Mumbai has banished Bakul. No doubt about it. I haven’t seen this tree in Thane. I do not remember seeing it in Mumbai too.
My first meeting with this tree was at ‘Limaye Wada’ in Hanuman Alley at Pen, my hometown. It was a huge tree. You can’t mistake it for any other tree because of its small and fragrant flowers. This is one tree where my eyes scan the ground. You get very fragrant flowers and some fruits on the ground.
I came out of Labour Court in Guwahati and walked down to the main road. As I approached the main street, I spotted Bakul! It wasn’t a big tree there, it had grown to the height of about ten feet. Bakul was planted in front of a shop, so I went to the shop keeper, and asked the name of the tree. ‘Bokol’ the Assamese shop keeper said!
A few years later I visited Kolkata. My hotel was not too far from Victoria Memorial. I went there for my morning walk. That garden has at least ten big Bakul trees. The one close to the gate is a very big tree. There were some fruits lying on the ground, I picked up one or two and quickly put them in my mouth, afraid that people might recognise me.
I realised that I was a stranger in Kolkata, just as Bakul has now become one in Mumbai.
Vivek S Patwardhan
[Pic courtesy internet]