real, or was he an apparition borne out momentarily from this lawless green?
The roadside magic-realism