KING’S LIPSTICK

The Palm Family, Areceacae, encompasses a vast range of Plants including The Toddy Palm and the Coconut. ( do check out  previous blogs titled THE ENCHANTING WORLD OF NUTS & INDIAN NUT to know more ) .

Two Common Names of the Unique Palm you see in the Featured Image,  The Rajah Wax Palm or Lipstick Palm  ( English) collectively combined to give me the Title of this blog. Rajah means King in Hindi

The Lipstick Palm bears no Fruit , Flowers .or Timber and is cultivated Primarily for its Aesthetic Appeal or simply put; its Looks.

colours.jpg
Stunning Looks

Cyrtostachys renda ( Scientific name) is a Tall Tree  introduced  from Indonesia and is widely cultivated in Gardens across Kerala, India as a decorative Plant.

The Characteristic Scarlet or Red Coloured Central Shaft or Mid Rib gives this Palm Tree several interesting names such as Red Sealing Wax Palm , Lipstick Palm and The Rajah Wax Palm.

hidden red
Lipstick Red at the centre of Feathery Leaves

If you recall Proclamations in Former Times were always made Legal with a  Royal Seal .

In India even today many Legal Packages/Letters are sealed using Lac or the Red Sealing Wax.

The Red Wax on which the Royal Seal was embedded  was the same Scarlet Colour as The CrownShaft of the Rajah /Sealing Wax Palm.

Fascinating how  common names and history combine to make these Palms Enchanting, which but for the Red Lipstick would go unnoticed.

Pictures above were taken at THE UDAY SUITES, Trivandrum and THE MAHINDRA RESORT, Ashtamudi. Both these Lovely Resorts  are in Kerala, India.

CHIKOO

The Golf Ball Sized “Chikoo”is a Delicious  Ultra Sweet Fruit when Ripe .

Am familiar with the fruit from my childhood as it is widely available across the Country .

The “Chikoo” Tree in my House is  however no more than a gnarled shrub and has never borne even a Bud let alone the tasty  Fruit.

Little did I know this fruit was unknown to Asia and in particular the Indian Sub Continent till as late as the 15th century, as it was introduced from The Americas to Europe ( read Spanish) and then to India.

A handsome evergreen Tree bearing numerous “Chikoo” fruits spotted at the Uday Suites in Trivandrum, Kerala.

fruit on a tree
Brown balls on a Tree

Sapodilla ( English), Chikoo ( Hindi) , Manilkara zapota ( Scientific name) is what the dull Brown Golf ball sized fruits are known as .

The Brown Skin of the Fruit needs to be peeled to reveal the insides which are Fleshy & Sweet. Multiple Glossy Black seeds are embedded in the Fleshy part of the Fruit.

But Beware if had Raw, your mouth will get all puckered up.

Originally from Central America the Plant bears small White Flowers , one of which you can see in the picture below.

bud and fruits
Thorn on the Head

Surprisingly the same tree which bore White flowers and the “Chikoo fruit” was also bearing Red buds. Can someone explain this mysterious behaviour??

red buds
Red Buds??

The “Chikoo” Fruit is a Rich source of antioxidants and also  helpful in curing ailments like  Rheumatoid Arthiritis.

It is no surprise  “Ayurveda”  makes no mention of the fruit or any of its Health benefits as the fruit was unknown to the Ancient Indians in 1500 BCE.

Am Enchanted to see Fruit Trees as they reveal so much which remains secret till you attempt to peel the layers and LOOK.

MAMMOTH TASK

Lying down maybe a simple task for most Animals including us Humans, however it is a HERCULEAN TASK for these Giants.

I will not dwell further on the Location or the Genus etc as these can be read in previous posts titled MAMMOTH BATH and BABY ELEPHANTS.

Trace the moves in the pictures that follow to see  what a MAMMOTH TASK it is for this Splendid Tusker to simply Lie down on it’s Back.

getting ready
The Tusker puts a fotr forward for a  Shower

On One Knee Like a Knight in Grey.

how to turn
One Knee Down

Half way Down and holding onto it’s Tusk for support ?

two legs down
On Two Knees

What a relief, finally  I can stretch my Back says Surender the 17 year old Tusker.

tusker and trunk
Finally in Position to Lie Down

We are so beset by our own Woes that we forget to see how Difficult Life can be for Others.

 

GOING BANANAS

The Featured Image speaks volumes for the mind boggling varieties of Bananas in Kerala, India.

A Plantain Field off the coast of Kerala near Poovar ( do read up earlier posts titled RIVER OF FLOWERS, TRANQUIL MERGER and TRANQUIL WATERS)

plantain plantation
SUN AND FRESH AIR

Bananas or Plantains ( English), Kela ( Hindi), Musa balbisiana  ( Scientific Name) are a Complete Food rich in Potassium.

The Banana Plant ( not Tree)  is  native to the Indian subcontinent and belongs to the  banana family Musaceae.

Bananas can be consumed as a Fruit when ripe or  even as a Vegetable in the Raw State.

bunch of bananas
WHORLS OF BANANAS

Kerala also known as God’s Own Country is home to varies varieties of Bananas.

The famous Banana Chips of Kerala are a delicious treat, especially when eaten warm.

The Large Leaves of the Banana Plant are used throughout Southern India even today as Eco-friendly Plates. A wonderful tradition kept alive.

truck of bananas
OFF TO THE MARKET

Enchanted by Bananas in Kerala  ??

BLEEDING TREES

Once Upon a Time ,Wild Deer , Elephants and Tigers would have roamed these Hills now overtaken by domesticated Cattle and numerous “Crying Trees “.

The Para Rubber Tree ( English), Hevea brasinlliensis ( Scientific name)  was first planted in India by the British  from the Americas ( Brazil in South America)  in the early 20th Century .They felled the Naturally Occurring Rainforests and replaced them with Rubber Plantations to harvest Natural Latex. ( this act was replicated across South East Asia as well )

A  Rubber Plantation on the slopes of the Western Ghats in District Pathnamthitta, Kerala, India as it exists today after over 100 years.

This Plantation is close to the  Konni Elephant Rescue Centre  mentioned in previous blogs titled BABY ELEPHANTS and MAMMOTH BATH.

miles of rubber
Rubber Trees replaced Rainforests

The Rubber Trees in Plantations across Kerala are native to the Amazonian Rain forests and a  rich Natural Source of Rubber.

The trees are wounded by repeated Cuts to release a Milky latex which is collected in Coconut Shells.

Is it a wonder they are  called “Caotchoue” by the Native Americans which literally translates to Crying Tree.

bleeding
Bleeding and Bandaged Trees

As you can see in the picture above there are several angled cuts on the Trunks of the trees.

Vast Lands which once supported an astonishing range of Flora of Fauna were laid waste and replaced by Rubber Plantations to commercially harvest Natural Rubber which oozes from the Core of these Crying Trees.

The Milky Latex is collected in little Cups made from Coconut Shells.

drop by drop
Collection of the Sap

First the Rainforests were felled and replaced by Plantations, then the forest dwellers like the Elephants chained and finally the Trees were made to Bleed.

I understand that the closest competitor to Natural Rubber is Synthetic Rubber which is derived from Petroleum. Thus when the prices of Crude Oil fall so do the prices of Rubber.

As we all know Crude Oil prices are scraping the bottom of the Barrel and that spells a death Knell for the Rubber Plantations as well.

Is this the Revenge of the Bleeding Trees ?

 

BRAHMINY KITE

The Backwaters of Kerala provide the perfect Home to these Gorgeous Rust and White Birds Of Prey.

Coastal Plains, Estuaries, Marshes, Swamps , Lakes and Rivers describe the Landscape of Poovar and Ashtamudhi ,Kerala, India .( do see the pictures in earlier posts titled THE OCTOPUS LAKE and TRANQUIL WATERS)

These wetlands are the Native Habitat of The Brahminy Kite or Red Backed Eagle ( English), Haliastur indus ( Scientific name) which you will see Soaring above in the Skies along the entire Coast of Kerala.

kite on coconut
Razor’s Edge

The distinctive White Head and Rust Back make them extremely easy to identify. The photographs were taken from a Boat and the one below is of a Brahminy Kite perched high above on a Coconut Tree. ( you can see the Coconuts on the right)

I am not sure what has Ruffled the Feathers of the Kite but it seems to have it,s eyes fixed on something.

It is a soft photograph and a bit out of focus but am sharing it nevertheless as I find the silhouette and colouration of the Beak rather extraordinary.

ruffled feathers
Ruffled Feathers

From my experience Poovar is an excellent area for Bird Watching as the Foliage is extremely Dense and forms a Canopy over a maze of narrow and calm water Channels.

Thus when you are on a boat you could Spot a Bird perched on a Branch which arches above the waters.

It was the first time I saw a Juvenile Brahminy Kite so close at hand permitting the following picture to be taken.

You can clearly see the Head and Chest of the Teenager Brahminy Kite are still not Snow White as in the Adult.

juvenile
The Juvenile Brahminy Kite

THE PROPHESY

“In Asia, from the Peninsula where Three Seas Meet , Comes the Ruler to whom Thursday is Holy, His Wisdom and Might all Nations will Greet, to Oppose him will be Folly Indeed.”

Am Overawed by the above prophesy of the famous 16th century European Seer we know as Nostradamus . The Prophesy was posted in similar but not exactly the same words by my friend Ranjit Devraj on my facebook account yesterday after he had seen my Post titled “Lost at Sea”.

The featured image above is the Southern Tip of the Indian Peninsula where  Three Seas Meet. It is called the Vivekananda Memorial Rock at Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu ,India .

the Indian Ocean
Land gives way to the THE THREE SEAS

The Ancient & Holy City of Kanyakumari is located between the Cardamom Hills and the Vast Seas. The Catholic Church seen in the picture below however preaches Sunday to be  Holy.

kanyakumari Church
Our Lady Of Ransom Church at the Tip of India

The name Kanyakumari is however  derived from the Virgin Goddess in the Hindu Pantheon. The temple in the picture below at Kanyakumari  is dedicated to the Goddess Parvati who slays an Evil Demon fulfilling a prophesy.

To date the majority ( over 80%) in India are Hindus and Thursday is a Holy Day on which certain  deities are worshiped across the  country.

The Temple
The Temple at Sea

Am fascinated how a Prophesy could so accurately describe a region I was blogging about hundreds of years ago.

Believe Him or Not, Nostradamus has me Spellbound. Thank you Ranjit.

LOST AT SEA

When you stand at the End all you experience is The Vast Oceans and Seas till as far as the eye can see.

Standing at the tip of  Southern India at the Vivekananda Memorial Rock at Kanyakumari am overwhelmed by the Vast Oceans and Seas that stretch beyond the Horizon.

vast ocean
The Vast Indian Ocean and Beyond

As the Crow flies there is no land mass between Kanyakumari, the last Indian Town of Southern India , and The Ice Continent Antarctica.

Only the waters of The Laccadive Sea and the Indian Ocean separate the Indian Sub continent and Antarctica.

a mere speck
A Mere Speck

With the Indian Ocean to the South, the Bay of Bengal to the East, the Arabian Sea to the West and Monsoon Clouds in the Skies above, the tiny  Blue Fishing Dhow is happy to scurry home to the Indian Land mass in sight.

Blue Dhow
Land In Sight

“Kanyakumari”  is a Spectacular Coastal Town  steeped in Mythology and History.

As I gazed out at the Never ending Waters on all Sides  I was simply “Lost at Sea“.

BABY ELEPHANTS

The Adorable Babies you see in the Pictures in the Blog are of two orphans who were rescued by the Forest Department from the Konni Forest of Kerala.

The Large Wooden Cage you see in the background  called Aanakoodu in Malayalam ( the local language in Kerala)  is the current home of these Babies located in the Elephant Rescue Centre in Konni,Pathanamthitta District, Kerala.

elephant out
Seems Thoughtful or Maybe Sad ?

A Large Open Enclosure outside the Aanakoodu  is the Play Ground for these Baby Elephants who seem to enjoy  the freedom from their respective cages.

fun time
Play Pen

A She Elephant was also rescued from a nearby forest , but her heavy metal chains and her reaching out to me (for Help ? ) make me wonder if they are Really Happy being Rescued.

Observe Her Eyes in the picture below, they seem to Speak Volumes. What do you read??

mamma elephant
Rescued ???

Have posted a blog titled MAMMOTH BATH from this very Rescue Centre a few days ago with pictures of a Tusker having a Bath, who was also in Chains.

I wonder what Ominous Futures hangs over the Baby Elephants who will be used by the Forest Department to promote what is labelled ECOTOURISM.

Tourist will Ride on these Elephants after being trained by a process which is both Cruel and Torturous.

 

PAPAYA

There are so many things we assume and take for granted, for example the fruit Papaya.

It was during a recent trip to Kerala that a Middle Aged Journalist asked our Tour  guide to Show her the difference between a Banana and a Papaya tree.

It did bring a smile to my face then  but I now think that there are millions ( the readers of these blogs however are  well informed and do not fall into this category am sure) who would never have seen how the Fruits they devour daily Grow.

Thus prompted I bring to you the Superfruit “Papaya” or Pawpaw ( English), Papita (Hindi), Carica papaya  (Scientific Name).

green stems.jpg
The Papaya Tree

This is an unusual young one with Red Petioles.

The Papaya Fruit is an All Season Fruit and if included in your daily diet will keep many a dreaded ailment at bay. It is a great Laxative as well.

red stems
Too Little to bear Fruits

Distinctive Large Maple Like Leaves are a  clear give away characteristic  of the Papaya Tree. The Juice of the leaves is a Life saver for those infected by the life threatening and dreaded  Dengue fever.

The small off white Flowers appear to be Male flowers as they are tubular and away from the main Trunk. . The Papaya Tree can bear only Male or Female Flowers but some bear both on the same tree.

leaves and flowers
Distinctive Large Leaves and  Small Flowers

The featured image depicts  relatively Small papaya trees dwarfed by a Countryside dominated by towering Coconut trees.

Am amazed how this Native of Mexico or the Americas developed such Deep Roots  in India that 50% of the World’s Papayas are now produced here.

Fascinating is it not ?  Do share your Fruity experiences.