In Mumbai Again

After almost a year, I am in Mumbai the city in the vicinity of which I have spent more than 20 years of my life. I lived in Panvel where our company had constructed a huge accommodation. But most of the offices are in Mumbai and employees who live in Panvel have to spend at least 4 hours travelling to the work. There is though a trade off. In Panvel colony you have big area for walking and also lesser pollution. It is a gateway to Beautiful Konkan region as well as to Pune. There are a number of good natural spots nearby Panvel. We landed at Santacruz airport from Delhi. Temperature was 29C and as usual humidity was very high. The same stuffy weather which we have become attuned to during our long stay here. In fact, I loved this city for its oddities. But like Saleem and his sister in the Salman Rushdie‘s Midnights Children, I did not shouted back to Bom. We hired a taxi and soon we were lost in the sea of  people on the roads and vehicles. The familiar Udipi hotels, vegetable vendors on the roadside selling their vegetables and ubiquitous Coconut sellers and Koli women selling the sea fish, prawns were before eyes. There were same black and yellow taxis. Many new flyovers have come up in the city’s struggle to ease the traffic pressure. It seemed as if we have not got left the place for good and have been out of station.

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Some more memories of Ratnagiri

Although now I have gone far away from Panvel from where Ratnagiri was not far, the memories never die. Many times I have been to Goa where my son was studying, Ratnagiri was on the way and train halted there for sufficient time. I read about the city and particularly about the King of Burma Thibaw Minh who was confined to this place by the British after he lost the to battle to them and Burma was annexed to British empire. I don’t know how they thought to bring him and his family at such a distance away from his home. He was not old and his whole life was spent in Ratnagiri in a palace called Thibaw Palace. He was very much respected by the local people. Since his palace is located at a lofty place, he would sit with his binoculars and watch the Arabian sea and boats coming and going to the various landings. Area being the coastal, the main occupation of people was and is fishing. They waited for the fishing boats coming home. The king would announce the arrival of the boats as he was able to spot them through his binocular and people would then make for the landings.

English: Thibaw Palace, Residence of Burmese K...
English: Thibaw Palace, Residence of Burmese King exiled in Ratnagiri (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Also it was the habit of the King to visit the Bhagwati temple which was located on another hill. Only for this activity he went out. All this information excited me to visit the place and see for myself. So once we decided to visit the place while returning from Goa. This has been described in another entry. From here we went to see the Ganapati Pule which is religious place as well as a beautiful beach. In fact whole area possesses breathtaking beauty. There is blue Arabian sea and coconut groves. There are cashew trees growing in the wild and the world famous Alphonso mango tree orchards. Here are some beautiful pictures.

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English: Alphonso mango tree in a dense cultiv...
English: Alphonso mango tree in a dense cultivation orchard at Kotawade, Ratnagiri distirict, Maharashtra state, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cannonball tree

Whenever I saw these trees in my neighborhood, I was surprised by their odd features. These are very upright and very tall trees. There are four or five trees in our area at Panvel near Mumbai. There are big ball like fruits of khaki color hanging just below the main canopy, very near to the beginning of the trunk. Some of them are as big as musk melons. I am sure that if it hit someone who happens to be under the tree, it may cause a grievous injury. Ants gather on these fruits. Big shoots come out which are bend downward and have many buds of creamy color. Very beautiful pink color flowers come out of the buds.The flowers have six petals which are thick and waxy in nature. I did not know the name of the tree then.

Today, as I was passing underneath one of these trees on the roadside, I noticed that tree is in full bloom. There is strong fragrance all around. Bees are hovering on the flowers and enter the flower and fly over to another one. They are helping in the process of cross pollination.

After some search on the internet, I came to know that the tree is commonly called Cannon Ball tree because of those big and heavy ball like fruits. Its scientific name is Couroupita guianensis and it is said to the native of Brazil, a claim which may not be very true because in India these trees are growing for thousands of years.

The trees in India have various names according to the states of their habitat. It is called Shiva Kamal or Kailashpati. In Tamil it is called Nagalingam. All these names suggests a relation to Shiva. Due to this, these trees are revered and are found near the Shiva temples. The flower shape resembles the hood of Naga, a sacred snake. In Kannada it is called Nagalinga Pushpa and Mallikarjuna flowers in Telugu.  Even here, I saw many people gathering these flowers in the morning and upon asking told that these are offered to the God Shiva.

Buddhists also plant this tree at Buddhist temples. The fruits fall down with a great force when the stem is unable to bear its weight. It cracks on falling and emits a foul odor. The ants however like these fruits and gather within no time after the fruit has cracked and split apart.

Here are some pictures, I took with my htc mobile camera. I think you will like these.

A Visit to Kashid Beach

The coast of India adjoining the Arabian Sea looks on the maps like a moth eaten book page. All along the coast are numerous beaches. The region possess extraordinary physical beauty. There are small hills with very beautiful summits of varied shapes. Some look like a plateau while others like the sharp dagger like cliffs. Around Mumbai there are many good beaches. Farther you go away from the metropolis, the better are beaches.

One such beach is Kashid beach which is 110 kilometers away from Panvel, 160 kilometers from Mumbai and 35 kilometers from Alibaug which itself has many beaches around it. On the way are beautiful rivers, woods and idyllic life. There are coconut and betel-nut palms. Bamboo also grows all around. Other bushes and trees, the names of which I am ignorant about grow all around.

We visited the beach. There were so many visitors. On the beach sand is very clean and white. The waves were gentle and sun shimmered on the waters and water looked like  mercury. At other places where waves were absent, the water was beautiful green. There were horse rides as well horse drawn carts for joy rides. There were joy boats.

We took some pictures and these are shown here.

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Nature Captured

Presenting some pictures which capture the greenery and scenery around my dwellings in a place called Panvel situated near Mumbai in India. These are the months of Monsoon. Everything is drenched. The hills which were parched due to intense heat prior to the onset of rains, have worn the green outfit. Dust is washed from the leaves of trees which were wilting under the intense heat. Nature is celebrating and spawning the life. The frogs croak all night in the puddles of water. They mate and multiply.

Thick Clouds
It is about to rain
The Rill is Brimming
Greenery and Hills
Water and More Water
Beautiful Scenery
Resplendent Leaves
Wild Grass intense green
Grasses
More Grass
White Creamy Flower
Holding the flowers soaked in Dew
View from the roof

On the razor’s edge

There is a crossing in front of ONGC colony gate at Panvel on the old Mumbai Pune highway. Its purpose is to allow the safe passage to road users from colony to cross the highly busy main road while going in the Pune direction and coming from the office located opposite and from Panvel to enter colony. There are live signals on this crossing.

But your heart will start beating very fast and prayers will begin to be issued from your lips when you undertake any of the mentioned crossings. The time of signal is about 15 seconds. Even that is enough considering the small traffic as compared to the huge one on the highway. But no one on the highway heeds the signals. Worst offenders are the three wheelers and motorcycle drivers.

The situation is such that even in the green signal you will not be allowed to cross the road. Bus drivers of Mahrashtra state transport corporation with such heavy buses never bother to stop and have a look at the signal. When one breaks the signals others automatically follow.

The traffic police never posts anyone here for minding the traffic. They are seen here but not guiding and teaching the people but only booking the people for the incomplete documents. This exercise is always done just away from the signal and rule breakers slip away with impunity.

Although these pictures are not clear but they give enough indication about the fearless behavior of the drivers on the main highway. They disregard the traffic signals completely.

Not only that. There are big banners hoisted by all the political parties on all the corners of signal. These banners completely block the view on the road making the crossing even more perilous with the riders coming on the main road at neck breaking speeds. If you cross the road safely you consider yourself lucky. But luck is never the same for everyone. The need is to post a traffic constable on the regular basis and also educate the rural people who are major offenders.

Oriental Magpie Robin

I have noticed this bird many a times. They are particularly active during the evening when the light is barely present. They make very sweet sounds. The color of the feathers is black with white on sides and at the bottom side. It is slightly bigger than a house sparrow. Particularly it is very active in the evening catching the flying insects. If I am not wrong, I have heard their sounds at about two or three o’clock in the morning.

Little did I knew that this is the national bird of Bangladesh where it is called “Doel” rhyming with “Koel” the nightingale. It has been adopted due to its sweet singing. In fact, the bird belongs to passerine family which are perching birds and most of them are songbirds. That most of us take many birds, animals and trees for granted, we never care to know their names. Visually we know that it is a such and such type of tree: size, color of leaves and flowers, color of coat, beak and telons such like traits. The peasant does not know the names of many birds and animals living in the fields. This problem is very serious in cities where there is no way to know the names of trees on the roads because generally the trees are not named. Only in Dadar Mumbai I noticed the small metallic tags fixed to trees with the names prescribed on them.

My curiosity arose when an incident happened. There was a small baby of this bird which was floundering and was caught by an crow which are so mean and ruthless in killing and eating the weak and ill and injured. They are the efficient agents of Darwin for sparing only the fittest of the living beings like the nature. The fledgling was about to torn to shreds when luckily it escaped the clutches and fell on the ground. My wife who was looking at this drama, immediately rescued it and brought it to home. It was wounded in one leg and was not able to stand properly. We were at loss how to feed her something for its survival. I dipped its beak in the water and it reacted positively. Then I opened its beak and my wife put some water with a spoon. Then I thought that it must get some food but what?. We broke one egg and were able to push small quantity into its mouth. First night we left it as such in our bathroom. In between, we noticed that it was answering calls of its parents who were outside in the trees where they are the regular visitors. But during night we were worried about its survival. Next morning, we again gave it some food and wet its beak with water. Then we put it in a cardboard box in which we made some holes and placed this box outside in our balcony. Our surprise knew no bounds when we saw the strangest thing happening. In general, it is believed that the baby birds which are touched by humans are shunned by the parents. It proved to be totally myth. The parents located the child and began feeding it through the holes with insects. Whole day this went on. In the evening we purchased a cage from the market. It was very good cage but it proved useless for feeding. This was because the baby bird was sitting inside out of the reach and it would not budge from where it was sitting. It kept opening its beak and as the feeding failed the sharp noise of desperation was visible. We again had to put it the cardboard box.

In the night we brought it inside putting it into the cage. It was sleeping peacefully even as the lights were on. Due to care and feeding by its parents it became strong and there was great action it made inside the box to break free. In the next morning, I put it outside in the balcony and its parent began bringing the insects. It was making so strong efforts that it was coming half out of the hole. I began becoming ready for morning walk, but when before leaving for walk, I noticed that the bird has flown out. We looked for it in the outside trees where the marauding crows usually sit. After sometime we were relieved immensely when we noticed that it has joined its parents and was flying freely.

The bird is found throughout the world but most commonly in South Asia. It is not in the endangered list of birds but in Singapore its number has greatly declined.