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Wild buzz:Ruby Pendants for the blue skies

chandigarh Updated: Mar 07, 2015 23:43 IST


CAPTION: Nature's earring: A Vernal hanging parrot on Silk cotton flowers.KAYZAD D. KASAD

Imagine a necklace of rubies breaking and the gems strewn upon a glassy floor, each revelling in splendid isolation. Or, look upon the random designs and sprinkles of dominant vermilion that Holi has left in its wake, the coloured powders having somehow escaped the applying hands and daubed faces and fallen at the feet as unwanted residues. If you let your imagination extend and travel now into the depth of jungles, you will appreciate the eye-candy that nature offers at this time of the year.


CAPTION: A Silk cotton tree blooms in the jungle.VIKRAM JIT SINGH

In the Shivalik hills, where I take long rambles, the drab jungle slopes tingle with the first flush of spring's warmth and twinkle with the red blooms of the Silk cotton or semul tree. The blooms seem crafted by nature to dangle as ruby pendants for the blue skies. I picked up one of these blooms and slid my nostrils deep into it as I walked the hillsides. The bloom has a sweet, esoteric fragrance, which I quite cannot put a description to. A kind of sweetness.....like a dream, whose fragments I struggle to put together the next morning, and wonder how I had ever come to own that dream. Part of that bloom and the tree's soul slips into me in that simple act of yearning to drink in the fragrance, and becomes me. Just as any food or drink that we take becomes us.

The Silk cotton is blooming vividly along tricity streets, too. But while the municipality brooms away the blooms in haste as urban wastes, in the jungle, sambars party under the tree as they relish the sweet, strewn blooms.

Silk cotton blooms will pave the way a few weeks later to the unfolding of the Flame of the Forest or Dhak/Palash tree. Unlike the Silk cotton, which towers over the jungle like a palace sentinel, Flame of Forest trees often grow in low, sociable flocks. The latter will bear passionate, smouldering, fiery blooms that augur the inferno of summer. Little wonder then that few Indians, despite the hypnotic influence of Western culture, prefer to name their daughters, April, May or June!


India's diverse cultures bestow many a distinction on the Palash. A particular richness of association binds this 'tree on fire' with Nobel laureate, Rabindranath Tagore, and Santiniketan where he lived. Col Bimal Sar Kar (retd), a plant, butterfly, bird and literature enthusiast, has been working for the last two years to translate those of Tagore's 1,800 songs which bear references to 83 different plants. Col. Sar Kar requested Maj Gen SK Sen, a retired director of the Army Postal Service, to translate a Tagore song whose muse is the vivid eruptions of Palash and Champa.


CAPTION: A Rose-ringed parakeet relishes Flame of Forest blooms.PHOTO: Indrasish Guha

Here is that Tagore song: "A little touch I feel, a few words I hear, With that I write my spring song in my mind. Some ecstasy of Palash, mixed with some of Champa. With these I spin a web of music, colour and savour, Whatever little comes by me between fleeting moments. Paints a dream in a corner of my startled mind. What little goes afar, sets my thoughts trembling in music. With that I spend my time counting the anklet beats."


Drones have gained as much notoriety as their service to 'good' causes. The latest is the UT Forest department's requisition of a drone on March 4 to spot and trap a supposedly dangerous and wily leopard clan on the prowl in peripheral jungles. The clan has not attacked a single human.

A parallel use of drones by wildlife tourists in South Africa attracted censure. In an emailed statement to this writer, Laura Mukwevho, a spokesperson for South African National Parks (SANParks), said it was illegal for individuals to fly "unmanned aerial vehicles either for game viewing, filming, photography or any other purpose during their visit in SANParks. This practice is illegal as SANParks are legislated protected areas with restricted airspace. We have had two incidents reported by tourists in the Kruger NP of people flying such aircraft illegally, getting out of vehicles in undesignated areas, interfering in sightings; disturbing and stalking animals; only to feign innocence upon questioning. We would like to inform such people and other drone users that, should they be found flying them in the Park at any time, they will be arrested and equipment seized. These incidents can negatively impact on the well-being of animals and experience of other visitors."

Email of the writer: vjswild1@gmail.com