Din ka raja aur uski praja
(English:The Day-king and his retinue)
I really like having plants with perfumed flowers around where I live. I plant them whenever we move into a new house. When we moved into ‘Casa Grande’ as my brother and his family refer to the quaint old-fashioned bungalow that we are presently staying in, I had the same sentiments.
(My wife reminds me, that by ‘planting’, I actually mean getting someone else to plant them .)
My father-in-law, the quintessential and ever-obliging gardener, brought two perfumed bushes and a creeper so as to indulge his son-in-law.
The Clematis creeper grew profusely, flowered in all seasons and doused passers-by in clouds of perfume. The Raat ki rani (Night queen, to those who know not Hindi) (Cestrum nocturnum) wafted gentle fragrance into my son’s bed room. But the Din ka raja (Day king) (Cestrum diurnum) though growing tall did not quite live upto the reputation of its nocturnal relative, planted barely twenty feet away.
It was not his fault really. Cestrum diurnum flowers in the rains in India and yours truly was quite ignorant of this. The rains brought flowers but no visitors. I was disappointed.
One overcast day, around ten in the morning, there was a break in the clouds, and some shafts of golden yellow sunshine poured through. All at once there was a riot of insect life, buzzing all around the flowers.
The most colourful were the Common Jays (Graphium doson). I had seen them very often in my garden fliting up and down the Mast trees (Polyalthia longifolia). Common Jays are common in CME whereas there are very few records, if any, in neighbouring Pune. It is a electric blue butterfly which can easily be mistaken by beginners as the Common Bluebottle (Graphium sarpedon).
There were many Common Gulls (Cepora nerissa) around. The bushes just swerved with them. But were they flighty? I hardly had time to focus before they were off. Add to that, their folding their wings.
Another visitor – the Blue Tiger (Tirumala limniace).
Besides the butterflies, there were wasp, flies and bees too.
This looked like a fly through the viewfinder till blown up on a computer for identification. It turned out to be the head of a Common Emigrant (Catopsilia pomona), the green wings had seemingly merged in the background.
My cup runneth over….