Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A rain tree of memories

The post SUMMER BEAUTY in Raji's Ramblings reminded me of a similar tree we had at Olavipe. There is nothing much to write about it except that it was there, on the western ‘muttam’ (courtyard) and it is a part of my childhood memories.

Presented below for identification is the photo of a rain tree (Samanea saman, also known as monkeypod) I took in Chennai. Raji’s post has some better images including a beautiful one of its flower.

As children we didn’t know the name of the tree. We called it ‘thanal maram’, meaning shade tree. And shade it did give. The sprawling canopy effectively blocked the sun rays except a few that filtered through. But it didn’t obstruct the west wind because the branching started at a height of 20 feet or so. Probably the lower branches were pruned when the tree was young.

Sometimes we used to climb the tree despite the warning that the branches were not very strong. To my knowledge however, no one has ever fallen off the tree. Anyway, for children scrambling up a low mango tree was definitely better than climbing the rain tree. (See: Mango Memories)

Those days there were carpenter families traditionally attached to us. They were free to work for others also. They would leave a set of tools at our place and come over when there was no employment elsewhere. They would find a job to do, some repair work, or make furniture whether it was required or not, or carve out a toy boat or the like.

The carpenters loved working under the shade of the rain tree instead of using the ‘thadippura’ (wood store) which was the place meant for them. The cool shade of the tree and the breeze that blew in from the Olavipe Lake were irresistible.

Among them, Paramu was the one we liked to have around most. He was small made, but fair and handsome and a fine person. And he had a never ending stream of stories. The elders used to joke that for every hour of work he would talk for two hours. But it was worth having him there. In his work he was a perfectionist.

The only people who disliked the rain tree were perhaps the women who swept the courtyard every morning. I believe the reason was that the pieces of dry flowers that fall to the ground get embedded in the sand. It was a difficult to clear them away.

Today there is a Prior mango tree near the spot where the rain tree once stood so proudly in full bloom. See the photo by Dr. Sanjay Parva below:

The wall like structure that you see on the right is the back of the
Cool stones

Click on photos to enlarge.

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