Mission Delhi - Neera Chopra, Rajpur Road

Mission Delhi – Neera Chopra, Rajpur Road

Mission Delhi - Neera Chopra, Rajpur Road

One of the one percent in 13 million.

[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]

Every morning she gets up at five, walks into the dining room, opens the door outside to the porch, and there “I look at my babies.”

Her babies are adeniums, which are “such uncommon flowers in Delhi that I didn’t spot them even in my trip last year to that famous garden beside Humayun’s tomb.”

Mother to an investment banker and a multinational’s business head, Neera Chopra unites some of the best blessings of existence. A proud alumnus of Lucknow’s Loreto Convent (“from kindergarten to BA in political science”), she lives with her lawyer husband in north Delhi’s genteel Rajpur Road. Almost a bungalow, her apartment lies close to the Lieutenant Governor’s residence. A gigantic rubber tree guards the front lawn.

Amidst all these satisfactions earned from a lifetime of devotion to the household, the gentle lady feels most possessive about her collection of adenium. She often shares their mobile phone photos on her WhatsApp group of fellow “Loreto girls.”

In her 70s, Neera was introduced to the adenium following her marriage in 1971, when a neighbour presented her with a plant sourced from Chandigarh. It didn’t survive, but Neera fell for its flowers “because they were pink, and I love pink… also because they were uncommon, and I always want something unusual.” She eventually bought a few seeds of the plant from Lucknow’s famous Botanical Garden. Some 25 years later, this evening, the descendants of those seeds adorn Neera’s domestic universe—about a hundred potted plants. “Mere bachche… they make my house look beautiful, they bring pink to my life.” The flowers are watered twice a day, with help from gardener Pappu.

Last year, Neera’s friend Anita Kochar had a house warming party at her apartment in Gurugram’s Palm Springs. Neera gifted her two adenium plants. A month back, the grateful recipient Whatsapped to her a happy update: “Hi Neera, ur babies are beginning to sprout little shoots.”

By now, the evening is sinking deeper into Rajpur Road. A bird somewhere is tweeting loudly, longingly. Neera remarks that these flowers bloom throughout the year, but during summertime months their pink colour fades as morning progresses to noon. By next morning though, refreshed after a restful night, the flowers regain their “hot pink.”

Graciously condescending to a request, Neera puts on her favourite “hot pink” lipstick to pose with her “babies.” See photo, also seen—Neera’s granddaughter Jia.

[This is the 577th portrait of Mission Delhi project]