Statistically, 35 people perished in the carnage essayed by Cyclone Thane. Yet, the obituaries that will never be written are of Pondicherry’s beautiful avenue trees, many of which we have celebrated on The Green Ogre. In the funereal streets of this old French enclave, their limbs are being hacked and quartered and carted away. History as we loved it is trickling away before our very eyes. We cannot afford to blink.
|Dec 30, 5:30 AM. Cyclone Thane at its peak with Mohawk-crested coconut trees|
|I love this spot — the catamaram docking point.
It was my seascape shot with boats and the blue sea, a guilty pleasure.
|Dec 30, 9 am. The same place — battered and bruised. The sea had a 4 feet swell|
|Dec 31. I go back again and find this fisherman in a pensive mood.
The sea is back to its usual photogenic state.
The city, unfortunately, will take more time.
|The beautiful Millingtonia hortensis in the school campus, chopped and piled up by the road side|
|Fallen trees, some of which were scores of years old, cut and cleared with hacksaws|
|A street cart, the road is cleared|
|The Neem tree at the Ashram entrance is now a part of history.|
|The thatched roof rests on the Gulmohar which has made it through.|
|This isn’t exactly what the tourists expected to see, but see they must|
|Rue Francois Martin|
|Goubert Avenue. The trees on this road are exposed to the sea wind and take a long time to grow.
This one is gone but provides some shade to a lady having her lunch.
|With its Cassias, Laburnums, Scarlet Cordia (Cordia sebestena) etc, Rue Francois Martin was one of the most beautiful streets in Pondicherry.|
|31 Dec – tourists, onlookers and a lone TV cameraman|
Perhaps we have seen the last of the Sky Jasmine.
|I was completely taken in with the second flush of the Akasha Mallige (Sky Jasmine).
We had run this photo essay earlier this month with this picture.
|And this picture too|
|That Indian Cork Tree above has not survived (and has not yet been cleared)|
|Another Millingtonia hortensis along the wall of the French Institute…|
|…is no more. Thane has been especially severe on these trees; hardly any have survived|
|Goubert Avenue on Ganesha Chaturthi earlier this year|
|The same spot on the avanue, post Cyclone Thane|
|Villa Beyoud then…|
|Zipping along the sea was fun especially during late mornings. This painting by Kirti Chandak has fascinated me for its sense of delight in a scooty ride. It was typical Pondicherry seascape.|
|Goubert Avenue on Dec 31.
If anyone was here on the morning of Dec 30, the rocks hurled by the waves would have cracked their skulls open.
Red Cassia – the trees we celebrated are now maimed.
|The lovely Cassia nodosa, Red Cassia|
|After the storm. Maybe these trees will make it.|
|The “beautified” Goubert Avenue. Work has been on for more than a year.|
|The wind was so strong that it lodged stones below the granite slabs…|
|….and deposited rocks on the shore.|
|The Copper Pods (Peltophorum pterocarpum) of Bharathi park — stripped, whipped and toppled|
|A wintry scape in the tropics – Bharathi Park as never seen before|
|Broken as hearts can be…|
|In better times, the park hosted many a rendezvous|
|The constant drip of Copper Pod flowers adorns the ground, nuage jaune sur la terre – the ‘yellow cloud on the earth’ – this is how I remember the park|
|The gnarled old trees caught their own flowers in their nooks and crannies.
Most of them Thane has claimed.
|The yellow canopy will be sorely missed this summer|
|We are like this only — the “Red Indian” coconuts have grudgingly parted with their fruit. Homo sapiens are making the most of it.|
|The forest of music remains in memory|
|Dec 31 – 4 PM. The clouds will soon take a more photogenic orange hue. Goodbye Thane.|
|Dec 31 – 10 PM. Two long days come to an end and so does the year. Thane is on her mind…|
|…and in her dreams|
Text and Photographs by Sahastrarashmi
- Encounter: The Sacred Grove at Oorani - November 28, 2012
- Encounter: Rhododendron, sentinel of the highlands - October 7, 2012
- Manjhi Akshayavat, an immortal Banyan tree - July 17, 2012
One thought on “Shrieks of silence in Pondicherry’s treeless avenues”
A touching post and your pain in the loss of the trees is palpable. We recently visited Pondicherry and I loved the beautiful diverse species growing there. Reading this post after our visit makes it more poignant.