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ROLLA : A SHADE THAT LINGERS


A tree that has travelled across the Arabian ocean from India as a small sapling.

A tree that has grown in a desert and lived more than 150 years.

A tree which is remembered until now by the older generation of a country.

A tree that has given shade to generations before its fall.

A tree that has inspired a statue in its honor .

It was a Banyan tree at Rolla Square, Sharjah. And Banyan is called Rolla locally.

In fact, a search for the meaning of Rolla has landed me to some information given here (you come across this word quite often in U.A.E as a street or square).

Rolla square in Sharjah is a famous locality where a unique memorial of a Rolla tree is built to honor the first Rolla/Banyan tree travelled from India to Uae in 1800’s and grown and served its purpose here in Sharjah until 1978 till its fall. The place it stood for years was called by its name and slowly became the heart of a desert city which spread to larger size over years.  Now Rolla square is the first thing to be mentioned when you talk about Sharjah. And that all started from a tree! Of course a tree is the greatest asset to a desert and that could be the reason a lone tree was admired this much and grown into a legend, and even inspired a statue in its memory.

See how a 65 year old local man gives its account, to the Daily “National”;

Ali al Shamsi, 65, stood recently before the statue of a tree – an unusual sight anywhere in the world, let alone the Arabian Peninsula, as he tried to explain how it came to be there.

“Here stood the biggest and greatest tree of the UAE,” Mr. al Shamsi said.

He grew up in the Rolla neighborhood, long before it transformed into Al Ghuwair market area. There used to be a single school, a few traditional homes, a store or two and a continuous flow of nomads and caravans who sought shelter from the beating sun.

“It was a common sight to see travelling families stopping by here to rest under the Rolla tree,” he said.

Every day after school, Mr. al Shamsi and his classmates would meet at the “special spot” before they headed home. “The tree was huge,” he said. “There were swings on its branches, which we all fought over, and we would climb it and have fun, and see the world from its top.

“All of us, including the animals, like cats and camels, would sit under it and enjoy its shade.”

(Courtesy: “The National”)

From these words, it is evident what this tree meant for them. A magic tree in the middle of a desert. And us, who cuts down many a tree all over this world on everyday basis, should look back to the legend of this tree and its memory lingering here at Rolla Square, to understand how dependant are we to nature and how we kills it.

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VACATION BLUES


Long time, I did not update this blog, and was busy back home in India on vacation. Everything seemed fresh and new and had some nice time with family at home and journeying.

Finally returning to Sharjah, cheered by a load of assignments to be finished for the school as usual during every summer holidays, fell flat on my stomach whining, later to come in terms with the reality of continuing the same old life before vacation.

Thus, I am back, going school with a bag loaded with all the stuff that will shape my future.

And exams started and will go on during this month.

So, I will meet you after few more days. Let the vacation blues be over.

Picture courtesy :  www.danteterzigni.com

MORE THAN A THOUSAND FULL MOONS


This is in tribute of a person whom I did not get much to know because he left this world when I was seven years old. Three times I have met him during my vacations, at the ages of two, four and six. Rest all I know about him is from my father. He is my grandfather, the beloved father of my dad and other seven children. A grandfather of thirteen and great grandfather of eleven (out of this, he has seen only the first one). He is still admired by his children and friends as a man of great moral and modern outlook, who died five years back on this day at the age of 89.This man who has seen much more than a thousand full moons, according to my father, was a man who kept his pace with changing times, many a times ahead of it and never could be termed as orthodox in his thinking or deeds. He has defied conventions right from his youth when the society around him was of feudal and orthodox values. For my father, as he states, he was not just father but a friend, philosopher and guide. What more I can write about him?

But I realize that I too have lost someone, whose presence could have been something precious in my life.

FRUITS CHERISHED AND LAW OF NATURE


Mangoes and jackfruits are ripe from last two months and it is end of season now. My memories of mangoes are the neatly stacked ones I am finding in the supermarkets here. But from last year, it seems less supplied here; don’t know the reason may be poor harvest in India and Pakistan. The cheaper mangoes come from Pakistan which is sweeter than the varieties come from India. But Indian mangoes have a large variety to choose from comparing to fewer from Pakistan. Jackfruit mainly comes from Kerala, but not at all of quality. Eating it just for the sake of eating. A small piece of jackfruit costs you Dh.10 onwards which in fact is not worth when you get poor quality of it. Mangoes and jackfruits are very costly here but back home  we can get it free from our trees!!!

I like mangoes and jackfruit very much. May be because of getting it less here as my father puts it. Back home, we have few trees of both in our property but I am here whining.  My summer vacation starts in July and I will be at Tirur or Kuttippuram in July and August. But by that time the season will be over for both except a few late comers on those trees.Mangoes are OK but the jackfruit absorbs monsoon and will be of no taste.  I can only blame my summer vacation for this. But my father disagrees and his logic goes like this:-

In India, the summer vacation is in April and May. Mangoes and jackfruits are ripe by that time so the children enjoy it.

In UAE, the summer vacation is in July and August. Dates are ripe by that time so the children enjoy it.

So what matters is the place where we are.

Be at the right place at the right time, he says. (Ah, is it possible?)

Nature has placed certain fruits in plenty at places and other fruits will be cherished there as it goes for mangoes in UAE and dates in India, he adds.

What to do? Law of nature. Consoling. Is it?

(Pictures courtesy: mangoes-www.livinggoodhealth.com, jackfruit-www.cookhereandnow.com)

OF LUCKY AND NOT BEING LUCKY


On a July morning, the twins Mia and Ria were playing with their friends when they heard a small whine. They looked back to see a small puppy. By the sound of his whine, it was understood that he was lost. They searched around for its mother. After a long search when they didn’t find the puppy’s mother, they took it to the police station. After few days, they were doing errands for their mother when they saw a puppy coming out of the police station. They recognized it as the puppy they had rescued. They went inside carrying the puppy in their hands and asked the officer on duty whether they could take it. The officer whose name was Colin discussed their request with the other officers. After a while …they agreed as no one had yet come asking for him. So after finishing all the errands they ran back home with the puppy. They thought and thought for a nice name to give the puppy at last when they could not find a nice name the twins asked their mother what they should name it. Their mother thought for a while and then she said ‘Lucky’ as they were lucky to get a pet and Lucky was lucky to have someone take care of him.

. . . . . . .

Living in a desert city, you may not find many birds or animals around you as natural as you find back home. The most you find here are stray cats around the garbage bins placed everywhere.

Occasionally a pet dog being walked by its owner, a few pigeons or sparrows on your window sills are the glimpses of animal life around you here. To see the native camel, you need to travel to the deserts outside the city limits.

But there are many shops selling pet animals here who are even importing dangerous and unusual pets such as Lions, Tigers, Baboons or even Pythons. Recently a python found on a road in Sharjah had created some panic to the passer-bys. Illegal trade of near extinct animals is reported many a times in media.

I do wonder what makes them happy to keep such animals as pets.

Pets could be either dogs or cats who love their masters back but not the wild animals that have no such love towards the masters. Even caging the harmless birds as pets could be wrong as no bird loves to be a captive.

Why do we enjoy seeing another living being in captivity?

Let them be lucky to live in their natural habitat.

(picture courtesy : http://www.kentuckyanimals.org)

LONGING ON A VISHU


Today is Vishu. The Malayalam New Year. Also the New Year in many other states in India.

I had school today unlike the children who have holidays now in India. I have only few things to remember about Vishu or any other festivals here. We have always had the Vishukkani, kainettam and sadya here( no fire crackers! no by law!), but I don’t even have a faint memory of Vishu celebrated at my ancestral homes at Tirur or Kuttippuram because we were never there at the time of Vishu . I have had all the images of Vishu from the words of my parents and from books or television. I think almost all my friends are alike even though some have experienced it back home in Kerala.  But my parents say there are many changes from the past when you talk about such celebrations, whether here or in Kerala. They say that every item was prepared at home only and never had an idea of buying a Sadya  from a nearby hotel. Here we get all the ingredients for a celebration ready to buy from a nearby supermarket or hotel, even then I believe I am missing the real fun of it which I may get back home with my grandparents and other family members. Is it nostalgia? No. it is not because nostalgia is about the things you had once and not able to, now. I have nothing of the sort “then”. My only luck  is that I have a mother who knows all these traditional recipes and we are still preparing everything at home, whether she or I have office or school to attend.  For me every festival is a note of thanks to my mom.

So the Vishukkani, Vishukainettam and Vishusadya were all there today also and enjoyed it. The rest I will be dreaming.

A happy Vishu to you all.

(pictures courtesy : Mathrubhumi)