City Life - Two Peepal, Asaf Ali Road

City Life – Two Peepal, Asaf Ali Road

City Life - Two Peepal, Asaf Ali Road

City arbor.

[Text and photo by Mayank Austen Soofi]

While wading through a dense jungle, a slight opening of tree leaves abruptly reveals a tantalising glimpse of another world—a tower in progress, 22 floors! See photo.

The tower is actually an upcoming hospital building. The jungle is a central Delhi pave. The thandi foliage belonging to two roadside peepals.

Delhi is dry, dusty and smoggy, but against all odds, it harbours 252 species of trees. (New York has 130.) And right now it is the most colourful time of the year in the megapolis, tree-wise. Semal’s red bloom has just ended, and Amaltas is turning golden-yellow with flowers. But today, lets sing in praise of this pair of peepal.

The two gigantic trees on Asaf Ali Marg lately acquired new leaves, and bear a regal demeanour when seen in their entirety from across the busy road. Each tree is as whole and contained as a suburban sector. Indeed, some city trees tend to be not merely about flowers and beauty. Their daily destiny is shaped by anonymous citizens, who lend the trees unique urban traits not possible for their country cousins. For instance, one of these two trees functions informally as an interstate bus terminus. Every afternoon at two, a privately operated bus departs from here for Bahraich in UP, catering to Delhiwale visiting their distant home district. By the time the bus is ready to move, it gets packed with passengers, the roof loaded with sacks and bags. The journey takes 12 hours, informs one of the bus helpers, crouching under the peepal’s shade. It is early in the day, and only one man is seated inside the bus. A tree branch is almost touching his window, the peepal leaf’s pointed end inches away from the man’s eye.

The other peepal has its leafy branches fanning out like a many-armed dancer. The tree has become an impromptu refuge for a young cab driver, who isn’t from Delhi. He arrived from Jaipur some time back, dropping passengers in the vicinity, and is awaiting his next phone booking, which will take him to some other city—“anywhere in India!” After parking the cab by the curb, he had instinctively walked under the tree “because it is like the trees in my Mewat.”