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Delhiwale: The Connaught Place nest

Apr 11, 2024 04:03 PM IST

A bird's nest in a tree at Connaught Place offers a rare city spectacle amidst the bustling market vendors.

Intro: A parallel world in an iconic market

Delhiwale: The Connaught Place nest
Delhiwale: The Connaught Place nest

This is a tree. This tree has a nest. This nest has a bird.

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Nothing extraordinary about the sight, if this were some leafy Delhi neighbourhood. But it is the very heart of our smoggy megapolis—a small plaza in commercial Connaught Place, right outside the Palika Bazar.

The peepal has shed almost all its leaves. The clearly visible nest is nestled towards the top of the naked tree, see left photo. The nest overlooks the hulky Jeevan Bharti building. The bird cannot be seen in full, but at times she moves about in the nest, flashing something of her black figure.

The shoppers underneath the tree are unaware of the bird. One anyway comes across enough birds in this megapolis rich with 234 bird species—the pet masakalis flying over the Old Delhi roofs, pesky pigeons harassing the apartment dwellers in the suburban housing towers, and then there are the everyday crows and parrots. But to spot a chiriya in her nest offers a rare city spectacle. The plaza’s evening gentry though is too distracted by the surrounding commerce. The place is packed with vendors hawking ice cream, refrigerated cold water, friendship bands, ladies handbags, travelling handbags, bhelpuri, sun glasses, shoe shining service, ear cleaning service, weight measuring service, socks, chai, dal chaat, flutes, mobile phone covers, papad, bhutta, ear danglers… a young man is shouting hoarsely, “get a tattoo, get a tattoo.”

The plaza has six trees. Connaught Place itself has very many trees—the area was earlier a babool forest. Glancing up towards the nest, bhelpuri vendor Ashok Tomar remarks that he recently started to notice the bird. “That’s a baaz (hawk)… no, a cheel (eagle).” The bird lands into this nest only in the evening, he says, adding that she must have built it to keep her eggs. Ashok points out that “a bird usually makes her ghosla on an intersection of branches to ensure a firm grip on the tree.” Explaining the reason behind his confident insights into avian matters, he remarks that he grew up surrounded by trees in his zila Aligarh village.

Suddenly the bird wildly flaps her wings. For a fleeting moment, the feathers show up in all their majesty, see right photo.

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