Dil Gulmohar

What is with this city?! I’ve visited Pune so many times across seasons, but this is one phenomenon I’m yet to come to terms with! Gulmohar trees. Tonnes. All in bloom. Like a wild forest fire. Everywhere I go! Office, home, drive to the outskirts, commute, East Pune, West Pune, all over the place!

And it's not the first time I'm obsessing over them. There used to be a line of Gulmohar trees outside my landlady, Gayatri's house in Lokhandwala, Bombay, where I lived last. I remember writing about trees in general too a couple of years back, in Bombay again. Yet I can’t get enough of them. And every Gulmohar tree in the city is drenched in the blooms. The skyline's as if set aflame! The leaves seem to have given way. As if in earnest surrender to the forces of Mother Nature.

Something about this flower makes my heart leap. Of course the radiant vermillion red-crossing-saffron would as-if burn up anybody’s vision, but there’s more to it. They seem to have erupted almost overnight one day in the middle of last month. Suddenly all the buds burst open to sprout that flaming orange.

When I had just moved to this city, it was the bougainvillea, then there were the purple-flowered trees (whose name I evidently still don’t know), and now Gulmohar. If you were to walk a random by-lane in any part of this city, it will not be just grey buildings sans any natural façade that accompany you. there will always be trees. Traditional ones. Ashoka, Neem and Gulmohars. Also some Orchids – the large lavender flower variety.
The Gulmohar near my office!

But coming back to those flaming Gulmohars, there is one right outside the gates of my colony and another, about fifty feet from my office - quite visible from our parking lot, with a strategic grey background of the Citiotel's plasticky exteriors at the back, framed between a garage and an old house in which runs a nursery.

Flora interests me - for those who haven't noticed yet. Not just agriculture or horticulture, or trees or gardening. Leaves, petals, barks and branches, tendrils and ariels, dry leaves and new ones attract me. They tell me I'm alive. They acknowledge my presence. That I see them. Them, in their details. In their element. Even whilst constantly judged as someone who awaits that big moment, a gigantic canvas, to show appreciation. They give me heart.

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