City Nature – Tree Heroes, M-Block, Greater Kailash 2
Icons of a tree-lined road.
[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Rendered conscious by the camera, these three are standing stiffly under the long slant branch of a tree. Years ago, Dharamveer, Hasan, Azim, and a handful of others not seen in the photo, planted a dozen or so saplings on this road with no prior coordination. Those saplings have grown into gigantic trees.
Dripping green with their dense foliage, the trees make a patchy roof of leaves along the tarmac, filling up the space underneath with shade, fresh air and coolness. This afternoon, a gentleman is snoozing under a peepal, while sprawled on a string cot.
The short tree-lined road lies hidden behind M Block Market in Greater Kailash 2. It is also speckled with car repair workshops. Indeed, almost everyone who planted these trees happen to be a car mechanic, including the aforementioned Azim, who being a tyre puncture specialist, is known by his colleagues as Tyre Wale Mullahji.
Here’s a list of all the citizens who had the foresight to plant these trees, most of which date from more than two decades ago.
Partap Singh planted five peepals. Dharamveer planted a peepal and a pilkhan. Sipahi Lal planted two peepals. Azim planted two bargads. Hasan planted a peepal. Ramesh Painter planted two pilkhan. Bhupinder Sungh, who isn’t a mechanic but inherited a taxi stand, planted two pilkhans.
Two of these tree pioneers—Ramesh Painter and Partap Singh—have died.
Initially this stretch had car repair workshops, but no trees. “It would get intolerably hot under the summer sun, forcing us to work under sheets of tirpal,” recalls Azim, a veteran here for 40 years. Gradually, the mechanics started to plant saplings on the roadside—the late Partap Singh was the first to do so. Nurtured by a consistent care, the plants grew into these luscious trees; each tree is as vast as a stand-alone forest.
“These trees give beauty to the road,” mechanic Asif notes matter-of-factly.
The car workshops are routinely rejuvenated with an influx of younger mechanics. Some of the newer trees, a few of which are mere plants, are the doings of those boys. The world might still be saved.