Going gaga over trees

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A motley group of around 20 students of Sishu Griha Montessori and High School had a whale of a time on a bright Saturday morning exploring the world of trees at a Tree Walk which was part of Neralu – The Bengaluru Tree Festival.

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The group all of them belonging to the middle school trooped enthusiastically behind naturalist Poornima Kannan as she explained the nitty-gritty of the trees skirting the lovely playground of the school.

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The helicopter seeds of the mahogany tree grabbed eyeballs. One student after another chucked the seeds in style to see them landing like a helicopter on terra firma. When Poornima asked the students all of whom belong to the school’s nature club why the seed landed like a helicopter, pat came the replies:

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“The seed makes a slow and soft landing.”

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“The seeds should not scatter near the parent tree.”

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Certainly, the boys and girls had done their homework and how!

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The talk then moved to the mahogany pods as Poornima pointed skywards to the hundreds that were on the tree.

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A game of cricket was on at the ground. Whoever was at the crease seemed to be belting sixers and fours and the ball seemed to be always coming near the group. But the cricket enthusiasts in the group did not allow themselves to be distracted by the ball or the cheers and claps.

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Early morning joggers and dog walkers passed by and gave the group curious looks. I asked a couple of girls what they felt about the walk. “It is an experience I can’t forget,” said Sharanya with a sweet smile. For Pradnya it was an experience which she would not get to have on a daily basis. They were clearing enjoying their outing on the sun-soaked ground.

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The diversity of the tree wealth in the neighbourhood took Poornima by surprise. There were a lot of species. When she pointed to a little peepal tree that had sprouted from the steps of the playground and asked, “Can you tell me what tree this is?”, it was greeted with enthusiasm.

“Aunty, it is the peepal tree”, “Aunty it is also called the Bodhi tree, Buddha meditated under it.”

The teakwood trees, jackfruit trees, rain trees, Nile tulip trees, papaya trees were next on the itinerary.

The teakwood trees, jackfruit trees, rain trees, Nile tulip trees, papaya trees were next on the itinerary.

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A lipstick tree just outside the ground came across as one unheard of tree. “This is the one of the food colour that has been approved by the USDA”, said Poornima as she crushed some juvenile seeds with her fingers.

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Even before the euphoria surrounding the lipstick tree died down, Poornima pointed out to a tall tree and said, “Children! that is the Buddha’s coconut tree.” A student standing behind the crowd asked, “Aunty, whose tree?” much to the amusement of others. And another remarked at the seed pods, “They look like helmets.” “The tree is as interesting as its name and is also called the “Pagla Tree” in North India because of variations in its canopy.

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A good time was spent admiring its little flowers and laughing over the funny names.

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The walk ended at the lush green BDA park in the vicinity. The children went gaga over the numerous Bottlebrush trees and the bees buzzing around the drooping fluorescence.

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The pavilion at the park turned out to be a fine venue for a mini-quiz contest on trees. Quizmaster Poornima kept the students busy with a steady flow of questions. And after the quiz, she opened her Santa bag to unveil a beautiful collection of pods and seeds. The children marvelled.

As the clock struck nine, the accompanying teacher signalled it was time to wind up. On the way back, Poornima pointed to a huge tree whose trunk bore a resemblance to a eucalyptus tree, “See that’s an Arjuna tree”. The teacher and the students were spellbound. After a brief discussion on the school grounds it was time to go. Surely, the trees around Sishu Griha would have been touched at the amount of love and attention showered on them that special Saturday morning. It is up to us, their guardians, to look after them and conserve them for generations to come. As for the students, “they enjoyed more than they learnt”.

 

 

A lovely February afternoon at Lal Bagh – III

I managed to get a week off in late January/early February and was jubilant. The idea was to travel to some place, explore it and click pictures. Sadly, the plan fell flat and I had to stay holed up in Bangalore leaving me shattered. I had a lot of backlog when it came to my blog but I was in no mood to stay indoors. So I planned a small outing every day of the week to console myself.

On the first day of the month of love, I decided to go to Lal Bagh. I was quite sure the serene surroundings of the botanical gardens would lift my mood.

I started off post-lunch and didn’t face any hassle commuting by bus and then auto. So I reached the gardens quicker than I expected.

I chose to take a different path this time away from the Peninsular Gneiss. Just a week back, I had visited Lal Bagh for the flower show and visuals of the show were still fresh in my mind.

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I headed for the bonsai garden and strolled around the place. The quiescence was intoxicating.  The dwarf version of the Araucaria cookie caught my eye. Just a month back I had gone gaga over the larger version of the tree at the Christmas Tree Walk. I noticed the bonsais were all re-arranged probably as a precautionary measure after the mishap that took place some months back resulting in a young boy losing his life. Aesthetically, it was a change for the worse.

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I next came across this tall palm. Lal Bagh is full of them.

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Unlike most of the colonial structures in Lal Bagh which are in a sad shape this beautiful bungalow seems to be in mint condition. It was a brainchild of Gustav Hermann Krumbiegel and served as his residence, the residence of his successor, then a museum till the 1960s. Later, it was converted into an office.

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Close by, there was another vintage beauty.

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As I walked, I disturbed this dog that was till then was fast asleep on a pile of dry leaves.

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I noticed a container secured to a branch of a mango tree. Wonder what it is for?

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Further on, I came across this beautiful tree and took a picture.

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And as I walked on, I discovered another beauty.

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I was puzzled on seeing the branches of this tree. Never before have I come across so many vertical branches.

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It was leaf-shedding season for many trees.

A group of monkeys were having a whale of a time near the lake.

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This youngster seemed to be counting his catch of fruits and relishing them. So engrossed was he that he hardly noticed me approaching him. He realised someone was watching him only after he finished his mini-lunch.

A similar looking fella was perched on the dustbin. In no time, he disappeared and appeared with a paper full of interesting grub. At least his expression tells that. And then minutes later he looked heavenwards as if to say, “Hey, this is surely manna from heaven!”

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A little distance away there was a fat chap comfortably ensconced on a bench. He seemed to be pondering over something. Monkeys are so much like us.

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Two siblings gave me an oh-so-cute pose.

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And why was this little one looking so sad?

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It was grooming time for this mother and son duo.

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The next one I saw seemed in all certainty to be the king of the gang. He seemed so wise and cool.

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As I walked on some fruits landed on my head. When I looked up see what I saw. A naughty munchkin with a guilty expression.

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Looks like looking heavenwards after getting food is a monkey’s way of saying grace. There were a few raw mango sellers along the way and this fellow seemed to have got hold of a discarded seed portion of a mango, something most humans feel lazy to eat.

He then had one good look at his food before landing his first bite, “Scruu..nch”.

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A few bites later he stopped as if to say, “Hey there, I am so sorry I’m eating without sharing with you”.

 

 

He then cast some curious glances before continuing to munch.

Inspired by him, I bought raw mango and sat down to relish it with salt and chilli powder. So lost was I that I forgot about sunset. After finishing the mango, I hurried up the Peninsular Gneiss to click pictures of the setting sun only to realise I was a wee bit late. The sun had gone down.

It was beginning to get dark. I went down the hillock and decided to end my day with a plate of ‘chaat’ which did not turn out be as tasty as the mango. I left Lal Bagh with memories of the monkeys and of course the raw mango with chilli and salt (yummmm!).

Lal Bagh Flower Show – January 2017

I seem to be running out of luck when it comes to taking leave in 2017. After having missed getting one for the Avarekai Mela, I thought I would definitely get an off for the flower show but that was not to be (sob sob!). Mercifully, I managed to get a half day leave on 24 January. That meant I had to be quick with the pictures in the short time I had because I had to be in office post lunch or before it.

I started my day pretty early and full of enthusiasm. Shooting flowers is one of favourite pastimes. The colours make me feel very happy and transport me to a fairy tale world. In the midst of flowers I am lost.

I took a rickshaw and reached the gardens in half an hour. Because it was a working day getting tickets wasn’t a hassle, moreover there was more than one counter.

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As I approached the Glass House, the central venue of the show, I noticed there weren’t many visitors. There were school children trooping around with their teachers.

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The prime attraction at this edition of the flower show, a floral replica of the Gol Gumbaz, looked stunning and stood out from afar.

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When I entered the Glass House, to my disappointment, the flowers were arranged far away from the barricades making it difficult to take pictures. My first reaction on seeing this significant change in the arrangement was “What!”

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Pictures of the floral beds were all I could take. The bed of cymbidium orchids from Sikkim was my first capture followed by the dahlias and asters.

An attractive hut covered in greenery served as a showcase for vertical gardening, the new talk of the town.

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Like always, there were selfie enthusiasts galore and like always they had a tough time getting that one perfect shot.

Unlike in the previous editions of the flower show, when I would spend hours inside the Glass House clicking pictures, I finished quickly this time, because as I mentioned earlier the flowers were way too far away to take good pictures.

Outside the Glass House, there were quite a few exhibits too. Among them was a model tribal village. There was a barricade around it which again made taking pictures difficult. I asked one of the security guards if I could go in and take pictures and to my surprise he readily agreed. I walked in even as the growls of big cats and hoots of owls were playing from a speaker somewhere in the midst of the village. The tribal folks inside were unmoved as I took pictures.

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There were many floral waterfalls too and an attractive bird among the floral exhibits around the central venue.

 

The many makeshift stalls and nurseries selling seeds and plants as part of the show offered me some photo opportunities which I didn’t get inside the Glass House. In a way these photo-ops were a consolation.

I left Lal Bagh after a round of quick shopping at the stalls. Among my picks was a large watering can. Thankfully, there was enough time to drop it at home before proceeding to office because I didn’t want to walk in to work with a watering can in hand.

And on that note, I ended a very different kind of sojourn at a Lal Bagh Flower show. Hopefully, the flowers are not kept so far away at the next edition.