City Hangout – February Light, Around Town
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Before finalising the locale for the movie Winter Light, in 1961, filmmaker Ingram Bergman journeyed through a series of churches in north Sweden, sitting for hours on the pews of each church to observe the progress of daylight. He could as well have studied the nuances of changing daylight in this Gurgaon church. The element is a principal character inside the Church of Epiphany (new wing), in Civil Lines, generously speckled with welcoming windows. The sun rays start by lingering in the prayer hall discreetly, like an eavesdropper behind the curtain. Gradually they turn bold and spread, filing up even the hidden corners and crevices, passing along the gilded pink edges of paperback Bibles.
February is a season of clear skies and brilliant sunshine in our otherwise smoggy Delhi. To find places where the light looks at its artistic best is a citizen’s necessary obligation.
Author Ahmad Ali set his novel Twilight in Delhi in Old Delhi, but twilight in the futuristic Millennium City is as mesmerising. Especially when experienced from one of the three landscaped foot-over bridges that span the big wide road in DLF Cybercity. Here you see the the sky dissolving into a crimson nothingness, with the sun dipping behind a row of distant high-rises. At frequent intervals, the Rapid Metro coaches, in the far horizon, pierce through this setting, silently sliding along the elevated tracks laid beside those high-rises.
Now, hop, skip and jump to the other side of the capital region, in Zila Ghaziabad. The post-sunset platform at Vaishali metro station transforms into a museum gallery showing gigantic canvases of magic-impressionism. The sky above the station’s curvy roof is washed with tints and tones of a translucent purple, that abruptly darkens into blackness. A few stubborn islands of pink and orange linger for a few minutes. They too die out, as if somebody were turning out the auditorium lights in no logical sequence.
Then there is the touristy Hauz Khas Village with its centuries old monuments. In the late afternoon, when the sky is blue, the more coveted monument-facing rooms in the village Airbnbs fill up with quivering pools of white light. The room swells out, mimicking the scope of the open sky outside the wide glass windows. You feel your bed is floating in a sea of light.
Finally, no matter how far your home/office might be from Delhi’s diplomatic enclave, you have to treat yourself at least once this February to an evening stroll along the lawns of Shanti Path. The 6.30pm sky here gleams in orange and blue so concentrated that the shades threaten to drip-drop upon you from their great height. A mobile phone click cannot do justice to the scene, but still, see the photo.