Every evening, around 4p.m, my husband and I take a break from our laptops and go for a walk. Part of it is also because our hitherto elegant pine tree like waistlines are slowly resembling the more rounded trunks of peepal trees. All said and done, the walks are mandatory because we never want to take this special place for granted.
I stop to take a breath and to admire the subtle landscaping that nature manages so easily. Amongst the lush, green of the mountain wall, there are 2-3 different shades of white leaves and flowers with just a hint of yellow. A large Mormon butterfly flies by and I am happy to identify it. On its wing steps, follows a small bird that I have never seen before. It is dark blue with a streak of scarlet. Of course, I am mesmerised!
The bird and I introduce ourselves. The bird is a Scarlet Backed Flower Pecker. It knows exactly where I live and how I am an outsider and a novice trying to earn my place on the hills. It haughtily tells me that I am very foolish and unaware of the treasures that are under my nose. A little bugged with this over-smart chit of a bird, I challenge it and ask it to prove its silly theories.
The bird tells me that in my drive in, there is a rare plant which has a large bud on it. I told the smart aleck that I was very well-aware of it and that the bud was in fact the flower and it looked quite pretty. The Flower Pecker laughed to my face. Taking pity on my mortified expression,it advised me to listen carefully.
At night, once it gets dark, I was told, I should go to the ordinary looking, large bud and wait for the magic. If I should forget for some reason, the moment will be lost.
Although I did not believe the impudent birdbrain, I checked the much-acclaimed plant at night only to prove Mr Know-It-All wrong. What an incredible experience awaited me! The bud was in full bloom – It was a white lotus like flower with a 12 inch radius. It looked glorious and smelled divine. In the dark night, the white seemed ghostly. After taking a few pictures, I thought it would be rude to disturb it anymore.
On research, I learnt that I had been fortunate enough to see the sacred Brahma Kamal (Saussurea obvallata) in bloom. The Brahma Kamal blooms only for a night attracting bats and moths with its strong fragrance. It blooms only once and then slowly dies out.
Considered rare with healing powers, it has many stories surrounding it. Brahma fell asleep while meditating and was transformed into this beautiful, mystical flower. Shiva used this flower to attach the elephant’s head to Ganesh’s body.
The Himalayas are exotic and have many rare species of flora and fauna. Every day on the hills, I am humbled as I experience something extraordinary. I raise my cup of Dorje Teas as I salute the mighty mountains.
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