Friday, August 26, 2016

When Brahma Kamalam bloomed in my balcony

It was just two months ago. My mother had just reached home after a short trip to Bengaluru and was rummaging through her bag for few sprigs that she got from my brother's neighbour. When I saw the stem (leaves) she carefully managed to get, I could quickly identify it was Brahma Kamalam and I told her it’s a difficult thing to see the flowers bloom, even if the plant takes root, since it would take ages to grow. Going by whatever I had heard or read about these flowers I thought it was next to impossible to have this spectacle unfold in my balcony. But luck had it the other way. And, my mother's green thumb does the magic again.

Last evening was nothing short of a miracle.  Earlier in the day, at 12 noon to be precise, when we saw the bud tightly wrapped in greenish maroon streaks of sepals, it seemed like it may take few days to blossom. But, perhaps due the rainy and humid day, by 5.00 PM the bud had puffed up showing the inner whitish petals. In an hour, there was more loosening of the bud and my excitement know no bounds as we were about to witness a rare nocturnal occurrence of Brahma Kamal blooming in our own balcony.

I left my laptop behind and forgot about the pending tasks for the day / evening. I simply didn’t care about anything else, not even the endless mosquito bites, and sat in the balcony for hours watching the unusual spectacle unfold - in layers of petals and a whiff of something like frankincense in the air around the planters. My weakness for taking flower pictures was it its peak as I took several of them and 'reported the event live to my close friends and family', thanks to WhatsApp on my Sony Xperia.

Brahma Kamalam, (not to be confused with the mythical Himalayan variety or the state flower of Uttarakhand) is also known as Nishagandhi and Bethlehem lily as I googled to know more about this exotic flower. The mythical name apart, the flower is supposed to be very auspicious, going by the popular belief. Actually, the process of watching the flower open up is quite a sight to behold -  more like spiritual. By midnight, the flower was in full bloom, it felt like a tiny piece of moon landed on one of the flower pots with its amazingly white surreal feeling!

My mother had a nice name for it - she instantly called it bin paani ka kamal meaning lotus without water. In fact, it was nothing short of a lotus in a planter, clinging on to a frail bamboo stick for support. As the petals layered out, and the whole flower showed up in full glory, we started worrying about its short life and how it would soon droop and wither before the first rays of the Sun. And that’s exactly how it was this morning - I simply couldn’t believe how it lay lifeless! The huge white floral wonder that stood erect majestically last night, was completely languished, shrivelled up into a bud.

So symbolic the entire process was! It was like witnessing a short life filled with power packed performance, giving the best it could and creating happy memories. It was just not a happy feeling when I saw the withered sight and simply couldn't believe it was the same flower, but feeling of loss was quickly balanced with the beautiful and baffling memories it left behind. So evocative the entire experience was! So much to be cherished till the next blossom! Nature is divine and she never ceases to amaze us :)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Conversations over coffee

Please don’t read in between the lines, going by the title of this blog post. No, I didn’t ditch my tea! Archana, Madhu and Kavitha, please don’t be disheartened - the gift tea packs you showered on me are all in tact and I cherish every moment and every sip with those endless flavours from as far as Australia, Sri Lanka and Ooty. While my diehard addiction to tea will last as long as I’m around, this time, for a change I picked up a pack of granulated coffee from a near by supermarket - a hypermarket to be precise. Perhaps got carried away by the introductory offer on this brand of coffee and so on! A temptation I couldn't resist.

And, today as coffee replaced my afternoon tea, I asked myself why this sudden change in me? May be I just needed a CHANGE. It’s good to try out new stuff once in a while, right? Coffee was more of a student-days thing, not just a beverage; it was a must-have for those late night reads when most of us believed that caffeine is the best saviour when you need to sharpen your senses while slogging for research and project deadlines. The mandatory steel filter/percolator at home now lies unused in one of the racks in kitchen, a memory of younger days, when conversations happened mostly around those cups and tumblers filled with a unique roasted aroma wafting through the brain to stimulate the intellectual hormones, if there's anything like that! Remember this was not instant coffee!

Coffee, for me,  was when there were no Cafe Coffee Days and Starbucks in Hyderabad and our nearest source of freshest coffee was Ramesh Coffee Stores in Sitafalmandi, Secunderabad. Coffee is nostalgia about heated debates and discussions about English Education in India with a bunch of friends, some of whom smoked along and I did not mind the passive effect as we were engulfed in discussions about some burning issues in the country. Coffee, for me, was when we had our fill of Idli or Dosa and simply couldn’t resist ordering a cup in a Kamath in Hyderabad or a Sagar in Bengaluru. Coffee distinctly evokes those library and fieldwork days at IISC Bengaluru, which had an outlet /canteen of Tata’s if I remember right. And, my most unforgettable original coffee experience was whenever I visited Dr. Rajagopal on EFLU campus. I don't remember missing out on any occasion, their freshly filtered coffee, served most traditionally, in a small steel tumbler.  This was most refreshing after a somewhat long drive to their place for a quick catch up.

Coffee was when my parents disliked the caffeine overdose as a means of staying awake late nights to read, write and while away time imagining how I could change the things I could not! And did not know the difference.

Coffee was idealism - tea is realism!
Coffee is my past and tea is what I live for.