It happens so many times, that a particular sight, smell or for that matter an experience registers itself as a part of good memories and every time association with such things transports us back to those happy old days, whether it was our childhood or youth. The days full of exuberance, enjoyable, jolly and of course the unforgettable days , the thought of which makes us nostalgic. Nostalgia has its own unique fragrance and sight, redolent of beautiful times. For instance, the thought and sight of rhododendrons makes me nostalgic, reminds me of the life spent on the hills.Having an opportunity of travelling to various places has helped me accumulate various experiences, but some places do leave an indelible mark on our memories, yes the imprint of certain places is for a lifetime in our minds.
Now residing in Lutyens Delhi with Nehru park in close vicinity, what more can one ask for? The Park abundant with Gulmohar, Amaltas, Silver Oak and even Pine trees. During Summers’ the sight of Fiery-Red Gulmohar and Golden-YellowAmaltasflowers is at zenith of its blooming and a sight worth- watching. But the hills still beckon me, i still miss the Beautiful ‘trail of rhododendrons, on a small stretch of road connecting Banikhet to Dalhousie. Rhododendrons – the flowers only found on hills, known for there multifaceted and multitasking abilities. Also known as Brass/Buransh ke phool in Hindi, well not to be confused with the metal called brass as apart from the name both hold no similarity. Rhodon means rose and dendron means trees in Greek language and as it combines to form ‘Rhododendron’ ,it becomes a Latin word meaning cluster of flowers. Some of palatable and some of poisonous variety.
Religious books describes this flower used by Gods/Goddesses, it is the state flower of Himachal and National flower of Nepal, there known as “LaliGuransh’.
Recently, when i received a parcel containing dried rhododendron flowers, sent by an old friend, the whiff and warm memories were re-kindled. The thought of flowers on the tall green trees glittering like the red rubies and some fallen fresh from the tree on the road side came to my mind. At times while driving back to my destination, the colour red appeared to be like the traffic light, wanting me to halt for few minutes and look at this mystical and magnificent hill flower. Yes, the flower also symbolises caution, warning and some varieties even have hallucinogenic and laxative effect, but what is visible to the eyes was pure delight to feast and indulge on the beauty. Many times parking my car on the road side i have got down to admire and feel it.
Now far away from the land of rhododendrons in a city where traffic jams make me wait for hours, out of choice, i miss that small trail of rhododendrons, the burst of various hues and shades of rhododendron colours, the chilling breeze, chirping birds, niche to the silent sentinels. The sunlight filtering through the rhododendron trees and deodars creating a combination of shade and darkness. The blood red flowers at the tree top peeping like a newly married hill bride from the corner of a window and the ones which have fallen like a springy turf underfoot carpet.
I still remember the tangy taste of the chutney prepared from these beautiful flowers which was like the smooth ride on a small stretch that surprised and challenged me with sharp turns and bend every time. The sight symbolic of caution as well the colour red indicating the time of jubilation, merriment , so very pristine. But receiving the dried buransh ke phool( dried rhododendron flowers) in the city which is far away from the serene and calm hills, has given me a reason to look back at happy times as well as a hope to look forward and visit the ‘trail of rhododendrons’ again. Joy de vivre.