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
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.
Labels: Litchi, Lychee, Nostalgia