City Walk – Niti Marg, Central Delhi
Sunny day walk.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
It is limpid in some places, parched in others. It is not a stream. Rationalists will rightly dismiss it as a mere optical illusion. But the magic is palpable— an ordinary pedestrian path has been rendered extraordinary by the sunny afternoon light.
Streaming down from a clear blue sky, the straight beams of sunshine crash-land on the unwieldily trees that line both sides of the path. The very many leaves cause the light to scatter into a multitude of fragments, which fall on the paved track with the splatter of a Jackson Pollack painting.
The consequence is ethereal. Patches of gold and white are crisscrossing the walkway. This patchwork, in turn, is crisscrossed with the shapely shadows of leaves.
As Delhi winter ends and the harsh summer is yet to begin, you ought to exploit this small window to a friendly sun. Like, undertake a walk on this track. It is easily accessible—snuggled in the city’s sanitised heart, near Ashok Hotel in Chanakyapuri. It unspools along the entire length of Niti Marg (not to be confused with Neeti Bagh), and runs parallel to Nehru Park, across the road.
This moment, hardly any citizen is walking on the track. The road traffic, too, is light. Further ahead, a lazy mongoose is lying sun-soaked on the empty path. Turns out that the mongoose is actually a curled-up brown leaf, slowly rotting.
The concluding bit of the long track goes past a row of double-storey apartments. These are the residences of government officers. A tall leafless tree is leaning out from a walled-in lawn of one of these houses. Its naked limbs are dressed in white balloons.
Meanwhile, the split sunlight continue to splash the track. Thrilling to navigate through this archipelago of brightness and shadows. The light has also sliced each of the trees into slabs of varying luminosities. Some portions of the dense green foliage are submerged in cold shade, others are moderately lit. A few leaves are burning white. Occasionally, this shining light, sluggishly dripping down through the checker works of leaves, flings dancing coins on your skin. Delhi rarely feels so exuberant.