Category Archives: Seasons

My Amaltas tree

Raza Rumi

I grew up watching an Amaltas (Cassia fistula) grow in our side-garden in Lahore. Each spring would bring flowers on the creepers and shortly thereafter the Amaltas would start blooming with yellow flowers setting fire to the little garden adjacent to my room. Lahore’s roads would also glow in the summer adding much zest to a loveable, hot summer. Heat would make one yearn for the rains. So the cycle of seasons would continue with Amaltas at the centre of transitions and unforgettable for the colour and unfathomable beauty…

In Dhaka, Delhi and so many South Asian cities I have watched Amaltas trees in full bloom. The picture above (taken in Islamabad by a newspaper correspondent) today brought back all those muddled memories. Luckily, where I live now, Amalatas exists with a different local name.

Comforting, like an old acquaintance, it is still there in my life. It has not abandoned me.

More on the Amaltas tree, its properties…

Famous for its laxative properties, amaltas (botanical name — Cassia fistula, Sanskrit name — aragvadha or chaturangula) is a medium-sized tree, which is also the favourite roadside tree of the planners. In full bloom in the summer, amaltas is conspicuous by its bright yellow flowers and long cylindrical fruits. Continue reading

Lahore: Return the GOR Park

By Ahmad Rafay Alam

Several formalities need to be completed before Shabaz Sharif can once again assume the administration of this province. But this hasn’t deterred the former chief minister from letting all and sundry know that he’s back in town and that he means business. What this also means is that the previous government’s grip over the administration of the Punjab— a vice like noose that wound its way from halls of the secretariat, through every police station in the province and into the vaulted halls of the Lahore High Court— is slowly but surely loosening.

During the past few years few, if any, have uttered a word about the fate of the small triangular park that stood in the heart of Lahore’s leafy GOR-I residential district. Turning into the GOR at the intersection of the Mall and Davis Road, it stood outside the chief minister’s official residence and office. At some point this once round-a-bout was converted into a triangular “green” island. Then, to ward off the children, loiterers and die-hard cricketers a fountain was added to the middle of the island (It didn’t work: the marbled floor around the triangular fountain not only provided an year-round pitch, it gave local cricket enthusiasts three pitches instead of one.)

Regardless of whether or not any of these measures worked from keeping the great unwashed out of the line of vision of the high and mighty, the point is that this little bit of green in the middle of GOR— in front of the provincial chief executive’s nerve centre no less— was a park open to the public as a utility area. And even when over zealous policemen keeping watch at the CM’s office managed to chase away the children, loiterers and die-hard cricketers, the little island was another little example of the beauty tucked away in GOR. Continue reading

Lahore has never been that cold since the 1950s

The temperature was recorded at –2.2 degrees Celsius on Tuesday morning, the coldest since 1953. Met Office director Muhammad Riaz said the department had recorded –2 degrees Celsius in January 2006 and –1.15 degrees Celsius earlier in January this year. He said the temperature in the city had dipped below freezing thrice since 1953. Even though the sky remained clear and the sun shone, Lahoris felt the bite of the chill throughout the day. Mr Riaz said that in Pakistan the temperature usually fell after the rains, which came in the first week of January. “Usually, a cold wave sweeps through the mountainous region and the Northern Areas after rains caused by the westerly system.” He said that in January 2008 the country witnessed continuous rain, thunderstorms, snowfall and hailstorm. The Metrological Department has forecast cold and dry weather for today (Wednesday), stating the current cold wave will last another two or three days. source