Paying a Visit to Hyderabad’s 800 year old Baobab Tree

So after taking in the sensory overload of Golconda Fort and its festivities for the better part of a day, we finally started making our way back home. Rather than pouncing on a tuk-tuk right away, we decided to do a little strolling first, to see what was in the immediate vicinity.

Just outside the Fort we passed through a colorful neighborhood with cows, goats and Muslim women engulfed in black cloth that left only their eyes naked.

Passing by the Hyderabad Golf Club (the only public golf course in the city), we came to the walls of more ruins that seemed to extend out from the Fort. But this section of structures could be accessed by anyone without paying admission. Evidently Hyderabad has so many ruins that it can afford to keep a spare set. These walls had steps that one could mount up to the tops of the little towers where the cannons were located.

While we were exploring this, along came two young Indian fellows (one of whom, heaven help him, is an aspiring actor), and like many of the other locals we’ve encountered, they wanted to pose for photos with us. But we were uncertain as to exactly how they wanted to proceed. And they seemed quite confused themselves.

Normally, the locals simply want to pose with us for a “selfie” that they snap on their phones. But these guys, rather than brandishing their own phones, seemed content to appear in our own photos on our phones. Or were they more interested in doing major league selfies with the actual bona fide camera we’d brought along? Did the young thespian think that a high-quality shot with this camera would make him look like a star, and that we would pass the photo on to him and he could make use of it somehow?

In any case, what ensued was a little comedy of errors during which we tried out different combinations of cameras/phones, poses and models until finally everyone seemed happy. So we wished them good luck, said goodbye and went on our way.

Also near the golf course is a tree. Not just any tree, but a baobab tree. Not just any baobab tree, but a very big baobab tree. Not just any very big baobab tree, but a very old big baobab tree — reportedly about 800 years, give or take a ring or two. And reputedly, it was brought from Madagascar and planted by itinerant fakirs. With a backstory like that, it’s got to have some real mojo going for it.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about it is its subjective appearance. By “subjective”, we don’t just mean it’s a matter of opinion whether it’s beautiful or ugly; we mean that it appears to suggest different shapes — specifically different wild critters — to different people. To some, it might suggest an elephant. To some, it might suggest a crocodile. To others, it might suggest a game show host. Naturally, we had to offer the camera our own impressions, more or less, of our impressions of the enigmatic tree.

With such a resume, this tree surely must have many stories to tell. If nothing else, stories about the wacky characters who come to gawk at it.

Having paid our respects to the tree, we caught a tuk-tuk the rest of the way home, zig-zagging through more of the vibrant neighborhoods of Hyderabad. At one point, we passed by a moto (motorbike) on which a couple of goats were lounging. So of course, we snapped their photo. Later, a friend who’s spent a good amount of time in the country, saw the photo and commented that this was a “very India” sight.

Indeed it was. And we’re seeing a lot of them.

Birds of Naya Qila

July 7, 2022

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