Friday, December 31, 2010

Palmyra Palm- Standing Tall

A bunch of Palmyra palm trees are snapped above on the foothills behind the swimming pool. Palmyra is Borasus Flabellifer; the fruit has leather-like skins and the palm fronds end up in large fans. The ripe fruit pulp is an ingredient for cakes and when the fruit is tender, it yields a sweet core like coconut filled with water. A beautiful tree that illuminates the landscape.

This palm also yields good quality sugar. In many places, producing palm sugar is a cottage industry. The sap of this tree is fermented and made into toddy.

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa

The Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa is one of the most important Churches in India. The church houses the naturally preserved body of St. Francis Xavier. The Church was consecrated in 1605.
St. Francis Xavier was born in the Xavier Castle in the Kingdom of Navarre in 1506 and passed away in 1552, with a very committed life. He spent a substantial part of his life in Sri Lanka and Indonesia as a Jesuit Priest.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Noli me tangere: Mimosa Pudica

One of the common names for Mimosa Pudica is touch- me-not. A favourite with children, the compound leaves of this herb close in once touched. The Spanish common name for it is Dormidera. The closed leaves reveal the thorn in the plant to resist browsing cattle. Even otherwise, the leaves are not eaten by grazing animals.

The above images are taken by the river bank of Mahanadi. In the first photograph above, the leaves are have closed after I touched the plant. The root of the plant works as an anti-venom for cobra bite. New chemotherapeutic properties are also extracted from this plant. Mimosine from Mimosa Pudica is used for its antiproliferative properties in the treatment of ovarian cancer. The pink cotton ball like flowers look very attractive on the green leaf-beds.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Rosalia de Castro's Siesta

I first came across the poems of Rosalia de Castro in 1976 while going through a book in the library. One poem which moved me the most was given the title of "Siesta", by the translator, John Frederick Nims.

The poem deals with a mother's daily life as she deals with her clamorous children at siesta time. Mothers all over the world, wake up early, make tea and breakfast for the family. They send the children to school and the man of the family to work. Then it is time for lunch. Through all this hard work they might need a little sleep in the after noon. The mother gets angry with the playful children, but then immediately she repents as she scatters the children away, like the "beads of a broken rosary." The poem starts describing children playing:

Aquel romor de cántigas e risas,
ir, vir, algarear;
aquel falar de cousas que pasaron
i outras que pasarán;
aquela, en fin, vitalidade inquieta
xuvenil, tanto mal
me fixo, que lles dixen:
"Ivos e non volvás."

J.F.Nims translates the poem with a lot of skill:

Now all that sound of laughter, sound of singing,
going, coming, happy stir!
that talk of Know what happened? What's about to?
the breathless Have you heard?
all of that bright vitality, so restless,
of boys and girls
- too much to bear. I begged
"Please leave me. Don't return."

When the children go away, the poet describes the scene as the "beads of a broken rosary rolled and scattered across the floor."

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Most Serene Beings

Two puppies sleeping in the street late in to the morning, stopped me on my way. When and where they would get their next meal? A little worry is already there on their tender faces, but then, in their sleep, these wonderful beings are billionaires.