It is the tree with perhaps the oldest genes. And within them is stored millions of years of evolutionary know-how. That the mythologies of west Asia have it mentioned glowingly is ample proof of the palm's ancientness and utility. From pharaonic Egypt to early Christian (Palm Sunday being an example) to Islamic iconography, the palm is everywhere. Even the erotic capital of medieval India takes its name from it. Khajuraho comes from Khajur or the date-palm that the guide there claims were once found in abundance in the area.
Not only is the palm the same as the word for the magical human extremity, that with its opposable thumb is understood to have had a huge a hand in human progress and within whose cushiony depression lie the lines of fate, it is also its design analogue.

The palm and its fingers. It is the same hand that rocks the cradle, writes, hurls grenades and sometimes gets us off.

The palm is also an oasis. Abundance in the midst of want. Like a palm holding dollars notes. Like a much-wanted holiday in the midst of swaying palms, the sea and a chilled bubbly waiting to be popped.

The fronds that hold the entrance of Sahara Ganj in Lucknow are shaped like a fish or an eye and that is 'showing' and not 'looking' or maybe doing both. The fish once used to snuggle into the coat of arms of the House of Awadh whose forebears came from Nishapur in Iran. Every big house and mansion doorway had the two-fish insignia perhaps out of deference to the rulers. Maybe it was just fashionable to do so.
Today the two-fish insignia is the official seal of the Uttar Pradesh state government. This lamp-post is one of the many that line the gravel path to Bahu Begum ka Maqbara in Faizabad. The interesting thing about the fishes here is that they are convexly placed instead of the usual arch shape that is theirs on doorways and in the official government seal. I don't think there is any special meaning behind the convex arrangement. It is simply a design compulsion.

The palms towering above the lamp-post are huge, almost like obelisks. Like the gates of some nether world. A world hidden but for its gates. A world mostly invisible in the noise outside. This city once used to be the capital of Awadh. Much before that the gods used to roam around here. And those palms there have seen it all.


  1. maharaj......find a way to read those fronds. Our fate lines tell us about tales ahead, mostly while looking down. But isn't looking back the right way ahead?!! And this time, looking back while looking up?
    hehehe....tell me if u got that!

  2. I place your hand in my palm, looking at the curve of yours, and tracing the lines of your palm with a light touch....


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