FACE to FACE with the largest bunch of flower I have ever seen….

It was few years ago that I first I heard about the Jade Vine, from the legume/bean family & its multinational cousins. I learnt this from my plant guru, the late Dr Achaiah, a walking encyclopedia. I was tagging along with him once so that I could fetch some wild mushrooms. Looking at the bunches of maroon outer & little red flowers hanging around the mango tree, I said these are lovely & looks like the ornamental pieces of a chandeliers. I came up with a suggestion… may be you should make a structure in different sized circles to support the vines to create a natural chandelier & we all can sit under it & drink coffee… he said your wish is not my command you don’t eat my head run along now!!

We both always agreed to disagree on everything yet I followed him ignorant, enthusiastic & eager to learn & he was glad someone was willing to learn… so he explained to me about the four different vines among the many around their mansion.

jade flower india coorg kuhsalnagar20140831_153959

The second one he told me about also with maroon outer & yellow flowers but with a different look altogether. It had no flower but I knew what he was talking as many of my relatives had it in their homes. Both had their own beauty & the first one is pretty simple like a homeless person goes unnoticed most of the time (figure 1). The second one little more attractive & makes its presence felt once a while (will post the picture when available). I was trying to impress with him with my knowledge of flowers quoting the silver oaks & the orange bunch flower we see at Mysore university campus & then told about the burgundy sausage tree flower. He said that’s all on trees & I am talking about the vine.

Finally when I saw the other two little vines supposed to be floriferous from pea family. They were growing on a pillar, and were actually imported costing a small fortune….   A flower which is going to look like the flower of pea.. & wondered if it is really worth it? They were the Jade vine & Red Jade vine (aka scarlet jade vine & New Guinea creeper) scientifically known as Strongylodon macrobotrys & Mucuna bennettii respectively. Then I mentioned the purple Wisteria flower hanging like grape bunches, also from pea family, which I saw in Niagara Falls the sight of which is enchanting in some Hollywood movies & serials. All the vines are evergreen.

jade flower india coorg kuhsalnagarjade flower india coorg kuhsalnagarjade flower india coorg kuhsalnagar

After that first time I saw these flowes, on every subsequent visit to Ashok’s place, I searched for the flowers in vain & finally when I came across the pitcher flower in the nearby pot, wondered what the jade vine would really show case? Finally August… 2014 I got lucky, after a long wait met the fully bloomed Red Jade flowers & the buds of Jade vine.

The RED JADE, she was a beauty in her own rights….. she mesmerized & practically forced me to stand motionless & admire her. Even the pouring rain & cloudy weather could not dampen her spirit & beauty. She was already a month old & in full bloom, a cascading cluster of brilliant red-orange pendulous flowers which looked as if someone had meticulously chained them together to form a raceme…. I have never seen such perfect wholesale orange colour in my life other than the saris… Individual translucent flowers are clawed & the formation looks somewhere between flame of the forest & its cousins coral tree & panivala flower. Her perfect texture with absolutely no blemish on her celluloid boat shaped body which almost gives the feeling it’s not natural & plastic(ky). My husband said it reminded him of the cock’s head & its beak & for me it reminded the beak of a parrot.

jade flower india coorg kuhsalnagar jade flower india coorg kuhsalnagarjade flower india coorg kuhsalnagar

It is said to be from New Guinea, I nick named her the middle class beautify, who is here to showcase her beauty & strength… the influence she can have on society!! The striking bright red-orange flower in full bloom could stay around two months (or more). So when the bunch starts blooming from one end to the other, it blooms till the entire bunch is bloomed then is still fresh.. so I guess it’s there for quite a while.

And then I saw the Miss Universe…THE JADE VINE, one of her kind challenging everyone one nearby… the colour of the bud blue/green or turquois or jade or copper oxide or somewhere near aqua… something so uncommon… sorry I am lost & have absolutely no idea! I have seen NATURAL green roses & orchids but absolutely no memory of jade coloured flower. One has to see it to believe its magnanimous size, unusual colour & smooth surface like a baby’s butt… I had to catch hold of my best friend’s handy man Kutty who is 5.1 feet to pose with the bunch so that I can remember the size. It’s almost 5 feet along with the top of the stem as the buds starts from few inches in a bunch. It is still growing like Lord Hanumanji’s tail in Sundarkand of Ramayana, as if to challenge me for questioning her worthyness!! Sadly it seems like the life span of jade flower is shorter than that of the orange & it started falling early… may be the mother is tired of over demanding child!!

Also known as emerald vine & turquoise jade vice, said to be native to forest of Mount Makiling on Luzon, the largest & most northern island in the Philippines (Tayabak), is also found in Hawaii, Jamaica, some warm humid strips of South Africa, etc. It’s hard to say where ANY PLANT species originated as no one has ever explored the entire Universe. Just because someone comes across a particular plant at a particular location at a particular time, they say it’s originated there. It’s like Christopher Columbus calling new world as India & calling the natives Indians!! Moreover they end up putting such difficult scientific name or sadly change the name after the person supposed to have dis-covered… oh boy!

jade flower india coorg kuhsalnagarjade flower india coorg kuhsalnagarjade flower india coorg kuhsalnagar

Guess she is not that hard to grown but one has to be patient enough to wait for at least 2 years. Even though the growth seems to be little slow in the beginning, as the vine gets strong foot hold, under healthy conditions the large woody climber creeps generously & if not trained it would climb at its own whims & fancy. Sky is the limit seems to be the mantra for the growth of all the vines. Tender leaves are fragile & it looks glassy & dark somewhere between purplelish (reddish-brown/black) & then it turns to green. The stem is dark brown with finely peeling bark.

Fortunately I got the chance to see both of them this year. This is the second bloom of the vine & absolutely no idea if it is going to have any pods or the seeds this year too. Last years the vine bore few small bunches & no seeds. Ironically even though the tiny little black-ants were milling in & out, I could not see any sign of sweet attraction of the bees or other insects including wasps & not sure if it attracts any birds with long beak like humming bird or nocturnal pollinators like the bats. Since it is not native to South India & with ever dwindling bugs & little birds, whether it calls for hand pollination like the vanilla (see my earlier article) or will it be able to produce pods & seeds has to be seen in time. It is advised to plant male & female vines side by side… well I really can’t identify them!! Sorry folks we cannot give you a plant as this cannot be propagated by cuttings it seems.

Even though I wanted to spend more time with the flowers, I had to bid good bye soon but I am definitely planning to monitor the flower in 2015 from beginning to end, record it & also will write about it along with the pictures in different stages to those who are interested. But if Mother Nature will favor me with a bloom that size in 2015 is a big question mark!! It is said that coffee grounds (used coffee powder) increase the number of bunches… How proud my plant Guru would have been to see the flower if it had bloomed an year earlier…

Note: Unfortunately rather sadly the jade bunch was cut by a naughty child who was visiting just before it bloomed. Hope the vine will be kind enough to grace one more large bunch in the near future.

20140831_160004

Blue Colored Bees, am I kidding?

Thanks to all…

When I started off with my blog, even though I am very passionate about the things around me, I was apprehensive about my writing skill & how it will be received. But most of my friends, colleague & family encouraged me & continues to encourage me. When they find something interesting straightaway it ends up on my lap. My readers also have been very supportive & it reached four & a half thousand mark, its really motivational.

My best friend sent me this picture yesterday of two different kol-thenu (stick honey) so called because they build their hives on low lying straight branches of the shrubs/trees. It’s so very beautiful, truly a work of art… I always admire the engineering skills of Mr. & Mrs. Bees.

One is like a … oh it remind me of so many things… sawed teak log to monkey face to pizza to what not.. use your own imagination.

The second one is like the bottom half of India map.. what is eye catching is that in the first one you can see the gray coloured worker bee & the black dots are the head of the bees in the comb. You can see the pairs of eyes very clearly.

The third picture (close-up of second) you can see the blue colour of the bee baby just out in open… blue bee babies… I never saw anything like it before. You can also see the blue shade in the capped brood comb. Queen bee is supposed to be blue & by any chance if I get to photograph I will definitely share with you all!! I have heard of the mysterious blue & green coloured honey from Ribeauville in Alsace, North West of France gathered by the candy loving bees from the sugary waste of M&Ms. But I did not see blue honey bee babies before!! That too fully blue.. how coooolll.

This was found on my late friend Dr. Achaiah’s backyard, who was very passionate about the nature & its beings, so I have nick named it as “Achaiah’s blue baby bee”!!

blue baby bee1

blue baby bee2blue baby bee3

************

The cream coloured waxy substance in the h  ive is the Royal jelly (aka bee’s milk) secreted from the glands in the heads of worker bees, is the honey bee secretion that is used in the nutrition of larvae, as well as adult queens. However, it is fed to queen bee though out her live & to all larvae in the colony for the first three days, regardless whether they are destined to become drones (males), workers (sterile females), or queens (fertile females). It is also is the secret of queen bee’s longevity (4 – 5 years compared to one season for the workers). It is supposed to possess magical properties & used as a general health tonic, for fighting the effects of aging, & for boosting the immune system.

One man against all odds….

Can someone do everything right in this world? What is the qualification or what kind of parenting is needed to teach a young one right from the wrong? Well one just has to be human & have the determination of harmonious coexistence with Mother Nature as well as thier fellow creations. Read on about the phenomenal contribution for human kind by a single person, Jadav Molai Payeng, from a humble background. Positive energy of these kinds of souls is enough to keep the Universe pulsating.

It was 1979 & floods had washed a great number of snakes onto the sandbar of a remote region near Kokilamukh of Jorhat in the state of Assam, around 350 km from Guwahati. One day, after the waters had receded, while walking home to Aruna Chapri village of Majuli district, a 16 years old youngster from Mishing tribe found the sandbar dotted with the dead reptiles. It did not take much time for the smart tribal teenager Jadav to realize that the snakes had died on the sand in the heat, without any tree cover. The kind, helpless teenager sat down & wept over their lifeless forms. His young mind wondered today snakes & tomorrow the human race could perish & wanted to stop this carnage but how? He spoke to elders & said what if one day we all die like snakes? They smirked & said don’t be a fool that won’t happen & gave him 20 bamboo seedlings to plant on the sandbar. He religiously planted them on the dry sand after building a fence hoping one day they will grow big, it would be green, fertile & attract birds & animals.
Call from the Mother Nature was too strong for the young soul & once back home the young mind thought, I could not just ignore the situation like others. So what if nobody is interested to help me? I myself should try to do something. That was the turning point of his life & he never looked back. Meanwhile in 1980 when the social forestry division of Golaghat district launched a 5 years tree plantation scheme on 200 hectares at Aruna Chapori, about 5 km from Kokilamukh, he started working as a labourer. After the completion of the project, even after other workers left He chose to stay back.

Thus began the greatest journey of hope ever known to mankind, with a single seed of dream germinating in the beautiful mind of a single individual maturing into a gigantic tree against all the odds!! With the spirit & hope of seeing greenery &, birds & animals he started planting…. & planting… & planting… 35 years on & he is still planting. After all man is a creature of habit!!

He gave up schooling & willingly accepted a life of isolation, he started living on the sandbar & single handedly started planting seeds & seedlings on the sand bar & spending his days tending the burgeoning plants. His mission became his religion, he gladly chose Mother Nature as his teacher, sandbar as his class room & trees as his classmates. For him the mantra was: “Tvameva Mata cha Pita Tvameva, Tvameva Bandhu cha Sakha Tvameva, Tvameva Vidya Dravinam Tvameva, Tvameva Sarvam Mama Deva Deva” {Nature is everything – mother, father, brother, friend, knowledge, wealth, etc. Everything is connected & is inseparable from her. The word ‘dravinam’ in the beautiful Sanskrit has several meanings as: wealth, strength, valour, gold, wish, the basic material from which things are made}. There was nobody to help him but the determined young man would not give up. He proved that with true dedication anyone can turn from ordinary to extraordinary & unique. The proverbial say “God helps those who help themselves” proved right in his case.
Jadav quoted to a news reporter: I then decided to grow proper trees. I collected & planted them. I also transported red ants from my village, & was stung many times. Red ants change the soil’s properties. That was an experience, Jadav said, laughing. Soon, there were a variety of flora & fauna which burst in the sandbar, including endangered animals like the one-horned rhino & Royal Bengal tiger (at least five tigers, one of which also bore two cubs). Besides apes & several varieties of birds, including vultures there are rabbits, deer, etc. After 12 years, we’ve seen vultures. Migratory birds, too, have started flocking here. “Deer & cattle have attracted predators, claimed Jadav. The forest has become a migratory route & a sanctuary to a herd of around 100 elephants, which generally stay for around six months & often destroys the crops. They have given birth to 10 calves in the forest in recent years. There were times when the angry villagers beat up Jadav blaming the destruction of their paddy fields by the elephant’s. Villagers, whose homes had been destroyed by the pachyderms, wanted to cut down the forest, but Jadav dared them to kill him instead. Jadav has dedicated his life to the upkeep & growth of the forest. He treats the trees & animals like his own children. Seeing this, we, too, decided to not to trouble him, added an elderly villager.

The unparallel achievements of this gentle soul is far too greater & beyond belief/comprehension. Yet it’s a fact – that’s what the modern world seeks… the so called proof. After a few years, the sandbar in the middle of the Brahmaputra was transformed into a bamboo thicket. More than 35 years on, once-barren sandbar became a sprawling forest covering an area of 1,360 acres (550-hectare of which about 300 hectares of bamboo), rich in bio diversity attracting many animals & birds. It’s now home to thousands of varieties of trees including valcol, arjun, ejar, goldmohur, koroi, moj & himolu & an astounding diversity of wildlife.

In one of the interview Jadav said locals recently killed a rhino which was seen in his forest at another forest in Sibsagar district. He revealed that he lost around 100 of his own cows & buffaloes (his only source of income) to the tigers in the forest, but blames the people who carry out large scale encroachment & destruction of forests as the root cause of the plight of wild animals. Jadav talks like a trained conservationist. “Nature has made a food chain; why can’t we stick to it? Who would protect these animals if we, as superior beings, start hunting them? Jadavs enthusiasm never ends there & is ready to manage the forest in a better way & to go to other places of the state to start a similar venture. Now his aim is to spread his forest to another sand bar inside of Brahmaputra. He is both the seed & tree of hope, desire & in true sense an inspiration to the mankind. You are right Mr.Shahrukh Khan when you kept repeating like a trained parrot; “don’t under estimate the power of common man” in the movie Chennai Express!!
Jadav, nicknamed forest man of India, who is now 51, still lives in the forest sharing a small hut with his wife Binita & three children (two sons & a daughter) & makes a living selling cow & buffalo milk. They support & help Jadav in his mission. Asked if he regretted giving up school, calmly said: Five of my classmates/bench-mates have become engineers; one is a sales tax superintendent, all of them well settled in city living in lavish flats. But I still live in jungle where I have always lived yet I am the happiest man in the world. Again calmly adds there could be no one happier than me.

He has a message to the world: says the education should be changed in such a way that each student has to plant two trees. Thus they would produce their own oxygen. If they are unable to do so, they should fail their exam. He hopes that people in Indian & everywhere starts making this planet greener. Then it would be a very beautiful world to live in. I am sure of it says he.

The locals call the place ‘Molai Kathoni’ (Molai’s santuary) after its creator’s nickname/pet-name. It took him more than 30 years to be recognized by the government. Luckily the forest department also named it “Molai woods” instead of naming after a politician sitting thousands of kilometers away or after a so called explorer who cannot even spell the local word!! What would you call him a wild life activist or environmental activist or a true conservator of forest or a gifted son of Mother Nature? In this chaotic world where everyone is screaming & attending conference after conference on global warming & ending without any solution, surely farsighted Payeng is a beacon of hope & perhaps definitely deserves world honour more than anyone!! Solutions are what we seek & constancy is what we need. He surely fits in the imaginary (which almost seemed real to readers) character of Elzeard Bouffier created by the French author Jean Giono 1953 when he wrote the epic tale The Man Who Planted Trees with the intention of making his readers fall in love with trees.
The whole saga of Jadav’s extraordinary feat was unknown to outside world till 2008. It was when forest department officials went to the area in search of a herd of about 100 elephants that had retreated into the forest after a marauding spree in the village of Aruna Chapori, about 1.5 kms from the Molai forest, they were surprised to find such a large dense forest in the middle of a sandbar. Elephants also had destroyed Payeng’s hutment & it was then that Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF) Gunin Saikia met Payeng for the first time. ACF Saikia said to reports that it is perhaps the world’s biggest forest in the middle of a river. We’re amazed at Payeng who has been at it for 30 years. Had he been in any other country, he would have been made a hero.” There are proposals to declare the area a conservation reserve under provisions of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
Writing about him brings me great joy & his feat an enigma, beyond my perception & understanding capacity. I think, this simplest of the simple, humblest of the humble indeed the greatest soul to walk on earth in both 20th & 21st century. He proved to the world what a single beautiful mind can do even without the use of guns, bombs & looting. Perhaps one day when he is gone the signature left behind will be worth more than million Nobel prizes!! A true soldier in his own rights &, both the cause & effect of his mission, a mission impossible to others. May god bless him with long healthy life. Makes me wonder if he is a freak accident of creation or a cursed heavenly gardener on earth?? Living on the banks of Brahmaputra, He truly is a Brahmaputra (son of Brahma). “I would gladly say it only happens in India”!! Hope one day every Indian will feel the same way as I feel – truly honoured – just to hear about him & will be cherished as he truly deserved to be.

He was awarded President’s award by A.P.J. Abdul Kalam who spoke to him for one & a half hours. On April 22nd 2012, Jadav Payeng was honoured at a public function arranged by the School of Environmental Sciences, Jawarlal Nehru University for his remarkable achievement. He shared his experience of creating a forest in an interactive session. A locally made film documentary The Molai Forest, produced by Jitu Kalita who lives near Payeng’s house was featured. In the month of October 2013, he was honoured at Indian Institute of Forest Management during their annual event Coalescence. Jadav Payeng & Molai forest have been featured by Aarti Shrivastava in 2013 film documentary Foresting life. Jadav Payeng & Molai forest have been featured in William Douglas McMaster’s 2013 film documentary Forest Man.

The day I ran away from my Mother

It happened a long time ago, I was in 4th standard, barely 9 years old. Today my dear mother is no more & I am myself a mother & grandmother! Now when I look back it sounds ridiculous to me but this is my story of how I ran away!

My father was a school Head Master & was always getting transferred to many towns, & up until I was in 5th standard we always went along with him. However, after that, we ended up staying in one place to take care of our education as well as our coffee estates & my father only came home during weekends & holidays. One of the places we moved to was Kodlipet, a small town in Somwarpet taluk of Kodagu district in Karnataka. We lived in a nice comfortable rented house with very large compound, almost half an acre with lots of fruit tress like jackfruit, guava, etc., a large garden & farm animals like cows & chickens. Next to our compound was the local Civil Hospital which had a larger compound with lots of fruit trees.

Behind our house& hospital compound there was a vacant bit of land, another half an acre or so with thicket, then there was a pliable mud road with jelly stones leading to another place called Kyathe. Beyond that road there was a large Lake partially covered by forest with numerous fruit & flower trees including Seethe poo (wild fragrant orchid). We were well aware of the surroundings as weekends & holidays we roamed freely everywhere searching for fruits, berries, tamarind, mushrooms & butterflies, etc. There were a small variety of edible orange colored palm fruit which I have not seen anywhere else. Among everything there was a tree, my favourite tree, with tiny flowers called Suragi, one of the most amazing white & yellow flowers with round reddish buds which bloomed almost all over the stem, which was a rare sight. Add to it even when dry it had that amazing heavenly fragrance.

I was a very healthy child but one day I became very, very ill & my temperature started going up, practical burning with fever my whole body had turned red. Usually when we were sick, mother always tried some home remedy first & if we don’t get better then a trip to hospital next door. Since I was very bad with sudden rise in temperature & home remedy had no effect, my mother forcibly took me to the hospital. I was sobbing & throwing tantrum & blabbering without making any sense it seems. When doctor saw us, we got priority & he made me sleep on the medical table & checked. After the initial checking & looking at me he said don’t worry child, you will be fine by tomorrow I will write medicines for you. I was still on the table as he walked out gesturing mum to follow him & was telling her in hushed tone she is in very bad shape. “Why didn’t you bring her earlier… guess you have to admit her immediately & before that I will give an injection.” He called out the nurse saying I have done with the patient here prepare the injection for the next patient outside.

I had terrible phobia of injections & I summarized the whole thing in my mind & concluded that the injection was meant for me. Even though I could not sit or stand, just managed to get up from the bed & managed to slip out. Perhaps no one was expecting me to do that in that condition either. With the fear & fit of rage, managed to walk home, then realizing they would be looking for me, I decided to hide.

Where would I hide? I choose to walk towards the vacant land behind our house, then aimlessly walked further as if possessed crossing the road towards the little forest on the lake bank. By then my fear & rage subsided & the high fever putting pressure on me I started crying for my mother. When I left the hospital I had only one problem: fear of needle. But now the whole scenario had changed & I had one too many problems in hand.. I wanted to sleep on my mother’s lap, was thirsty, was scared, was exhausted, feeling giddy & could not see properly & on top of it wondering if my mother would punish me for bad behavior, etc., etc. Somehow, staggering I landed near my favourite tree perhaps that was the closest to my mother in my mind & collapsed rather passed out under the tree. The whole saga from home to hospital to home & to the forest was a haze… all jumbled up.

In the meantime big commotion at the hospital as to how such a sick patient disappeared mysteriously? My mother frantically searching & crying for me, word was sent to my father at school about me missing. No one knew what really happened to me… no those days they did not fear about the kidnapping… hahahaha. A voluntary search team was formed & my mother was nonstop crying bitterly… guess she must have thought I fell & died somewhere. For many hours they searched without any trace of me. Finally someone returning from his farm happened to see the commotion & when he learnt of Head Master’s missing daughter, he told them that: on my way to farm I saw her near the lake & I was wondering what she is doing alone on a school day. Guess she was headed towards the forest. I did not talk to her because I was in a hurry. So now that the search area is narrowed, they managed to find me under the tree passed out (or sleeping) I have no idea.

When I woke up my mother was holding me & crying, & my father sitting holding his head in despair. Don’t know if I was dead or only slumber or unconscious, I was not aware of how I landed back in the hospital. Doctors could not believe that I managed to survive the ordeal. I spent 6 days in the hospital & another one month at home resting. It’s a miracle I survived… seems like there was some kind of divine intervention or perhaps a fairy was sitting among those pretty Suragi flowers watching out for me or if the tree/flower had healing powers. I lived through it to tell the tales… if I was not found so soon, if not from my sickness perhaps I would have died of my other three phobias!! All for a mere injection… so phobia’s can have unimaginable effect on us… only good thing came of it was that I am not afraid of needles anymore!!

Note: I did go to Kodlipet few years back to get my school certificate as proof to say I am from Karnataka for my son’s engineering admission but could not go anywhere as we had to get back immediately. After we left Kodlipet I never saw those wild flowers but I can still feel the fragrance & see the prettiest flowers in front of my eyes. No wonder this ancient tree is called Punnaga (best among the trees). My mother loved them too. We made garlands & wore around our neck, on our braided hair, offered to God, kept under the pillow, between our books, as potpourri, made tea, etc. During the rainy season when the fresh water flowed to the lake on grass, the fish moved upwards from lake towards the fresh warm water & we used to go & pick them up even with bare hands too. Those were the times of plenty. The fun/beautiful moments, we had was once in life time experience & believe me way cooooolll than sitting in front of the note book-ipad-mobile!! If any of you readers have seen a wild tree (not hybrid) of Suragi please let me know!

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!!!

I have posted a picture of dates bunches so pretty & plenty but not edible!!???????????????????????????????  139  20140210_073856 ??????????????????????????????? IMG_3646 ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? ???????????????????????????????  ???????????????????????????????  IMG_8283 IMG_8311??????????????????????????????? P1010875 IMG_6705???????????????????????????????

Bees in the Desert – Dubai

Dubai is one of the emirates or states in UAE(United Arab Emirates), in the Middle East which is portrayed larger than life… ever increasing in popularity as tourist destination, shopper’s paradise and foodies dream. A master piece in its own right, practically showcasing every cultures and nations of the world in a nutshell. It’s a place which does not have any natural resource, but has everything thanks to the futuristic ruler. The cleanliness is eye catching and the Burg Khalif stands tall as if policing the whole emirate. Never ending tide of tourists & visitors and, the weeked trip to Dubai mall, the largest mall in the world would remind one of factory workers milling out after the evening siren. I first passed through Dubai way back in 1991 on my way to Abu Dhabi. From then to now Dubai has come a long way…But not until this millennium my visits are becoming more frequent and stay are longer. What fascinated me more about Dubai than all the concrete structure is the ever increasing bird population and some insects like butterflies and bugs. Early morning Birds chirping in Middle East is music to my ears, against witnessing the ever dwindling bird population in South India.

dubai 2014 052

Raised in Western Ghats of India my fascination of Mother Nature is insatiable. I had three different experiences in 50 days and I want to share one of my most incredible experiences…

Paddy (rice) pollination is generally considered done by wind or self pollination. It always bothered me because my parents told me it’s done by bees. I always wanted to see the source of paddy pollination & I was not even sure if such small paddy flowers contained/hosted any nectar too. During the paddy flowering season there used to be a special kind of honey which is little darker and thick which was normally preserved for the home consumption. Unfortunately then unlike now I was more interested in eating than worrying about the source. Thanks to my granddaughter, during October – November 2013, I had the privilege of spending 50 straight days in Dubai. Every morning I spent more than an hour in the lawn with the new born acquiring free supply of vitamin D and getting rid of her jaundice. Now I will let my pictures tell you their own stories… taking these pictures were very, very tricky and I wish I was a better photographer and used professional camera… better luck next time…

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

The bees often used to make me laugh… the grass stalk is so small and the flower are so tiny-tiny it’s like comparing elephant with a mouse. The bees coiled/wound around the stalk and sucked the nectar from flower. What an ingenious feat!! Then while unwinding most of then lost the balance and fell on the ground… its so funny like albatross running before taking off… my dear old Mother Nature never ceases to surprise me.

Brahma Kamala – Uttarakhand

Now why am I writing this you might ask? Well my good old dear Mrs.Midnight Flower is often mistakenly called as Brahma Kamala, including a major website where the picture of midnight flower is shown as Brahma Kamala. However both the flowers are poles apart…. calling them same is no justice to both the flowers as both are unique in their own way. It’s as if we identify Sahara desert same as Himalayas.

Since I have not seen one, to touch & feel a Brahma Kamala & visiting valley of flowers is in my bucket list since ages!! It is scientifically known as Saussurea obvallata which comes under Sunflower family, Asteraceae. It is the state flower of Uttarakhand, is one of the most famous & beautiful flowers seen in the Himalayas & in the Valley of Flowers National Park, a Unesco World heritage site located in the upper expanses of Bhyundar Ganga near Joshimath in Gharwal. This region is known for the variety & rarity of its flowers & plants. In 1982 the Indian Postal Department has issued a postal stamp to commemorate this beautiful Himalayan flower.

This is supposed to be a perennial growing plant and the flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male & female organs) & pollinated by insects.
The thick curved roots of these plants are supposed to be used as local medicine for paralysis of the limbs, cerebral ischemia & uro-egenital disorders. In Tibet this plant is called Sah-du Gph-ghoo & the entire plant isused in medicine. It is supposed to taste bitter.

BK_Last
I never had the privilege so far to see this unique flower so far & I’m using this picture from the internet. Also I have included some extra information so that those who never heard before will get to know the place.
Uttarakhand, a breath takingly beautiful place is often referred to as the Dev Bhumi (land of Gods) as it is home to some of the Hinduism’s most spiritual & auspicious places of pilgrimage & worship. Popularly known as Char-dham Yatra (four highly sacred destinations) where thousands of Hindu devotees pay their visit to wash away their sins in the urge of salvation & spiritual redemption. This exalted trip was being initiated in 8th Century by the great reformer & philosopher Adi Shankaracharya. It compromises of:
Yamunotri (origin of River Yamuna). It is the only place where the devotees can find both the amalgamation of hot & cold environment. The Himalayan environment is purified & freezes with the cold tides of the glaciers of River Yamuna & the sides are remained warmed up with thermal springs which are known as Kunds of Goddess Shakti),
Gangotri at Uttarkashi (3,200 mts above the sea level – origin of river Ganga through the prayer made by king Bhagirath believed to be the sacred source of purity & sanctity),
Kedarnath (at Rudraprayag district at an altitude of 3584 m above the sea level flanking around the river Mandaki) & Badrinath (at Chamoli at an altitude of 3415 meters in the Garhwal Hills on the bank of Alaknanada River).

Uttarakhand is also home to the oldest National park of the Indian subcontinent, the Jim Corbet National park which hosts the Bengal tiger. Ancient rock paintings, rock shelters, paleolithic stone tools (hundreds of thousands of years old), & megaliths provide evidence that the mountains of the region have been inhabited since prehistoric times. There are also archaeological remains which show the existence of early Vedic (c. 1500 BCE) practices in the area.