Saturday, May 9, 2020

Tagore's Birthday and Flowers of Neem with a dash of #Hindi Poetry

When on Thursday morn, I sat outside
under our neem tree 
with a beautiful book 
and a cup of chai, 
I didn't know it was Tagore's birthday. 

The fragrant blooms of neem were busy 
dropping off its branches and carpeting 
the mat, the book and me. 
A few even plopped into my tea! 
There was something beautiful about that moment. 
I started scribbling a few lines and before I knew it, 
I was typing out an Insta post of poetry. 

The friend whose book it is, called a couple of hours later to say
it was Buddha Purnima that day.
And she added that the 7th of May
is also Rabindra Nath Tagore's birthday. 

O! how co-incidental, I thought.

I had to share that which I wrote, I thought.
A few lines-
I'll call them poetry
Just because:)

They're in Hindi
Yes, that which I wrote.
The title is not.
It's called Flowers of Neem

A translation I feel
will not bring out the flavour
of feelings that only Hindi can reveal
you see there are things:
subtle and sublime;
long lost yet found
ethereal yet ground
almost like water vapour
which one can only savour
in ones own mother tongue
or perhaps--
I am just a rubbish translator!

So, for the readers of English who visit,
I have shared a bit
of Moon inspired lines
some ideas to dine
with an easy recipe of rasam.
You'll find it all after this poem
recited in a voice that is mine:)

A recital: Neem ke Phool
नीम की फुलझढ़ियों
की बेफ़िक्री देखिए
कभी Tagore से उभरती हैं
तो कभी चाय की चुस्कियाँ में डूब जाती हैं
नज़ारा कुछ ऐसा है आज चटाई का
कि बिखर बिखर के वो नादान
सेज सजाऐ जाती हैं
और इंतज़ार की एक मीठी सी
धुन गुनगुनाऐ जाती हैं
पर कोई इन डालियों से पूछे
सबर का सिला
एक मुद्त का इंतज़ार
और फिर बहार
वो भी बस पल भर की
मालूम नहीं मुझे कि वो
किस तरह
अपने सभी फूल नयौछावर कर
धूप के आँगन में खिलखिलाऐ जाती हैं
शायद मुझसे ज़्यादा सयानी हैं
नीम की डालियाँ
वो जानती हैं
अपने फूलों की फ़ितरत
बिखरने के लिए ही तो खिलते हैं वो
The Moon was not yet high
not yet full in the sky.
She was taking time to dress
in her evanescence. 

If lines scribbled in notebooks
could rise and rustle up dishes,
I'd sit waiting for Moon forever
and build delicious dinner castle wishes
in my head and tell the husband to imagine it all with me
but sadly none of that
was going to happen on my mat
under the neem tree.
So, onward to the kitchen I proceeded with my powers
to turn into scrumptious my basket of recently dried neem flowers.

A quick google search was all it took
and a rummage in many a nook
to find all the essentials to cook
dinner of rasam with rice:
jaggery, tamarind and ghee,
plus curry leaves on sprigs that had been picked already
from the tree that grows past my kitchen door
next to the forest of Canna Lily.
Curry Tree and Canna Lily

The fragrance of flowers of neem,
when they turn golden in molten ghee
over a slow flame 
is no less magical than a Moon that is full and supreme.
Rasam dark of tamarind and jaggery,
 boiled and bubbled rather properly.
 I tempered it with hing, chillies and mustard.
"Dinner's ready!" I hollered
'Twas a feast to tingle all taste buds:
sour, sweet, hot, bitter and salty.
I'm told this rasam has many a medicinal quality.

The husband and I:
we went for a walk after 
with our masks on and taking all precautions that matter.
Moon was full and strong
and shone brightly all along
the streets, the houses, the cats and the giant dustbins
 of Doha.
And when our walk was done,
we got back:
washed hands;
 sanitised door knob, inches touched and every other centimetre
while Moon,
shining through the paper blind 
of our bedroom window,
As promised, here's the link to an easy recipe:
What follows is a photo gallery 
of the flower 
of the hour
with four simple steps to follow if you have a neem tree flowering in your vicinity.
Step 1: Harvest the flowers
Step 2: Wash the flowers
 Step 3: Dry the flowers: spread out on a kitchen towel and find a sunny spot. Keep covered with muslin cloth to avoid dust

Step 4: Store in an airtight tin or jar

Have a lovely, wholesome, sunshiny and fragrant weekend y'all.

Eat healthy and keep safe and smile and read poetry or dance or just hop like a sparrow 
Do whatever tickles your fancy.
But be kind to yourself; for you see--
 there's only one of you in this world: near and far


  1. I don’t know which part of this blog not to admire ! Just beautiful , अति सुन्दर ! Just loved ALL of it Arti ! 💜

  2. Absolutely loved your hindi poem. Neem flowers look divine,your rasam sounds delicious. And then the culmination with a walk on a moonlit night. Strangely, I have never paid attention or thought of Neem flowers. Neem twigs yes, for datun and Neem leaves yes for their healing properties. Now, I am going to look out for Neem blossoms. A Lovely post on a lovely day. Thank you! ����

    1. Thank you Ish. I came across neem flower rasam recipe through the A to Z challenge. A friend shared it when I wrote about rose petal jam. In fact, I've just come in after harvesting today's crop and my hair is full of these tiny flowers as they shower from the branches like snowflakes:)

  3. Lovely poem, in both English, Hindi and your rendition, and the rasam.

  4. Hari Om
    "They blossom only to disintegrate"... is this line itself not a statement of life?!! Lovely, Arti.

    I love rasam and my sister-friend Mahal makes a delicious one. She has a curry tree, but no neem. I lack both, but I do believe I can taste it nonetheless!!! YAM xx

    1. So true Yamini.
      Methinks you'll do a good job of translating this Hindi poem. I'm too attached to the way it sounds in my mother-toungue;)
      I hope one day in this lifetime I can make a pot full of neem flower rasam for you.
      hugs. xx

  5. Lovely poem, sorry to not be able to read Hindi... I can smell those pretty flowers ;)

  6. Dublinhousewife.comMay 12, 2020 at 9:13 PM

    Beautiful writing. What is a neem tree? I've never heard of it. X Bernie Rose

    1. Thank you Bernie, so happy to see you here.
      Well, neem tree is native to the Indian sub continent. It's also called the Indian lilac; there's more on:

  7. Bahut sundar..aapke padne ka andaaz bhi behtrareen hain..kay baat kahi...khilti hai bikharne ke liye.
    Mujhe neahi pata tha ki neem ke phool bhi hote hai...hamesha kadwaahat se hee usse joda..sach kitni assaani see hum har ek ko ek label de dete hai-bina jaane bina pehchaane

    1. Thank you Arti.
      Yes, neem flowers make yummy rasam. I'm a neem fan. Love its leaves--so good for hair and body and the daatun of it twigs:)
      If you even get a chance to sit under a neem tree in late April--go for it. You'll love it.

  8. Dear Arti,

    Your words are like a hug to my senses😍 Now, I am thankful I learnt Hindi in school.

    And wow. Your voice. So beautiful. Had to listen to the reading a couple of times before I moved on.

    I know where I can find a neem tree but it is not blooming currently. I must remember to try this rasam out. Sounds healthy and delicious. How long does it take for the neem flowers to dry?

    Do you have a big garden like your grandfather's and do you spend time pottering about in it?

    And Have a great weekend too!

    1. Thank you for following my instructions to read this post Namratha:) You're such a good listener;)
      Yes, I do have a beautiful garden. And just like my childhood days, now that I am an empty- nester as well as a home bird, I spend more time in my garden than indoors. While writing the April posts, I realised that a lot of the plants and trees I have grown in my gardens over the last two decades are what Papaji grew in his!

    2. That is wonderful! I yearn to have a nice garden, maybe a veggie patch, some fruit trees or maybe even a little farm. Right now, I have young kids and my garden is in the balcony and receives intermittent attention. I am being kind to myself and not pushing it beyond that.

    3. Your little ones are your garden dear Namratha:) Do all the nurturing of your young'ns now, and if possible, encourage them to sow seeds and watch the magic of life:) Then, perhaps, when they are all grown up and ready, you all can tend to many trees and flowers together as a family.
      This is my prayer for you. xx

  9. Thank you Arti for this treat. Immensely loved the audio and your poetry both. The rasm and the neem. How you string everything together!
    You inspire me to record my hindi poems. As of now the ebook is craving for attention. Soon after that!

    1. Cheers Sonia.
      All the best for your book. I know it is launch day today. May this be the start of many more.
      Stay blessed and keep creating. xx

  10. After a short break I am so glad to have found time to visit your blog again. I so missed your posts.But now I can savour them all one by one... So what if I can't make the awesome rasam as non of the ingredients can be found in walking vicinity in this lock down. I loved the poem in Hindi and the English poem too... Don't know which one I loved better... Perhaps the intermix of both the poems and the day spent under the neem tree with the tea in hand and the walk accompanied by a savoury treat....just loved it all :)

    1. Aww!! Cheers Ira. After reading your comment, I feel like you were with me on that chatai:)

  11. It traverses through moods as poetically as it does for languages and creative forms...from penning to cooking..I love its Joyecean leap as it keeps the receiver with an unending desire to know, "what's next" is so captivating...the thoughts are innocent, words are subtle and wishes are entirety an adorable piece to regards

    1. Thank you so much for your sparkling comment Saibal. I'm feel elated and humbled. I wish you a happy day and a beautiful week ahead.


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