This is the tree I’d call Flame of the Forest only to realize very recently that that one is a different tree. This one’s just good ol’ Gulmohar or simply Flame Tree. Its name finds its origins in Persian: gul rose, flower + muhr seal. I love the Gulmohar’s distant cousin the Peacock flower a teeny-weeny bit more but I’ll leave my paeans to the red-peach-yellow flowers for another time.
When I tried to photograph the Gulmohar lined streets of Indiranagar, I almost got pulled over by the cops who’d parked themselves right under a tree near Toit. Never ones to be short on self-importance, they thought I was photographing them!
Earlier today in Frazer Town, I saw a man with a henna’d beard the color of gulmohar blossoms standing against a majestic Albizia Saman. All I could think of after that was funeral pyres, bonfires and the castor plants on fire by the railway line yesterday- licks of fire jumping out to touch the sky and then just as quickly the grey smoke as if the ice blue coldness of had killed the fire’s ambition. Slow down you crazy child, you’re so ambitious for a juvenile.
I’m not alone in waxing poetic about these fireballs reaching for the sky. Sarojini Naidu couldn’t stop herself from writing a poem In Praise of Gulmohar Blossoms either:
What can rival your lovely hue
O gorgeous boon of the spring?
The glimmering red of a bridal robe,
Rich red of a wild bird’s wing?
Or the mystic blaze of the gem that burns
On the brow of a serpent-king?
What can rival the valiant joy
Of your dazzling, fugitive sheen?
The limpid clouds of the lustrous dawn
That colour the ocean’s mien?
Or the blood that poured from a thousand breasts
To succour a Rajput queen?
What can rival the radiant pride
Of your frail, victorious fire?
The flame of hope or the flame of hate,
Quick flame of my heart’s desire?
Or the rapturous light leaps to heaven
From a true wife’s funeral pyre?