I’ve been a city girl all my life but the heart and body have lived outdoors, enjoying the textures of their geography, whether dry desert, humid coast or landlocked elevation. There’s much natural beauty even in swarming cities with its bodies, concrete and sewage. The city that currently homes me is a mix of the old and new both in natural life and man-made structures. The last 8 odd years in Pune have been perhaps much more expansive in terms of time spent getting to know the flora and fauna that have been here even before the city grew over it. Trees have been fascinating in particular for their seeming silence and slow presence.
I’m no botanist and the thought of memorizing long botanical names is tiring and perhaps unnecessary for an ordinary person. I do graze on them though as I dig around to know what others have known before me but its a mere curiosity. Far more intimate is the connection between them and my short life as a singular of my species. I’ve seen many of them through their seasons and wait for their blossoming. Often, I travel a fair distance just to meet one particular brown trunk as though I was going to visit a friend. They feature regularly in notes to myself, poems and contemplation.
This summer, I chased gulmohars and their crimson flares. I waited for September for these gorgeous Indian Cork Tree flowers. These trees are tall and the flowers dangle like earrings high up. The kannada name for them is evocative, aakasha mallige which could be translated as jasmine of the skies. There’s a video of one of the large trees swaying in the wind from a couple of years ago here. The flowers are slender and smell divine. Yesterday, I gathered a few fallen flowers while out on a late morning walk. They came home with me and now sit in a tiny ceramic container filling my room with their scent.
The day began with an intense class at 6am like most days and went on to include some interesting work and conversations. And cake, freshly baked by a colleague and mentor. It was demolished in a matter of minutes by the crew at work. Film making is always fascinating to watch and today was no exception. Day’s end has me smiling, still on a high of a day well lived, work done well. And of course, a green hillside outside the large windows meant I got to feast my eyes on a lushness anytime I wanted.