Sunday, July 29, 2012


The luscious fruit!

All of us have tasted and enjoyed the sweet delicious LITCHI fruits at one time or another. Those who have never tasted that fruit can’t imagine what they have missed. Those who have enjoyed that taste can never forget it. The pleasure of eating a freshly-plucked Litchi and sucking the juice out of it is simply heavenly -- more so if it is from one’s own front garden. I had the joy of this pleasure just two months back, at my daughter’s place, in north Bengal.

The fruit laden tree
The litchi tree stands majestically in the front garden, way back from all the flower beds, and holds sway over all it surveys. Just three-four feet up from the ground, it has branched off all round resembling an open umbrella, calling on children to climb on it and play hide and seek among its branches. With no child of tree-climbing age in the house, the tree stands alone housing various kinds of birds and insects.

This tree held a kind of fascination for me, with its fruits hanging so low that one could pluck them without an effort. I really loved watching it from the veranda while having my first cup of tea in the mornings. I am not ashamed to say that I used to get the urge to reach out and sit on the lowest branch – just three feet above the ground.  It always reminded me of my schooldays in Lakshmi Nivas, my childhood home in Thiruvananthapuram, where we had all kind of trees and various plants. Among these, I had my own tree, with very low branches; one of these was my usual place whenever I wanted to be on my own, far away from everyone else.

The tree after the fruits were gone
There are many types of trees in Gowri’s garden.  The VILVAM tree is the oldest one. The trunk of this tree is so big no two human arms could hold it – it needs at least two pairs of arms to grasp it. The Vilvam tree has special religious significance; it is used in Siva temples for archanai. Its leaves – it is a compound leaf with three leaves in one stem – are said to represent the three eyes of Lord Siva.

Then there are are palm trees, peepul trees and a large rain tree. Two of the palm trees have money plants creeping over their trunks, with leaves as big as elephants ears. Tall the palm trees may be, but because of this, they look dwarfed  when compared to other trees.

In addition, there are various fruit and flowering trees – such as lemon, starfruit, guava, a small mango tree, with a single fruit dangling among its branches, and an ARAINELLIKAI one. The last one belongs to the Gooseberry family, the fruits smaller in size with a sweet tangy taste.

The fruit laden branches
Among all these trees the Litchi tree was the one that really fascinated me, especially as I watched the flowers turn to fruit. The pity was I could not reach out and pluck an unripe litchi and eat it as I might have done with a green mango. I had to wait for Nature to ripen it.

Gathering the harvest
When these fruits started changing colour from a coppery greenish tinge to a full red coppery shade, this tree started attracting monkeys in the daytime and bats at nights. The skin and the seeds strewn on the ground all round the tree were proof to this Two boys were employed just to drive away the monkeys from the tree but I observed these boys were never seen when the monkeys appeared.  Were the boys neglecting their job or were the monkeys too clever for them? I don’t know.

In spite of these monkeys and bats, when the time came to harvest the ripe Litchi there was plenty, enough for the family, enough for the domestic servants and plenty more for the neighbours.        


Ashok said...

"Delicious"...Maiji Aunty, I love Litchies, so do my wife & daughter. So, every year during the Litchi season, this delicious fruit is consumed with great relish..But now after reading this lovely article, i'm depressed, BECAUSE this is off season and I desperately want to have my favourite Fresh Litchi with Ice Cream...

R.Ramakrishnan said...

There was a lichee tree in our house in Patna. Every summer there would be plentiful lichees for 6 years. (1959-1966).Nice red ripe and delicious. There would be more than enough to feast on them for weeks on end and also to distribute to neighbors.
Love Ramu

Gardenia said...

What a lovely time we had watching that tree (and keeping an eye on the truant boys!)
I remember how many times we discussed that it would be no use preserving the litchis in syrup. But Ma,you have found the best way to preserve the litchis - this way everyone can share them!

vaidhehi said...

lovely, luscious litchees...your blog took me back to our days in Jorhat, where the place we lived in was called litchubari as there was a litchee orchard just across the road..and as you describe it, was treat for the eyes and tongue.. they were so fleshy with a thin long seed inside..earlier, we always had lichees during the season in, in hyderabad, one rarely sees them..

Lakshmi said...

I don't think Litchis are common in South India, are they?
But ARAINELLI - my grandmother's house had an arainelli tree. We loved the fruits, but were always forbidden from eating too many of those because they are supposed to give you a cold. The muzu nelli version, however, was supposedly a cure for cold, being rich in Vit C and all. As expected, we hated Muzu nellikkai.

satchitananda said...

Beautiful pictures and interesting read. The colour of those litchis is so fresh and inviting.

Gauri Gharpure said...

You are lucky lucky lucky, Maiji! I can't wait to show this post to my sis tomorrow, she is litchi mad.

Anonymous said...

It's a delight reading all your blogs. Truly love them

Keats The Sunshine Girl said...

I think I can rank lychees with strawberries. They are my favourites:) Trees are so wonderful. Not only for the shade, beauty etc. They feed us:))

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What a charming time we had viewing that shrub (and maintaining an eye on the truant boys!)
I keep in mind how many periods we mentioned that it would be no use protecting the litchis in syrup. But Ma,you have discovered the best way to protect the litchis - this way everyone can discuss them!
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Swathi Iyer said...

Mami, I loved your blog, each post rekindled lot memories. Great blog. You write like a story telling.
Lychees are my family favorite.My 4 year old love them. I will come back for more stories.

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Martin Luther said...

lovely fruit and color. I like this so much. When I come to see places in pondicherry, all the times i taste it. I love this more.

Charles Mathew said...

Wonderful delight. mostly all the people's in Pondicherry like to have this litchi's so much. Whenever I visit pondicherry, if this is available surely I could buy and eat this. Thanks for sharing this.
Places to visit in pondicherry

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