The scented Rangoon Creeper in Bangalore, India

The scented Rangoon Creeper in Bangalore, India

Almost 5 years ago,the scented Rangoon Creeper or as Mum called it the QuisQualis (Combretum indicum), was planted when the building was brand new. Mum always called plants by their Latin name along with Dad, which I would laugh at and called affected, but now, it has come in handy when I moved into Science and Environment journalism. Everything has to be named by the common name and then the Latin in brackets. My 12 years with the Hindu and Terra Green has fine tuned it.

Over the years the plant grew and was tied to the Gulmohur tree, near the wet waste pit. However it did not flower. And that really bothered me but I waited patiently feeding it compost and watching it grow.

It was annoying as my friends have such massive creepers that climb all the way up their walls and have a curtain of flowers which scent up the place. Infact we had a New Year party on Sneha’s ( friend no 1.) terrace and we sat in her gorgeous terrace garden on the thick lawn ( I kid you not) and backed the creeper. We ate tiger prawns and tandoori chicken against this divine, scented floral cascade. Sneha still has it-- as gorgeous as ever.

The other day I went to see the brand new flat of my other friend Erica. Beautiful place which sadly she shifted into after her husband suddenly died in a car crash. We chatted and exchanged books, after I had a lovely cup of Elaichi chai and was wishing her goodbye when she said,” Come! I know you love flowers, see this creeper of mine, it has reached the roof of the building.”

I stood open-mouthed at this massive creeper which had climbed to the top of her apartment block and was a mass of delightful pink, deep pink and white flowers which hung downwards in massive bunches, had climbed right to the top of five floors!

Drat! I thought as I walked home. How come ours is so hopeless and dead looking with not a single flower on it? I tried everything from compost , to digging around it’s roots, checking online what we were doing wrong and then gave up. Probably not enough sun I thought and that aussauged my irritation.

Then came the lock down and in weeks one bunch showed and then the second and now dozens of the most fragrant blooms have festooned the creeper. That’s funny I thought, there has to be a reason for the flowers after so many years.

Then it struck me. Every two weeks the water softener guy arrives, to swirl around a sack of thick rock salt to ostensibly soften our bore-well water. Once his job is done he pours out the water along with the salt right where the poor plant is growing. Of course he will swear that he does not, but the flowers are proof of his actions.

For now COVID 19 is giving all of nature some respite and I am so glad. I have been writing about how destructive man is and that one day Nature will fight back. Well it happened sooner than later. One swipe at the knees and all have run into their cubby holes, while nature has the last laugh.

Man has always believed himself to be superior over nature. She does not care what we believe, because when we get too much for her, she calmly hits where it hurts the most. I am sure there is more to come, BUT for now I am glad the QuisQualis is flowering, at least for a few weeks.

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