Wednesday, June 4, 2008

More Mumbai summer

Bougainvillea. Photo by moi. If you'd like to use it for any reason, please let me know!

Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea brasilensis) is named after an eighteenth-century French navigator who discovered the colorful and very thorny vine in southern America. This would be the chap Diderot alluded to in his "Supplement to the Voyage of Bougainville", which was not really about travel but a critique of French society and politics.

The pink papery part isn't the real flower, the little white thingies are, although I've no idea on what basis botanists decide these things (if you do, please leave a comment). Based on the pictures I've seen of French colonies in the Indian Ocean and the Caribbean, and my own sojourn in Pondicherry, it seems French colonists liked to cheer up whitewashed architecture with pink, white, and deep orange variants of bougainvillea. And although Mumbai was never French territory, bougainvillea has always been part of my landscape here. It clung to a stretch of chicken wire along my school boundary, creating a shady canopy under which you could sit on the low garden wall. And there was also a big jumble of it in a corner of the garden around my parents' home. Sadly, that went when the railways took a strip of land from our landlord to widen the rail corridor. Can't think why the landlord didn't put it back inside the new property boundary, because it's pretty easy to grow. The photo above was taken on May 17, at the gates of the "haunted house" at the end of the street.

Photo of anthurium below, taken on the same day, outside the building next door to ours.

Anthurium. Photo by moi. If you'd like to use it for any reason, please let me know!

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