Inedible dates

08.08.14: I convinced my husband to take me to the beach for a walk on a Friday morning… he agreed reluctantly with a condition that it will be only for half an hour & if it is very hot we will leave. 5:45 am & at 30+ Celsius we headed to beach. There were quite a few people in the beach already. A lovely couple, who had to spring out when the sprinkler suddenly came on…some fully clothed women enjoying a dip.. speed boats & ski boats dotting the water. The air was fresh & I could smell the ocean.

The beach is lined with scores of date trees; almost all of them loaded/pregnant with bunches & bunches of dates but sadly it is not edible. There was a solo tree with red dates. Not again! Red & me get into trouble, was my thought.

Luckily we stayed longer than half an hour thanks to the stray cats having bath in the sprinkler that had charmed my husband & sadly I missed the sight!! Meanwhile, red did not bring any bad luck to me after all.

I was trying to get pictures of the inedible dates which hung in bunches as well as to get shots of some birds like sparrow, etc… I already have plenty of pictures of the dates but somehow it always attracts me. This time it was a different thing. There were some yellow dates, smooth as a baby’s butt, smiling in-between the hundreds of green, cutely shaped, & wall-paper dates…it seemed like the dates were teasing me & inviting me to try them. Out of curiosity I plucked two yellow dates covered with plenty of dust. Against all the odds, I pop it into my mouth after cleaning with tissue. Wow! It tasted so yum… better than the box of dates I had picked up from the super market the previous day. It brought a smile to me, I thought it’s the other side of the midnight & every rule has an exception. Thought I would give one to my husband to check his reaction.

Then the thought of smiling yellow dates brought the memories of those unlucky children & the hundreds of children who never grow to be normal, robbed of their childhood due to so many reasons like poverty, human trafficking, raping, etc. so sad indeed.

It also remind me that even though the world might see one too many cruel things happening, there will always be some good left in the world no matter what.

I tried the red date too, but it was bland, slightly hard & simply did not taste good. Even though I did not get any lesson, I still thanked God almighty for teaching me so many things in my life in such short period. But colour red has something to do with everything around… perhaps because each & every human being has the invisible red colour within making it the prime colour of creation!!

Tri-colour tropical beauty in the desert of Kuwait…

The other day when I saw the creeper for the first time I could not believe my eyes… Wow…growing in Kuwait in all its tropical glory? There she was swaying happily, head held high, beaming with flowers and bees buzzing around. Nostalgic memories of childhood flooded back, elevating my mood for the day.  Back home we called it Beli-poo (hedge or fence flower) because that’s what we used it for. This pretty mildly fragrant (woody smell) with pretty long soft flexible tubular stem helped us to make garland or braid without thread. So we braided it together as crown, & played king & queen games. It’s hard to pinpoint the colour of the flower. Even though the bud often looks reddish, when the flower blooms in the evening it is white (almost) with very light subtle tinges of pink that gradually turns pink in the morning. It then graduates to a reddish pink by evening & stays the same till it dries. So we could be white or red or pink or colourful royalities!! It blooms from February to May & again from August to November. The creeper bears flowers every day during the season & the mature flowers stays for few days. So in the bargain it creates an unusually spectacular sight of three generations swaying together. The drooping bunch with rare tri-colour flowers at the same time is a sight to cherish. Bees & butterflies are attracted to these flowers.

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Native to tropical Asia, this ligneous creeper called Quisqualis Indica/Combretum indicum, Madhu Malati in Sanskrit,Akash Mallige in Kannada (akash meanins sky), Radha Manoharam in Telugu (sounds so very romantic), Chinese honeysuckle, Rangoon creeper, is a sturdy, vigorously growing, profusely flowering, perennial climber that practically does not need any maintenance. (Quisqualis in Latin means who or what!!). The leaves are elliptical with an acuminate tip & a rounded base. It supposed to bear ellipsoidal fruit with five prominent wings which tastes like almonds when mature. However, I don’t really remember seeing fruits though!! In a mature creeper, the stem becomes woody & thorns appear. Once established, it is the boss, sky seems to be the limit for Akash Mallige’s growth & with proper sunlight & enough water, it flowers profusely in big bunches of 15-30 flowers. (Can there be a better proof than its growth in Kuwait??). In between the season, the creeper sheds most of its leaves as if sad for not having flowers. Then starts to spring back with reddish leaves as if it is beaming in preparation for the motherhood!! Fast catching up as an ornamental creeper, you can train the creeper as you like & it can be grown in the pot too…

This Royal beauty has medicinal value too. I have heard that: decoctions of the root, seed or fruit can be used as antihelmintic to expel parasitic worms such as roundworm & pinworm or for alleviating diarrhea. It is said to be toxic to the parasite & kills it in the digestive tract. Fruit decoction can also be used for gargling & are also used to combat nephritis (inflammation of kidneys). Leaves are used to relieve pain caused by fever. The roots are used to treat rheumatism.

It is said that ”A thing of beauty is a joy forever!” No picture can do justice to a thing of beauty, as we see it in all its glory… nor does a picture satisfy the longing for seeing it for real. In my enchanted state, I have made humble attempts to capture the lovely sight as best as I can….. hope they please your eyes as they did mine!

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Magic of Rain, Wind & Sunshine : Beauty explosion!

After living in Kuwait for more than a quarter century, spring of 2014 is the first time I have seen a huge explosion of colours in February/March. The natural beauty par excellence created by Mother Nature around the city was just awesome, a refreshing sight to sore eyes. Al-Arfaj (Rhanterium epapposum) Kuwaiti national flower with other beauties sprang out everywhere between the tiles, gap in the wall, wherever there was little life support… Even though from far it just looked yellow, it had different types like single petal, multi-petal, light yellow, dark yellow, etc. There were native plum red flower looking as if made out of paper, mauve & yellow flowers.. mauve …. large leaved wild mustard plants … There were thorny plant with little mauve flowers spreading out.. little white flowers.. grass.. loads of wild plants.. Perhaps medicinal.. edible… There were supposed to be desert lavenders which I never had the privilege to witness…

Day after day going to work & on the way back it lifted my spirit, skipped a heartbeat & I never had enough of it. They had their own rooting selection too… if the plum red dominated the middle partition of the highway; yellow flowers dominated the sides of the road looking sexy specked all over the grass. Particularly eye catching was opposite to MEW Tower, little flowers beaming with pride, looking beautiful, natural & happy without any direct human intervention!!

It looked as if they are smiling at you & in front of the magnetism/charm of the little wild flowers, rows & rows of the planted large colourful flowers dwarfed/dulled. With that came the battalion of butterflies, bees & moths. Most of the butterflies are the same colour as the sand.. some had little flashes of bright colours. The flowers looked unusually beautiful because of its sandy background. Wonder if next year the flowers will multiply with ample supply of seeds or simply vanishes?

Suddenly bird population & their happy chirping seem to be increased. With ample supply of Al-Arfaj, I saw a sparrow nest built of fresh plants… wish I could see them at work.. bugs scurried along.. Mr. Camel smiled at me too.. Its happy time… I wonder what made the flowers bloom in such large number. Whatever it is, it was an amazing experience, felt like as if it was created especially for me!!

Visiting the valley of flowers is my long desired passion & looking at the flowers around I thought this might be the preview/trailer of Mother Nature’s magic. It’s hard to comprehend how a multimillion times explosion of different coloured flowers would look like? Perhaps it would be like sighting the God… a pilgrimage I have to postpone to summer of 2015 as I have a strong feeling that drinking ocean of beauty, I am going to have heart attack & die!!

Also first time I saw the cousin of date & coconut, a lovely bunch of palm flower in ivory shade. And I got lucky when I tried to get a picture there was this proper dark gray bee with a black dot sucking the nectar. Gray bee!!!

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