Friday, 26 April 2019

The Riotous Colours of Summer in Shanti Van

A Walk Through Trees - April 2018

Delhi trees lately have been the source of joy as they surprise you in different season in parks like Lodhi Garden, Nehru Park, Mahavir Vanasthali and Buddha Jayanti Park. But it is the modern and independent India’s necropolis that provides the ultimate surprise. The trees stand guard over leaders who have been cremated here over the years. Now that you wonder, it does seem that the trees provide shade and succour to the souls resting here who have mostly suffered violent deaths.

The Colours of Pilkhan Trees

On a perfect early summer morning, you are back at Shanti Van, the final resting place of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, India’s first Prime Minister. The walk will start from the parking lot. Just like last year when you chanced upon the blooming fairyland of Barna trees, the feeling is quite good that it will be another rewarding morning.

Wild Almond (Sterculia foetida) blossoms and new leaves

Earlier, waking up early in the morning you check the weather app. It says Hazy. They probably forgot to add the word Purple. Up ahead, a tall tree is enveloped in a purple haze. One side of the pathway leading into Shanti Van is lined with tall Wild Almond and Buddha Coconut trees. On the other side, behind the palms, is a whole grove of purple haze. Last year you had been delighted by trees on Maharshi Raman Road in the Lodhi Estate Area. Moulmein Rosewoods are probably the prettiest flowering trees in Delhi. The purple pearl like tiny flowers seem to be cascading down the trees. With every gentle gust of breeze, the flowers drizzle down in a dream like sequence.

The Purple Drizzle of Moulmein Rosewoods (Milletitia peguensis). The lady was nice enough to pose in her matching attire

Look at the purple paved ground - Wonderful Trees of Delhi

The feeling when you witness such sights is difficult to describe. It is of utmost disbelief and of wonder and of gratitude and of delirious swoon. You are not sure if you should just look or try to capture in the camera. The sprinklers are on and you have to time your photography before the swishing revolving jet of water drenches you and the equipment in actual drizzle! It is always difficult to tear yourselves from such sights. But there is lot more ground to cover and more surprises await.
A lucky sighting - will try to catch it early next year - Quickstick Tree (Gliricidia sepium)

Luminescent green leaves of Kapok (Ceiba pentandra) or White Silk Cotton and its fruit bursting into white floss!

Floss of Kapok tree

Hope to identify this tree soon!

Among the Moulmeins, stand a totally bare tree with last few lilac blooms and pod like fruits hanging by the sides. This is a first time seen Mexican Lilac also called Quickstick. The Kapok tree is awash in fresh green leaves with few fruits beginning to explode in snowlike fluff. The samadhi area on this northern side is lined with Earpod Wattle and Kadamb. The wet grass shimmers under the gentle sun. The breeze is cool. An extended family is wrapping up their mats after a yoga session. It is nice to see kids this early in parks. Just beyond, a neat looking tree stands that you have still not been able to identify.

You cut across the dry bed of the artificial lake behind Shanti Van to head towards the wonderland you experienced last year as the largest group of Barna trees bloomed in all their magnificent glory. Today, the trees are bare and buds about to break open. A solitary flower rising towards the sun sparkles under the blue skies, a harbinger of wonder this plot of land will soon turn into.

A Subabool (Leucaena leucocephala) blooming and that is a cluster of about 150 flowers!

United Colours of Pilkhan - just get awed!

You are making your way towards Shakti Sthal when you encounter the Ronjh lookalike flowers of Subabool. Taking the stone path you arrive at a grove of these magnificent Pilkhans. You seem to be here on the perfect day. The five pilkhans are all draped in unique colours as if in a time lapse shot. The tree on the right is delicious green. The next is bronze. The middle tree is has turned dark green. The next to it is still trying to decide if it wants to be bronze or green and in the ensuing dilly-dallying has turned yellowish. The last one is a brilliant copper, the colour that looks best on pilkhan and is so ephemeral that you can actually sense the colour changing with the ticking minutes. Under the brilliant canopy you rest for few minutes as if to delay the pleasure you are just about to experience.

Palash by any other name would be as beautiful

Palash is a Palash is a Palash

Look Mom I have turned into a Palash

On the other side of the pilkhans, is the first of the many Palash trees that will delight you today. Palash trees seemingly have different ways to surprise the viewer. Today the flowers you love keep dropping forming an orange carpet below the tree. A parrot hops on the flowers. You collect some flowers to caress the petals. You are in no mood to leave this spot.

The Quintessential Travel Dilemma

Oh that sweet smelling Kanak Champa (Pterospermum acerifolium)

A Kanak Champa tree blooms. The big unruly leaves always caked with some seemingly oxide dust try to hide those beautiful white flowers with leathery petals. The ground is covered with the brown leaves crunching under your feet. You pick a few flowers from the ground. They smell like a dream. A few days later they are still spreading fragrance in the car and at home.

The most significant ornithology discovery in the last 100 years in Delhi. Either the dude put on too much Fair and Handsome or there is some chemical locha. Now waiting for that Salim Ali Award - phone should be ringing any moment now.

This is a leucistic crow. Leucism is a moderate form of albinism 

The Goolar (Ficus racemosa) figs growing out of the trunk!

Harvesting in Shanti Van
Happy Baisakhi
Amma is not cooperating. She is not answering my questions. She first wants to know what her fayada is if I want to click her. She won't tell me what she is going to use these goolar figs for even as her partner is going through the motions of cleaning them. She even won't part with a single fig so you could see if it is carrying a fig wasp. Nearby Putronjiya fruits dry in the sun. Again no cooperation.
Few minutes ago the CISF constable from Bhuj talked about people coming in the morning and collecting the berries of the big Kamini trees we stand under talking. He says the berries are used for herbal shampoo. Earlier in the season people carried sackfuls of Semals to probably make colour. Two women come and pick the Palash flowers you had minutes ago put in a pile.
Later the man cleaning the lake by Shanti Van helps you locate the mahua grove. He says the mahua leaves are a remedy when afflicted by jaundice. You don't want to hear about something you haven't caught so far with your luck.
For the first time you are learning about the different uses of these trees here in Delhi!

Mom later mentions how figs were eaten as sweet fruits during her early days. Take that Amma. The harvested goolar fruits are sold to the pansaris who in turn sell it to customers who want to make ayurvedic medicines at home.

On the boundary of Shakti Sthal, an entire grove of Palash trees greet you resplendent in their fiery orange. This is the first cluster of Palash you are seeing this season. There is something about Palash that draws you to the blossoms. The tree, the trunk, the branches, the leaves; everything is crooked and unruly about it. But once the orange blooms appear, the tree is the most beautiful and desirable sight. And it is just not us humans. Birds and bees and squirrels too get sucked into absolute delirium. Sunbirds and mynahs and crows join in in the bedlam. But you have eyes only for these beautiful flowers. On the ground, fallen, they look like a congregation of monks kneeling in prayers.

The Ultimate Summer Afternoon Nap Spot

This is perhaps the most picturesque setting in this necropolis. An artificial lake has been created that gathers the rain runoff. Aquatic birds of different varieties swim, paddle and float. There are a few people out here today, some lovers and some just sit watching the glimmering water. Quacks ring out giving company to the general kooing and chirping in the air. A man naps under the shade of a pilkhan. The ducks or the geese do their duck walk around the napping figure. To the prone man, the discordant quacks seem like lullaby.

You go around the lake skirting Shakti Sthal to land at the northern bank. Under swaying bottle brush trees, you settle down for some soothing views giving company to two dogs. You try to befriend the dogs by offering them your biscuits that keep you going on these sojourns. They would have nothing of it. One dog lumbers away and the other settles down for a lap totally disinterested. Pigeons circle over the lake. In the distance, the orange palash and purple moulmeins present unseen before scenes. It is time to move. A crow takes off with the biscuit.

You will circle the lake. Here there are scores of Moulmeins cascading with these purple jewels. Walking through them is like walking in a drizzle without getting wet. You are wondering why you did not discover the joys of walking around this lake before.

There are more Palash blooms on the eastern side, this time juxtaposed with yellow blooms of Caribbean Trumpet trees. On the eastern side, the park grows progressively wilder. Maybe one day soon you will walk on the wild side. 

Those fragrant powder puffs of Siris Tree (Albizia lebbeck)

The surprises are not over yet. Away from the path that circumambulates the lake, just next to the copper pilkhan, a siris tree is in full bloom. These past years you have grown to love siris. This year you are discovering that siris blooms twice. First during the summers and then in the rains. The delicate fragrance has turned the surroundings into a pleasure garden. The puff like flowers with white and green stamens glow in the sun. This is a nature’s miracle. Only a few days back the Siris trees were bare with these golden pods hanging from the branches. In a matter of few days, the tree has been transformed into a lively green wonder with this heavenly scent.

One More Time

Shanti Van

You walk under the palash trees once more taking in eyefuls of the voluptuous sight. This is Ephemeral Delhi. These are the last few days before the flowers depart. The multi-hued pilkhans wave back at you; they seem to have changed colours in the last few hours. Jawaharlal Nehru’s samadhi, nestled in undulating green lawns with trees standing sentinels all around, reposes; perfectly still in the peaceful surroundings. You pay a silent homage. Reading his epic ‘Discovery of India’ has helped you discover what a remarkable man he was. The moulmeins continue to drizzle covering the ground with the purple dust. The walkers and yoga practitioners have left. It is warm now. The parking lot is empty. The birds’ chirping is muffled. A perfectly green pilkhan glows in the sun. A lone bright yellow Caribbean Trumpet blooms. Summer is here. Another season has arrived. Something goes empty inside. These are Summer Blues. Life goes on. It is time to head back home.   

Last dance with Mary Jane, one more time to kill the pain
I feel summer creepin' in and I'm tired of this town again
I'm tired of screwin' up, tired of going down
Tired of myself, tired of this town
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers

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Tuesday, 2 April 2019

Drenched in Colours – ‘Holi’ Day in Delhi

21st March 2019

This winter has been pleasantly cold and after several years it actually did feel like winters. Several bouts of heavy downpour and hail that surprised us in the months of January and February made winters more interesting. Though the skies remained overcast (mostly on weekends and that many chances of photography lost!) but all that rain washed the air and you breathed comparatively easier this time. The coolness continues till the end of March. It is as if Nature and people who actually decide on festival dates knew this beforehand and Holi this year came delayed by about twenty days.

Election dates have just been announced. Most politicians are holding off filing of their nominations after Holi. Apparently, it is not a good idea doing it before Holi. But your annual Holi tradition is always auspicious. You don’t have much of a plan except the first stop and the plan is to just take it as it comes. The kheer in the lunch is threatening to lull you into that sweet stupor. It is time to hit the road Jack.

The spanking new bridge at Kalindi Kunj and the equally spanking new magenta metro line running over it

After they have built over the farmland and forests, it is the turn of the river now

We are so happy to be in such idyllic surroundings and it shows

Happy days are here again - Don't lament the past when milk flowed in the rivers. Milk and cream is back in Yamuna

A new bridge has come over the Yamuna at Kalindi Kunj. With this rate, they are soon going to cover the river end to end with bridges depriving us of the delightful scenes of oxygen filled floating foam though you hope the aromatics will continue to make the air fragrant. The river does not disappoint. Huge blobs of white foam float over the waters. This is the preview of soon to be real dystopian state of India's rivers. You pause over the bridge which hopefully will help reduce the tailbacks during rush hours as Noida continues to grow at breakneck speed. The Okhla Bird Sanctuary is just beyond to the right. To show conclusively how much the birds love the milky Yamuna, the parapets of the bridge have been painted with species of brightly coloured birds chirping in ecstasy.

Republic Day Parade Daredevil Team practising

Every year, the traffic during Holi afternoons seem to increase. Delhi Traffic Police has set up several pickets and have considerable visibility across the city. But that does not deter hordes of motorcycles with multiple riders and after apparently playing Kapde Phaad Holi practicing for next year's Republic Day as the daredevil riders. You will keep bumping into police check-points all through the afternoon.

Silk-Cottons Burning Bright

Sam Miller in his delightful spiral adventures through Delhi, has mentioned about his hideout where purportedly there is an unseen section of Siri Fort. After several failed attempts to locate the pretty Mohammadwali Mosque, you were pretty sure you had seen most of Siri after finally locating it near the Children’s Mosque. Sam Miller writes about his house at the end of a cul-de-sac in Panchsheel Park. “And best of all, only twenty metres away, just inside the walls of Siri, is one of those magical patches of half-tended wilderness, hidden away, unknown to the rest of Delhi. At Sunset, I walk and run here, waving at or exchanging local gossip with other regulars, who, like me, want to keep this perfect place a secret.”

Sam Miller, your hideout is busted

Siri - The largest surviving gateway you have seen in Delhi's Third City

Lovely immaculate lawns run alongside the ruins of Siri Fort

It is time to search for Sam’s own ‘The Beach’. After making a U-turn below the flyover, dodging the cars at the entrance of the never visited Panchsheel Park Club where Holi celebrations are underway, you turn left where the sign says Shahpur Jat. Turning right you enter Panchsheel Park that is “much less of a transit camp than Vasant Vihar, and has an air of settled bourgeois sensibility”. The colony wears the look of a holi hangover afternoon. It does not take long to arrive at the surprise. An ASI board announces this is a protected site. Just ahead looms the largest gateway you have ever seen in Siri area. This is some secret and you don’t blame Sam and his neighbours for being in love with this and trying to keep it a secret.

The gate receiving Holi splash

This is a total surprise. All you expected were a few ruins. But here there is a total section of the fort walls with beautifully tended lawns running alongside. For the first time, you are actually looking at a surviving gate. Huge bastions, about 15 wide walls with a passage running through them and then this enormous 30 feet high gate and you finally get an idea how big Khilji city’s fortification was. The big gateway is protected with a smaller gate at standard right angles that thwarts any attempt by elephants or ramrods to break down the main gate. The Mongols never succeeded in breaching it. But what Mongols could not, Sher Shah Suri did. He used the material to build himself the Sixth City of Delhi.

Our friends under the influence of Holi!

Zombied and colour drenched in the throes of standard Holi beverages are several bunches of kids in the park. You yourself are in an ecstatic state and you need to talk to someone as you blurt out the story of Delhi’s Third City and how the Decapitator Khilji killed thousands of Mongols and erected his city over the heads of the poor belligerents to the stupored audience. Another man after applying colour and giving you a Delhi hug, confirms that yes a foreigner comes here with his family and who surprisingly speaks Hindi!

Sam, rest assured, the secret is safe with me.

The Original Art District of Shahpur Jat

There is another surprise in this Asiad Village area. You leave meandering through the Shahpur Jat lanes. You remember coming few summers ago looking at the graffiti on the walls. This village was the original art district. Now all the action has shifted to the Blooming Walls of Lodhi Colony. Most of the old art compositions are gone. You see a few new ones. As you drive closer to the Asiad Village Tower area, you seem to hit a rush hour. Cars and revellers jam the road up ahead. Apparently, another holi celebration is going on in the lawns to the right. Young people, some walking, others in their swanky automobiles are trying to make their way to the celebration. Scores of traffic cops are trying to put some order in the melee. So this is how the rich kids celebrate Holi! Well, the other surprise will have to wait for some other time.

Finally South Ex is reclaimed from years of construction of the underground section of Pink Line Metro

The Ring Road turning into a concrete canyon in the name of development - East Kidwai Nagar

It is time to move on. The South Ex area is finally free of all construction. But don't be mistaken. They might start digging tomorrow to lay some sewer line. Metro’s pink line passes beneath. It is past two now. Metro would have started its operations by now. On the road, the low-floor DTC buses hiss by. The stores on either side too have received attention. You do not recognise any of these. The older ones are gone replaced with even more glitzy fronts brandishing brands you will never have any need for. Just ahead, on the right the horror story of the redevelopment of Kidwai Nagar towers over you. The low-rise government flats have been replaced by box like concrete structures. This is the new ugly face of Delhi and the greed of its administrators.

The wondrous White Constellation of Chamrod flowers (Ehretia laevis) a Delhi native tree
Devastation Ahoy!
Trees Replaced with Skyscrapers

You climb the AIIMS loop with blooming Chamrods and Yellow Bells on the left. Coming down on Sri Aurobindo Marg and you realise the cruel joke the morons are playing on you. On the walls of the ugly multi-storeyed flats they have painted images of birds and trees. This is height of shamelessness.

These Shameless Morons are Unbelievable

Step 1 – Tear down all the trees

Step 2 – Contruct those ugly structures

Step 3 – Paint images of Birds and Trees on the Walls

Step 4 – All environmental damage reversed

Everyone is Happy!

East Kidwai Nagar, New Delhi

You need to calm down. The flowers always put you in good mood. Taking the Tughlaq Road as it meets Akbar Road brings you to the annual spectacle put up by the nice folks of NDMC. Not all government departments are filled with morons.

An excellent job by NDMC - a colour drenched symphony playing out at the roundabout of Tughlaq and Akbar Roads called the Matthew Circle

The Matthew Circle, named after a British General who lived nearby, is perhaps the most ornamented roundabout out of the about 50 odd in New Delhi area. Petunia, Antirrhinum, Dianthus, Pansy, Larkspur, Coreopsis all combine to create a colour drenched symphony playing a fun and passion filled Song of Spring. A Times of India drone photo reveals the interesting layout as the colours and flowers synchronise themselves into a slowly spinning cycle wheel. Move ever so slowly, we want the Spring to stay here.

Love these fallen yellow Neem leaves

Teen Murti is always a beautiful sight

Not sure if the houses will be pulled down; and that will be the end of Innocence Years

You are making your way towards Teen Murti. You are fearing the worst. The word is that the house of your childhood has been demolished; maybe by the same havoc wreaking morons of Kidwai and Netaji and Sarojini Nagar. At the Traffic Police Lines, all is quiet. Your part of houses have been locked up but the houses still stand. Rising above the row of houses is the Shisham tree that you practically grew around and under with. The shisham was a buddy who protected you when your little brother chased you with the mosquito net stick and under which a cornucopia of activities happened – the bandar wala, the bhalu wala, the sapera entertained you; the sabziwala on his bicycle set up his shop for few minutes on his morning vending round. Now there are only tricycle sabziwalas. The baltiwala would set his shop once a season repairing our leaking metal buckets and replacing the rusted base. The ruiwala would hang his tantiya from the branch and go twing twing turning the lumps of cotton of our razai and gaddey into fresh white fluffy cotton again. The thathera would set up his dhonkni by digging a hole in the ground and light up a fire to heat the utensils. A dash of tin and the utensils will again turn bright and shiny after the kaleu.

You look across the street towards the boundary walls of President’s Estate. You can see yourself and all your friends playing cricket between the two peepal trees. The Khirni tree still stands. The shahtoot tree with its fruit green and so sweet has been apparently lost in the Traffic Police Lines Compound. The building looks too prim and whitewashed. Palika Vihar, next door, looks desolate and pretty run-down.

Moving on Mother Teresa Marg towards Talkatora Garden

The sun is playing hide and seek. You are not sure how long the light will hold on. Who knows the winter still has a surprise waiting. Talkatora Gardens are spectacular this year after some experimentation by NDMC. While the Matthew Circle delights with its circular James Bondesque gun barrel design through which Bond quickly turns and shoots, Talkatora is resplendent with almost a kilometre long multilevel straight carpet look on both sides of the water channel. Five shades of hybrid petunia combine with pansy and dwarf salvia to provide a visual feast.  

This has been the Spring of Semal! Never seen them this glorious

There were reports of some glorious Silk-Cottons on Mandir Marg too. This has been the Spring of Semals. You don’t remember seeing them this happy and red and so bountiful in the last few years. Flamingos in Okhla Bird Sanctuary and now Semals – is Delhi doing something right; you are not sure but you will grab such hopefully not sporadic moments.

The Sun has again disappeared behind clouds and the almost bare Semals seem to have momentarily paused smiling.

Birla Mandir on Mandir Marg - One of these days you will go inside!
After Chittaranjan Park, seeing this second Kali Bari in Delhi

Buddhist Temple at Mandir Marg

Mandir Marg is appropriately named. The place is filled with places of worship end to end - Buddhist Temple, Hindu Temples, Churches, Gurudwaras. You don’t remember ever stepping inside Birla Temple. Maybe you will come back one of these days just to meet the photographers Sam Miller met during his spiral adventures.

Gole Market undergoing renovation for some years now


At Gole Market the Royal Store seems to have closed down where Dad brought us for buying clothes. The market itself is still boarded up for renovation but you don’t see any ongoing activity inside. Today it is peaceful around here. On any other day these roads turn into absolute mayhem. Turning into Bhai Vir Singh Marg, it is apparent Delhi has changed. The Panchkuian Furniture Market once in Paharganj and mostly operating out of the street has changed addresses. After coming of Metro on RK Ashram Marg, they were promised a new location. You never really thought the new premises will be this swank!

Blooms of Buddha's Coconut tree (Pterygota alata) is one of Delhi's tallest trees - on Bishambar Das Marg

Bishambar Das Marg, beyond Gol Dak Khana is the only pure avenue of Buddha’s Coconut Trees, now with only few surviving. Last time you were here, you can swear there were more trees here. On one side boards have gone up as the construction spree continues to build even more houses for our ‘Honourable MPs’. You just can’t figure how much our tax money these people can guzzle. You don’t give few more years to these poor giants. Up high above, the blooms are darkened against the sun. And like the last time, the armed guard from the opposite side comes to enquire about your intentions. Guards on Delhi roads and guards in ASI sites just won’t leave you alone. The bell-shaped flower-cups with no petals apparently are purple veined. You will have to figure out some way to get hold of them in your hands!

National Police Memorial at Chanakya Puri

The National Police Memorial is surprisingly good

Several new places of interest have come up in Delhi in the last few months. You have already seen the National Police Memorial in Chanakya Puri. On Janpath, new buildings in New Delhi are giving you a pleasant surprise. First it was the National Police Memorial in Chanakya Puri. You never imagined something associated with Police could be so well thought out and perfectly curated.

There is another surprise just across the street from your weekend home. The red sandstone building is embellished with Buddhist architectural influences. There is a Chaitya Arch. Sanchi toran towers over the entrance. Outside Dr Ambedkar stands high on a pedestal. On the corner, Ashok’s capital of Four Lions and India’s National Emblem rises over a high pillar. This is the Dr. Ambedkar International Centre on Janpath.

What incredible interiors - Dr Ambedkar International Centre on Janpath
The big surprise waits inside. Under a huge domed atrium, the Dalit Icon poses on a chair reminiscent of Lincoln statue in Washington. The dome is supposed to be the largest in Delhi with 24 spikes and covered with translucent sheet. Two vertical natural gardens flank the statue designed by Ram Sutar. The designers have succeeded in creating a tranquil space inside and you almost feel like you have entered a Stup.

Watching life go by

You are heading to the Windsor Place. The newspapers have reported 
that Delhi has got its tallest fountain here. It is 6 pm and there is no sign of a giant spurting fountain. Some disinterested people are lolling around on the lawns under the clear influence of Holi beverages. For now, the tallest feature is the glass Meridian Hotel on the left. Over the years you have still not figured how it managed to build itself here. Maybe it is 7 pm. You tell yourself. You will wait at your favourite boulevard. Parking on the shoulder of Rajpath you buy yourself an ice-cream and leaning against the car you watch the scenes unfold. The Sun has few minutes before it sinks behind the Raisina Hill. Families picnic on the lawns; people oblivious to the vistas bury their heads into their handheld screens after clicking their selfies. The monkey wala bhai with mongrel like monkey offers to click your photo with the two monkeys on your shoulders. You ask him to maybe feed them first. Their brethren terrorizing the babus up there look fed on gourmet.

The Haryana Boys styling

A few Haryanvi guys have stopped on their Bullets. They pose with their bikes. The bikes are emblazoned with ‘Raavan’, ‘Peer Baba’, image of Bhagat Singh and Sardarji on license plate. You offer to click few photos. You have an hour before the water fountain bursts into life. The helmetless Haryanvis roar off on their bikes after deciding which route won’t have traffic cops. You promise to email the photos. The South Block is silhouetted against the orange sun. Birds are on their final flypasts of the evening. It is time to check on the fountain. Always difficult to tear yourself from these views. You will be back a little later.

The Multicoloured Fountain at Andhra Bhawan Roundabout

Celebrating the under construction new capital of Andhra Pradesh. Though you don't like the idea of all that concrete in such agri rich geography of India

Andhra Bhawan & Telangan Bhawan - happy to see them peacefully co-existing and where you have been enjoying the Thali for some years now

No sign of the fountain. Now you want to see a fountain – any fountain. You are at the roundabout of Ashok Road and Man Singh Road opposite Andhra Bhawan where you have recently discovered the joys of a combustible rasam accompanied thali. This is a shorter fountain than the much-vaunted non-existent fountain. And it is coloured and the colours are changing every few moments. You ask the man who is the in-charge of this and few others fountains in the vicinity about the whereabouts of the missing fountain. The motor got burnt. He informs as his breath heavy with the beverages befitting the festival Holi hangs in the cool air. What! The fountain’s motor got burnt? Yes, they will fix it soon. Come back to check. And you thought it was only your motor at home from all the heavy duty pulling of water gets burnt. It is dark now. The real light show would have started.

Watch captivated as the LED lights dance through the pillars of the colonnaded balconies - What a Sight!

You drive back on Raisina Road to emerge on Vijay Chowk. There is no one here tonight. You have the whole vista for yourself. They are putting up this show just for you. Last time you were here on Republic Day night, they had the Rashtrapati Bhawan and the associated buildings bathed in these newly installed LED lights. The Dynamic Lighting would flash intermittently. But tonight since its Holi, the multi-hued lighting seem to be rippling through the colonnaded balconies and the bell towers almost continuously. It doesn’t matter how many times you have seen this. Every time it leaves you transfixed. You set the camera on the parapet of the fountain tank and try to capture these moments of joy. The scenes are of frolicking revellers smearing each other with colours in a passionate celebration of Holi.

Love doing this with the 83X Nikon P900

The camera fighting to focus in the dark brings up this bokeh effect

You turn around just in time to see the Full Moon or Poornima of Falgun rising in to the sky in all its glory. For a moment, all goes quiet. In the middle of New Delhi, it seems you are all alone with the moon. And in this instant, you again fall in love with the city, with the festival and just the fact that you are here witnessing all this goodness around.

The India ASEAN Friendship Park on Tughlaq Crescent

Metro stations donning colours of their sponsors

Turning India Green - yeah right!

Laid back government babu colonies have turned into glitzy office and shopping blocks

You will make your way back home the same way. You want to see how Delhi’s nightscape is changing with all the glitz replacing the old way of life. In the dark, the fragrance of petunias of Matthew Circle wafts through the cool spring air. Driving past the India-ASEAN Friendship Park at Tughlaq Crescent which has some majestic Arjun trees, you are back at INA. Just beyond the Oriental Insurance branded INA Metro Station, the darkness has covered the ugly construction of East Kidwai Nagar. The entrance lit in lattice pattern, exhorts to make “India Green”. They are setting a great example themselves. On the Ring Road, newly minted shopping arcades and office blocks line up. And you thought they were residential complexes for middle-class government workers. It will be really interesting to know the ownerships of these offices and shops.

South Ex Redux
Ansal Plaza, Delhi's first mall, is buzzing again
South Delhi is finally connected to the Metro network but will they give up their cars?

South Extension is finally bump-free. The trees are gone and even more bigger upscale stores eye-ball each other across the street. This is definitely not the South Ex of Snowhite of long ago. Ansal Plaza, Delhi’s first mall after years of closure, is finally humming with life again. You are noticing the Okhla Barrage in the night for the first time. It seems the metro stations and all other buildings have taken inspiration from Vijay Chowk. The barrage twinkles and looks serene tonight. Just beyond, the city of Noida furthers undergoes transformation. From a few low-rise colonies, now Noida is witnessing break-neck construction spree as the skyscrapers spurt here on the banks of Yamuna and beyond. The metro expands its footprints as the Magenta line whisks you away to South Delhi without the longer detour via Rajeev Chowk.

Kalindi Kunj Barrage with its new lighting. Now only if they clean the water below

The New Face of Noida

The day comes to an end. So what started with little planning and more spontaneity turned into quite a ride. This is a snapshot of the city that you love – the roads, the season, the trees and flowers, the people, the new things, the old things, the childhood, the change, the monuments, the bad, the getting better, the memories. We will continue to see each other. Our love affair is for forever.


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