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Those unmistakable signs of Spring

I am in Shanghai for a week. Today will be particularly chilly, the murky skies and the freezing cold breeze won’t make things any better. I stare down my 10th floor hotel window and all I see is a concrete jungle. Far away, the clothes strung in the balcony of an apartment are fluttering vigorously, giving me hints about how ferocious the wind outside is. The long patch of road visible from my window is burnished. It is wet. Same goes for sole apartment terrace I can see in a distance – it probably rained last night. I woke up feeling sick of the artificial warmth of my room – the hot, dry air emanating from the hotel air conditioner parches every single inch of me. I’ve just shut the air-conditioning and left the windows of my hotel room ajar. The cool breeze is now gently escaping in, fighting with the synthetic warmth which wasn’t even meant to be here. Beethoven’s 6th string quartet hasn’t ever captured my somber mood better (the final movement of the quartet reads: La Malinconia: Adagio: Alegretto Quasi Allegro).

It is still winters in Shanghai. The lifeless, leafless trees stand there braving the scorn of winter. They could have been plastic. Their barks show interesting random patterns in brown black and white; looking almost like hide of some exotic animal.

I close my eyes and draw the cold air in. I am reminded of Bangalore. When I left, the weather there was exhibiting unmistakable signs of spring and the plant life was reacting welcomingly to it. Nothing captures essence of arrival of spring like final movement of Vivaldi’s spring. The pictures below are my attempts to portray days just before spring; albeit through a visual medium.

Even the fauna growing in nondescript, dusty edges of the road, shows the audacity to beckon spring. I found the shape of leaves of this plant, a little unusual – as a kid this is exactly how I was taught to draw flowers in my drawing classes. Those plants I drew in kindergarten weren’t entirely imaginary after all (the petals I drew turned out to be leaves in real life). Romantic innuendos: aren’t all of them (leaves) shaped like hearts!? If it were 14th Feb today, I would have just caused a rush amongst florists to weed off roadsides…

If this is what those little shrubs display, the trees ought to do something grander. Sure enough, they are sprouting fresh leaves. There are trees whose entire canopy is bedecked with tender, glistening leaflets. They look yellow or rust colored. These are not the yellows or rust of fall; these are colors of pristine leaves greeting spring.

This tree will probably seem familiar. It is barely a yard away from its cousin that blossomed just 3 months back. Like its elder brother, this tree too is now in full bloom.

Occasionally, you’ll come across these trees whose enormous branches would be bejeweled, studded with countless bright yellow or pink flowers (neither of which is my favorite color, but when you see garish clusters of these flowers, you forget that for a moment); celebrating spring....

I am enjoying myself in Shanghai yet a part of me longs to be back where spring is.

posted: 18.2.04

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