NATURE is what we see,
The Hill, the Afternoon–
Squirrel, Eclipse, the Bumble-bee,
Nay–Nature is Heaven.
Nature is what we hear,
The Bobolink, the Sea–
Thunder, the Cricket–
Nay,–Nature is Harmony.
Nature is what we know
But have no art to say,
So impotent our wisdom is
To Her simplicity.
i kept seeing them, along road sides, near the farming fields, on the hillocks, here and there everywhere, standing upright canopied with more of that which one can never miss. Repletion can be boring but sometimes can also diffuse attraction. It is nature.
For people like me something intrinsic to my own nature which apart from attraction is inflicted with something even more... CURIOSITY. Cannot help being as curious as a cat. And so far my curiosity, which although has shown me both pleasant and unpleasant has not killed me. Not yet.
Therefore i had to stop by and know more. i started questioning around if someone knew something about the object of my attraction. Not to be deterred by the many negative replies i kept on my quest on that which had apart from attracting my attention had intrigued me enough with it's commonness. The elderly worker who partially satisfied me and in his own subtle way corrected me informed about the usefulness of that common wild one. In Kumaoni which was his mother tongue they call it Vasinga.
i had ventured close to Vasinga. Very close enough to touch it and not lick it and definitely to sniff it like a cat. Fragrant! the blossoms had a typical flowery smell.
So this is what the local people use to ripen the BANANAS with. Must inform, have to share...what is it that they use to ripen the fruits that we happily buy from the market. Wasn't it CARBIDE chunks... but why when nature has this...the very common growing like grass on it's own...the fragrant Vasinga...?
Mr Nandan Mehta had shown some keen interest in my curiosity and had plucked a branch off the shrub to find out and tell me it's better vernacular name. And while he disappeared for a few minutes inside the Forest Department outpost i took pleasure in some intense inspection of the blossoms.
My inspection also introduced me to the entire shrub in the area among which the tallest one was approximately 2 meters in height. The leaves were large and tapering to a peaky point. Also hairy on both sides. There were clusters of what looked like buds but i wouldn't be sure of that. Limited in my knowledge and just attentive towards the appearance an ignoramus like me could not tell buds from the fruits. Not in this case at least.
i returned to the flower again and was stunned by it's beauty and uniqueness.
The white flowers tinged with pink in it's panicles. The anthers purple in color. i was wondering if that other gentleman whom i met at Jim Corbett Home/ museum at Kaladhunghi and who was also the Chief Conservator of Forests Kumaon, if he was intrigued too when i had asked him the name of this Junglee (wild) beauty. For he looked uncertain. The fully uniformed forest guard standing in attention nearby was beckoned with a gesture. The guard who looked like a native had confirmed to what i had known till then. Nothing more to fully satisfy my curiosity. i wanted a proper name which could enable me to extract more of the one i had for want of an original started calling Junglee Beauty.
But feeling grateful nevertheless to Mr Paramjit Singh CCF Kumaon for helping me identify the flowering Silver Oak instead and about some tips on the safari that i was about to take i was hopeful to the brim of Mr Mehta short for Mr Nandan Mehta our nature guide.
Meanwhile was also having a good time. The unhurried time spent in waiting and just watching...
" Madam they are not sure but they are saying that it is CHLORODENDROM ! announced Mr Mehta hurrying towards me and gesticulating for me to get into the jeep as we ought to proceed on our filled with expectation jungle ride. Seating next to me and as our jeep moved along the jungle path he assured me, " Give me some time madam and I will let you know if it sure is chlorodendrom or not."
Mr Mehta may not have been sure of the name but was confident about the medicinal value of the shrub. As we moved along he told me about the usefulness of the leaves and roots and about it's Ayurvedic significance. The Kwath (decoction) bitter to taste made from the leaves are used to treat fever and parasitic worms in the intestines he said.
He regaled me with more during our jungle ride and both my husband and me were very impressed by his knowledge not only about the flora and fauna but also of his mechanical skills. We watched him in action on using his knowledge to start a broken down vehicle. Our own jeep which had just stopped suddenly.
" The Self needs to be replaced...take it out and let's push the jeep to start it..." said Mr Mehta to Naim our jeep driver for the day. i was wanting to disembark the jeep when it had to be pushed to which he had exclaimed, " No! no! madam no need to do that, please remain seated..."
As i sit to write about nature and all my findings i am sensing gratitude for those nice and warm people i met who in one way or another contributed to my understanding. Starting with
- Mr Bal Kishan our cab driver who gave us a very comfortable and entertaining Xylo happy feet ride from Delhi to Corbett also the local name for Ruddy Shelduck- SONPATARY and Cormorant- JALKAUWWA...,
- enterprising young boy Mr Bharat and his senior Mr Kuldeep at the reception of the resort who were ever so willing to accommodate us into not only the best available room at such a short notice but also somehow arrange two seats for us in the already full jungle safari...,
- the waiter at the restaurant of the resort Mr Amar Pal who courteously obliged us with whatever food we asked for even if it meant a special a la carte and snacks like chilli potato/ paneer or some vegetable fritters at peak hour when he had to cater to all the visitors who preferred the resorts' buffet...,
- our two drivers on two separate safaris Mr Chandan Singh for the post lunch safari, and Mr Naim during the early morning safari with their honest and sincere intent to make us see the unusual...,
Mr Paramjit Singh CCF and his staff, the one who confirmed my finding of the local name and another perhaps his junior officer who told me about the book where i might find all details about the shrub...,
-the happy vacationing families i had the opportunity to meet...,
- and last but not the very least Mr Mehta.
For it was with Mr Mehta's Chlorodendrom that i managed to arrive at what i was desperate to know.
It may not be Chlorodendrom but Clererodendrum viscosum but how does it matter. That i got to know what i ought to know and experience what i have always wanted shouldn't that be more than enough !
i guess not for me. For more than being curious i am an 'apt conversationalist'. So said my school year book once upon a time. The editor wanting to be polite in her adjectives on describing my talkative nature. i am just that. Wanting to talk about all, share about common and special, about what goes unnoticed and what catches the hearts' fancy, about what i'd rather go without and what i always crave...
So if one's able to read me well enough then perhaps like Emily Dickinson would have poetic words to describe my nature and me which wants to be helpful too. Maybe not to the extent that Clerodendrum does or for that matter all plants in nature do. This one for instance apart from ripening the bananas is a panacea for helminthiasis, abscesses, tumors, skin diseases, hernia, fever, malaria...and probably more.
Nevertheless i sincerely hope that my ramblings come of use and that someone, somewhere gets benefitted by it.
"Nature does nothing uselessly." - Aristotle