While we always prided ourselves on being part of a township where the founder’s vision of tree-lined avenues was a daily reality show for us. But there was something more that gave many of us, as children, countless moments of relaxation, excitement and sheer beauteous appeal – the trees that formed an important part of our growing up.

What triggered this particular memory was an auction held on the 12th of June in Stockholm. Two magnificent watercolors done by Zayn al-Din, who was commissioned by Lady Mary Impey, a patron of the arts in our very Bengal in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. She was incidentally the wife of Sir Elijah Impey, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Judicature at Fort William in Bengal. Remember how we always talked about the wooded area around Loreto House in those days being the garden house of Sir Elijah?

But let’s get back to Zayn al-Din, one of the leading artists of the Company period, who painted a lot of the local birds, adopting and adapting to the European techniques. Two of his bird studies fetched a combined price of more than a crore of rupees! His Darakht ban Falsa, Shah Bulbul shows a paradise flycatcher amidst Falsa leaves.

Which brought one back to our innocent school days of sitting under a Falsa tree on 21 Bagmati Road, my friend Rita and I, of a lazy post-study afternoon, gorging on the tiny falsa berries, which hardly yielded any flesh, but were a tangy tickle to the taste buds. Incidentally, that tree still stands steadfastly at that very address.

Other trees gave us grazed knees, as we would clamber up a guava tree with its frail branches for the not so forbidden fruit, and enjoy, all summer, the flaming gulmohur, eagerly spreading the flowery branches right into our verandah.

And the rose garden? At one end of Jubilee Park, there it was. Every year, my father, P.N. Mookerji, who led corporate communications at Tata Steel, would be up at crack of dawn to get to the garden and pick a dozen red roses for my mother on their anniversary. Nature was truly our gift shop.

Photo credits: Banner Left: Telegraph.com; Banner Center: Wikipedia; Banner Right: Telegraph.com

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