Memories on Trees: Litchi
Litchi trees are not seen in Maharashtra. Obviously it is not their natural habitat. Litchi is my favourite fruit, and the only complaint I have is that it is rather expensive. Litchis taste very different and delicious if you eat them in Kolkata. I have not had the opportunity to taste it in Bihar. Mumbai gets its quota of litchis, but the fruit loses something essential on the way from Bihar to Mumbai.
I was always very curious about litchis. Amita Maheshwari told me that there were Litchi trees in the backyard of her parent’s home in Bihar. A deal was struck then to go there during the Litchi season. But the visit never happened.
My first sighting of a Litchi tree was memorable. I noticed a tree in the Pagoda [Dhamma Giri] at Igatpuri where I had gone for Vipassana meditation. Vipassana meditation involves ten days of ‘maun’ [silence, no speaking or communication whatsoever] to be observed. You can only kill the free time by observing clouds and trees. This Litchi tree was close to my room. For a few days I mistook that tree for a mango tree. Then suddenly I noticed a bunch of Litchis on the tree! I was excited!! [Maun prevented me from sharing this joy with anybody, Oh, what a torture!]. I had found the tree I wanted to meet. And I felt ashamed of my capacity to make accurate observation – you can’t offer any excuse for not noticing the litchis for three days. That was in 1996.
Twenty years later, that is to say, two days ago I met a Litchi tree – nah, a few trees in a farm near Dahanu. I identified it correctly when asked by the Farm owner – on this occasion I had not mistaken it for mango tree.
Out came my camera. I took some photographs of Litchi flowers, I was feeling so excited to meet this tree unexpectedly. The tree would bear litchis later. This was like meeting an old friend after a long time but who did not have enough time to sit down and chat with you over a coffee. Yet you feel the warmth of the friendship.
Litchis will taste sweeter this summer.
Vivek S Patwardhan
Hi Vivek kaka,
You should visit Dehradun in end may or early June when the Litchi trees are laden with sweet, juicy fruit. My in-laws have half a dozen of them in their garden and a litchi orchard in front of their bungalow…. They will be very happy to host you and you will get to eat as many litchis as you want…. The house is full of ltihcis during the season and no one to eat them… We are unfortunate that we can't visit Dehradun at that time of the year to enjoy the home grown litchis.
Sir love how you refer to trees as individuals. Great penning down of experience!!!