The six seasons: 2

Summer is the time of mangoes. In the part of the country where I grew up, the decisive beginning of grishma (summer) would be the brief week or two when the house would fill up with seemingly unending baskets of lychee. But they would be over before I could ever anticipate it, and suddenly one day the house would have the first mangoes of the summer. There are almost no lychees in Mumbai, and the summer starts with the delightful apoos (alphonso). The other delightful aspect of this, the most terrible of seasons, are the flowering trees. My favourite is the red of the silk cotton flower (Bombax ceiba), named after the silky feathers which waft through the burning air in May, carrying seeds from the burst fruits. On the other side of the road, peeking out from behind a building I can spot another favourite, the red flowers of the gul mohar (Delonix regia, the flame of the forest). The easiest to photograph from my window are the copperpods (Peltophorum pterocarpum, yellow flame) which line the roads around us. Nearby, and invisible to me now, is a jacaranda tree which must be in flower. None of these popular road-liners are native to Mumbai. The first rains of the next season will knock all these flowers off the trees, and for a few days the roads will be carpeted with vivid patches of colour decaying into mush.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. For now I can see the morning’s light moving along my kitchen wall. A couple of weeks ago the sun, as it rose, would burn me as I made my morning’s tea. Now that spot in my kitchen is safe, and the sun’s first light falls on the southern wall. The cool land breeze of the morning stops earlier now, and the equally cool sea breeze also sets in earlier. The sound of the birds has changed; perhaps they have moved to different parts of the garden, and someone else in getting the early morning concert that I would a few weeks back. In Mumbai you feel the summer more by an increase in the humidity as the sun warms up the ocean. I can feel it already.


By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.


  1. This is such a beautiful piece of writing. Gulmohar or Krishnachura (as they are known in Bengal…I think) used to be my favorite too and there was a big tree right by our house that would be laden with the flowers in summer. Our backyard would often be covered by the petals and the leaves and along with the sweet smell from the mango tree, it was a place, I remember, where I spent many late afternoons (on weekends). Typically with a bowl of lychees or some slices of the ‘Himsagar’ mangoes. There is also a variety called Radhachura (it’s yellow in color) and those brightened up the neighborhoods as well.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Wikipedia says yes! Himsagar is an early season variety, though it is available till June. I am not sure if it is popular outside of West Bengal as well. Do you get it in Mumbai? It used to be my favorite:)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ve had Himsagar when I visit(ed) Kolkata. It is not one of the famous varieties, but it has a charm. I don’t know whether you get it in Mumbai, almost certainly at one of the specialty shops for Bengali food.

        Liked by 1 person

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