The pink blooms in all their glory

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The lovely blooms of the Tabebuia impetiginosa are all over the Garden City.  This year, I had to forego my annual visit to Cubbon Park to the little island where there is a cluster of these beautiful trees. The Tabebuia impetiginosa blooms in Cubbon Park are simply breathtaking because of the presence of a greater number of these trees in the park. This year, I am tied up with so many things that I am unable to find time for a visit. To add to that, I am under the weather with a bad throat and a bad cough.

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However, a visit to my father’s office post-Christmas offered a pleasant surprise. There were so many of these blooms around the office campus and the living quarters. The view was enchanting. This is the same place where I once stayed. The trees are in the vicinity of my childhood home.

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The colour the sweet air and the clean surroundings took me back to those fun-filled childhood days when all I saw was green, green and more green. That was when Bangalore was a Garden City in every sense of the word and was covered with trees and plants of myriad hues.

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I went on a clicking spree but this time it was with my mobile as  I was not carrying my DSLR with me. My favourite sight turned out to be this one with an anthill. Anthills which were a common sight in the 1970s and 1980s can hardly be seen these days. Where have all the ants gone?

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Lost amidst all the yellow!

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It is that time of the year when my favourite flowering tree, The Tree of Gold aka the Tabebuia argentea is in full bloom. The stunning spectacle of the Tree of Gold in full bloom keeps unfolding in my mind all through the year. I just love that divine feeling that engulfs me when I am near the yellow blooms. It is like festival time!

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My experience of sighting a fully-bloomed Tree of Gold is not complete without seeing the cluster of yellow canopies on the island surrounding the bandstand at Cubbon Park.

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A tricky thing is finding out when the tree is in full bloom. There have been times when I end up visiting the park when the tree is either not in full bloom or else a tad late when the flowers have started falling off. A couple of years back, five visits to the park turned out to be wrongly timed. That year, I never got to see the tree in full bloom although each of the six visits was beautiful in its own way. This year, I was second time lucky. Just a week back (on a Sunday), the tree had flowers but had not bloomed fully. I guessed that it will take another week or a fortnight for it to bloom fully. I guessed right; the following Sunday, three to four trees were in full bloom.

I reached Cubbon Park around half-past 5 on Sunday evening. This was around the same time I came to the park when the Tabebuia Impetiginosas were in bloom in November. The bandstand around which you can find the Trees of Gold is quite far away from the Corporation side entrance of Cubbon Park from where I entered the park. So it was a little early for me to tell if the trees were in full bloom. I had to walk for at least 10 min to reach the bandstand.

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As expected, the park was a beehive of activity as it was a Sunday. There were tourists, joggers, cyclists, children, photographers, and couples among others at every expanse of the park. I weaved through the sea of humanity all the time looking around here and there for photo opportunities if any. A lone crow perched on one of the park’s many ornamental lampposts caught my eye first followed by a jackfruit tree laden with fruit.

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So engrossed was I in looking for photo opportunities that I completely missed the first of the Trees of Gold. It was there in all its golden glory covered with flowers. I couldn’t believe my luck. There were a couple of shutterbugs around among who was my fellow shutterbug friend Priya who I completely missed seeing. It was only when I ran into her again that I realised she was in the park too 🙂 . We literally dashed into each other with our cameras.

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A puffed rice seller had chosen to do business under the tree. A very strategic location I must say! Just a stone’s throw away I could see the other trees looking resplendent in their yellow canopies. I couldn’t help admiring them.

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Just then, another puffed rice seller made his way toward the yellow blooms. He knew fully well that if he had to brisk business it had to be here.

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Selfie enthusiasts and photographers were at their enthusiastic best and so were their muses. The box covered with a blue rexine sheet which turned out to be an eyesore the last year was still around 😦 .  There were a few visitors who were relaxing under the canopies with mats spread out on the grass.

As I looked around I spotted this good-looking fella. Wonder what was in his mind?

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By now the puffed-rice seller had settled down comfortably and was waiting for buyers. And the good-looking fella had settled down comfortably under a tree.

By then a balloon-and-toy seller had also made his way to the place. He was selling bubble makers and trying to attract youngsters by blowing bubbles. His efforts bore fruit because in no time, a tiny tot made his way to him and started gesturing to his parents to buy a bubble maker for him. Seconds later, a group of kids had gathered around him.

 

A young Muslim lad was the most enthusiastic of the lot. He was jumping to catch the bubbles something most of us have done as kids. And even as he was jumping he called out to his uncle. The uncle rushed to his bubbly nephew along with the other children in the family and to my surprise bought only one bubble maker for four kids! Not surprisingly, the young lad was not happy and started wailing. He wanted one for himself. The visibly embarrassed uncle had to oblige the cry baby. Shortly, another kid from the same group came running towards the bemused seller. He wanted to exchange the bubble maker with one of another colour!

Very soon, there was another kid jumping high to catch the bubbles. He too called out to his parents to buy a bubble maker for him. The parents allowed their little one to play with bubbles as long as he wanted to before buying him one.

The good-looking fella had by now moved from under the tree to the centre of the lawn.

I hovered around till the security guards started whistling asking visitors to move out. And what I would say was a fantastic day came to an end. The yellow flowers, soap bubbles, kids and their energy levels and of course the good-looking fella made my day!

 

 

 

 

Lal Bagh Flower Show – January 2019

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This year’s Republic Day edition of the famous Lal Bagh Flower Show turned out to be a fitting floral tribute to the Father of the Nation on the occasion of his 150th Birth Anniversary celebrations.

Various replicas of Mahatma Gandhi including floral ones were there everywhere. There were a few of Gandhiji’s wife Kasturba as well.

 

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While a grand floral replica of the Sabarmati Ashram was the cynosure of attention, I must admit I was more smitten by Gandhi’s monkeys especially the ones outside the Glass House that looked like they were coated with strawberry ice-cream. These huge replicas of the simians were sponsored by an ice-cream company. However, the pink replicas were installed in a fenced space much to the disappointment of selfie-enthusiasts.

Another disappointment was the arrangement of flowers. I missed taking many good pictures like in the earlier versions of the show as the flowers weren’t close enough for me to take pictures, armed as I always am with an 18-55mm lens. Luckily, there were a lot of pictures at the many nurseries for me to go click click click.

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There’s so much to eat at Avarekai Mela – IV

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After missing last year’s edition of this popular food soiree, I managed to make it to the fair this year and that too on a week day! I managed to get a day off. Yay!

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The traffic was dense on that Friday afternoon. I chose to travel during the lunch hours which would be most apt I should say to visit a food fest like this one. I must have reached Sajjan Rao Circle, the venue of the fair around 2.30pm. I had wanted to reach the place around 1 to 1.30pm but somehow couldn’t make it.

 

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There wasn’t much of a crowd. The unmistakeable aromas of dosas getting roasted on a tawa greeted me as I approached the food stalls. Undoubtedly, the dosas like always were the most desired items on the menu. The cherubic ever-smiling cook was there this time too, busy laying out Holliges. He seems to have become a media favourite over the years and had a lot of TV camera crew watching him with admiration.

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There were a lot of sellers adding to the lively atmosphere surrounding Vasavi Condiments, the organisers of the fest, including some who were selling raw avarekai. Buyers could choose to buy the avarekai either with the pod or shelled. Sacks of avarekai were also being downloaded at the venue.

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I was surprised at seeing this ice-apple seller. Ice apples normally hit the markets during the summer months. Perhaps, the early produce was an impact of climate change?

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This lady selling varieties of puffed rice was there at the 2017 edition of the fair too.

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Unlike earlier editions of the Avarekai Mela where I only had my camera with me, this time I had a smartphone too. Needless to say, I used both to take pictures. I went on a clicking spree for almost an hour.

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After I was done with the pictures, I decided to have a go for the food. In spite of the presence of so many delicacies at the stalls, I decided to go for my favourite, the Kali dosa with Avarekai sambar as the accompaniment. When waiting for my plate of dosas, I again took my camera out of the bag and clicked some more pictures. When the dosas arrived piping hot, I clicked a picture of them too. There were two on the platter. Hungry as I was, I finished off the dosas in no time. The taste was divine!

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Instead of going for another kind of dosa, I thought I would check out the Avarekai Pulao next. The Pulao which was served in a leaf bowl was a tad spicy and made me want to have something sweet.

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A highlight of this year’s Avarekai mela was the introduction of Avarekai softy ice-cream. I did not think twice before ordering a softy. When the softy arrived all green in a nice-looking cone, I devoured it. It was lip-smacking and almost made me want to go for one more. The craving to have more food vanished with the softy. Perhaps, I should have chosen to eat something else instead of the pulao. I walked around the stalls one last time and decided to go home. My feet had started aching too.

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Lost amidst all the pink

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Blooming time is the most romantic time in the Garden City. There are quite a few blooming times in the year, my favourite being late February/early March when the Tabebuia argentea or the Tree of Gold is in full bloom. Just being in the midst of these yellow canopies makes you feel intoxicated with the feeling of being in heaven. It gives you a heady feeling of divinity unparalleled to anything else. Not far behind the Tabebuia argentea blooms are the purplish-pink blooms of the Tabebuia impetiginosa and the light pink blooms of the Tabebuia rosea. Clusters of flowering trees add to the joyful experience.

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Despite being a tad busy this November, I managed to squeeze in time for a visit to Cubbon Park where there are a lot of Tabebuia impetiginosa trees. It was on a Sunday. I actually wanted to head there in the morning but overslept and had to postpone my trip to the evening hours. Things were moving at such a slow pace that I almost missed going in the evening too. Luckily, I got a bus in the nick of time and reached the Corporation Side Gate of Cubbon Park at around a quarter past 5. It was a Sunday evening and needless to say, the park was crowded with a lot of couples, families, groups of young men and women and the regular Cubbon Park walkers and joggers. There were a lot of cyclists too zigzagging through the crowd. Amidst all the brouhaha, it felt nice to hear the caws of crows and chirps of so many other birds.

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I weaved through the sea of humanity. Strangely, the Aswath Katte near the Corporation Gate entrance wore a deserted look with only one man on a seat lost in thoughts. I still have not been able to lay my hands on the history of this katte.

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As I walked on, I spotted the first beauty and lost no time in taking a picture of her canopy. I was happy the blooms were still there. The flowers were still young. Once these trees bloom it is not long before the flowers fall off. The reasons are many. Many get vandalised and then there are many which fall off due to natural factors like wind and ageing.

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IMG_7172Despite Sunday being a no-traffic day at Cubbon Park, the traffic lights were on. The evening was wearing on, the street lights were on. I had to hurry up with my pictures before dusk enveloped the place. I had to make the best of the short time I had. In a way, it was a blessing in disguise to be late because the blooms look even more beautiful with a fully-lit street light in the foreground.

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A few steps later, I reached the heavenly spot where you can find the majority of Tabebuia impetiginosas.

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People were having a whale of a time under the pink canopies. Many were picnicking, children were playing, and a lot of people were trying out different selfie poses. Balloon and peanut sellers were making brisk business. And I went into a clicking frenzy. I tried to work some magic with my mobile too but it did not work out. The light was low.
It wasn’t long before I decided to call it quits and march out. It felt nice that I got to spend one hour amidst the splendid purplish-pink blooms.

As I walked on out of the MG Road gate of the park, I could not resist taking a picture of the magnificent St Mark’s Cathedral.

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It’s Mango Time!

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I have been visiting the Mango and Jackfruit Mela at Lal Bagh Botanical Gardens since the last seven years but have never blogged about it. But this year, visiting the mela was an altogether different experience. I have not been using my DSLR like I usually do nor have I been blogging like I usually do. I just couldn’t wait to click and just couldn’t wait to be engulfed by the aromas of hundreds of varieties of mangoes. It is simply a lovely experience stepping out of home on a hot summer day. Summer is my favourite season and ever since I can remember has been synonymous with school holidays, play, travel and also mangoes.

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I left home on a bright Sunday morning. My initial worries about my day getting ruined by the rains vanished when I saw the sky. I took an auto as I was running late; I had actually wanted to leave two hours earlier. It must have taken my half an hour to reach Lal Bagh. I was greeted by a serpentine queue at the ticket counter which surprisingly had only one man on the job. What was more surprising was that those standing in the queue were hardly perturbed. There were expressions of happiness on almost all the faces that I saw and there were some who were even clicking selfies! Hats off to all these ambassadors of happiness!

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As I walked inside the gardens, I noticed a large crowd of people sporting different hues of summer. Many were there with their entire families. It felt so good seeing so much warmth all around to add to that of the sun’s. For a moment, I forgot why I had come to Lal Bagh.

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Closer to the stalls selling mangoes, the bag sellers (actually a husband and wife duo) were doing brisk business. With ban on plastic catching on, the demand for shopping bags is on the rise. The couple  selling the bags chose a strategic location, just after the entrance of the fair and before the stalls.

 

The mini makeshift exhibition hall had on display innumerable varieties of mango. I never knew there were so many kinds of mangoes. Even during the past editions of the mela, I don’t recall seeing so many varieties.

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Soon I was amidst the sea of stalls and I went on a clicking spree. Mangoes are not just yummy to eat they are a delight to photograph too!

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And in between the mango stalls, there were other vendors making the most of the crowds and doing brisk business.

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Two stalls selling ‘Aam ras’ (popular name of mango puree) was a hit with many. Balloons were of course a favourite with kids.

There were a few stalls selling jackfruit. Like the mangoes, the jackfruits were also vanishing from the stalls at a fast pace. I was amazed to see many shoulder the weight of an entire fruit and walk away. At some stalls, the farmers were shelling the fruits with artistic ease.

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After hanging around the stalls for close to an hour, I ended my trip to Lal Bagh with a walk by the lake. My simian friends were there in plenty and I couldn’t help going after them with my camera. And the Monkey Man of Lal Bagh was also there amazing one and all with his proximity with the monkeys.

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