Thursday, April 30, 2015

Blooming Trees

As monsoon grows closer, India "greens up". Right now it seems that just about every tree is in bloom.

Jacarandas along Gunjan bazaar
One thing that has surprised me is how tropical trees have been spread across the world. India is full of trees from Brazil and Africa that arrived many centuries ago. The widely-planted jacaranda (above) is from Brazil.

The sausage tree is a transplant from Africa. The flowers open at night, then fall off by morning. The flower cluster above has mostly bloomed, but you can see a remaining flower bud at the left. The name of the tree comes from the large sausage-shaped fruits that hang on the tree for many months.
The dark red sausage tree flower. I picked up this one from the ground under the tree and brought it home for identification. There's no other tree with a flower even close to this!
Originally native to Madagascar, the gulmohur (also known as flame tree and poinciana) is found throughout India.
Another gulmohur blooming in Vapi.
Amaltas (also known as Indian laburnum) is a showy native tree.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Something there is that doesn't love a wall
   — Robert Frost, "Mending Wall"

But in India, everyone loves a wall -- and not the low crumbling wall of Frost's poem, but high brick-and-cement walls that hide everything behind them and block both views and passage.

Over the last four months, additional walls have appeared in our "society" (neighborhood). Walking into town has now become less convenient, as the best route is now blocked by an 8-foot high wall.

Good fences make good neighbors is the other famous line from that poem. One fragment seems particularly relevant to India:
Why do they make good neighbors? Isn't it
Where there are cows? But here there are no cows.
Before I built a wall I'd ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
In India, walling out is the dominant mode. No offence given or taken. Certainly cows are walled out, as opposed to walled in. Inside the wall is a sense of privacy and comfort, at the expense of viewing the outside world. Fortunately, our bungalow has an iron fence rather than a full wall. But that is the exception.

In the photo above, the new wall is in the foreground. It makes a dead-end out of what was once a difficult-to-traverse, but open, road. The middle section was completed earlier this year, and the left-most segment appeared while we were gone in December. The biggest rationale is that the road you see is the service road along NH8 -- the busiest highway in India, connecting Mumbai and Delhi. (Think "I-95".)

Just before I left in early April, the wall in the photo below was built across another access road into our society (photo below). The building on the left has been under construction for at least 2 years, and this access point was blocked by construction materials, construction worker living quarters, and a large ditch. It was passable on foot, but not by vehicle. With the completion of the exterior of the building, the road was improved, and became vehicle-ready. So I guess that's why the wall went up.

At least this wall has a pedestrian access point. I think that's because the owners of the hospital whose parking lot this accesses, live in our society.

(And in case you're wondering, there is one remaining access road into our society, but it has been turned into a "cul-de-sac" rather than having through-access.)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Appalachian Spring

I leave to go back to India tomorrow. That's tough, because spring with its delicate colors is my favorite time of year in the southern Appalachians. Right now, the landscape changes daily as the trees flower and set out new leaves.

Today's view from our kitchen table. Just a week ago, this was all brown and leaf-less.
It's been cold. Yesterday I went to Gaudineer Knob in West Virginia. At 4300 ft (1325 m), it is much higher than our home in Virginia, and our light rain was a snowfall at this elevation.
The dramatic view from Gaudineer Knob.
Flowering dogwood (a tree) is the state flower of Virginia. It's in full bloom right now.
White dogwood blossoms blend with emerging red oak and green dogwood leaves.

I love spring!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Virginia USA

It's been a while since I've made a post. I've been back in the US for a bit more than 2 weeks now.

April is spring: erratic weather and lots of green happening.

Dramatic clouds ...
… and a rainbow after the storm.
"Pot o' gold" anyone?
My favorite view in all of Alleghany County -- near the top of North Mountain on I-64.
A particularly brilliant blue jay feather.