Friday, June 28, 2013

Only fruit that has its seeds on the outside

Question: Which is the only fruit that has its seeds on the outside?
Answer: None. There are no fruits in the world that grow their seeds outside of them.

I recently encountered this question in a contest. The answer given was strawberry. I explained them that the question itself is enormously erroneous. Thankfully, in a personal message, they acknowledged the error stating that the question is “somehow ambiguous” and they would have framed the question differently.

In layman's conception of “fruit” and “seed”, we often consider strawberry and cashew apple/nut as two popular examples of “seed” outside of “fruit”. There are also other not so popular examples exist like sunflower seeds, pineapple, pine nuts and so on. But the problem is what we consider as “fruits” in these cases are not “true fruits” at all. Let me explain.

A “true fruit” matures from the Ovary of a flower consisting (A) Pericarp or Ovary Wall comprised of 1) Epicarp/Exocarp, 2) Mesocarp and 3) Endocarp (E.g.: In Mango or Peach, skin, flesh and thick shell containing the kernel) and (B) Seed comprised of 1) Seed Coat, 2) Embryo and 3) Endosperm (E.g.: seed skin, germinating embryo and seed). This structure is placed on a Receptacle (E.g.: the bottom of the dark hard pimple), which is then attached to the main plant by a stem called Pedicel. Other flower organs like Stamens, Calix/Calyces (collection of Sepals) and Corolla(s) (collection of Petals) are attached at the bottom (hypogynous – superior ovary) or in the middle (perigynous – half-inferior ovary) or at the end (epigynous – inferior ovary) of the Ovary.

In Strawberry, the receptacle becomes “fruit”. In the so called “seed”, which is the “true fruit”, all parts of (B) Seed are present but the (A) Pericarp is nearly filled by (B) Seed and thus it looks like another “seed skin”. But at microscopic level all layers are still present. Same as Groundnut/Peanut, when the “true fruits” are young the Mesocarp will be fleshy and the “real seed” will be tiny. When the “real seed” grows, it occupies the entire (A) Pericarp and turns it into a hard shell encompassing the seed.

In Cashew Apple/Nut, the pedicel becomes “fruit”. In the “nut”, which is the “true fruit”, (B) Seed parts are present. (A) Pericarp becomes a double shell containing an allergenic gooey irritant.

In Pineapple, the inflorescence (which holds a flower cluster or flower group) and stem become “fruit”. Cultivators won't allow the “real fruits” to mature. If they mature they will become “seed like”, just like Strawberry, and will be placed in pits out side of the “fruit's surface”.

In Roselle, the calyx becomes “fruit”. (A) Pericarp becomes the seed capsule containing (B) Seed. Roselle is not an example of “seed” outside of “fruit”, but is an example of petals becoming “fruit”.

In fact, there are humongous number of species out there in the wild with “seeds” found outside of “fruits”. These are false fruits and are called Accessory Fruits or Pseudocarp. The strange properties of these accessory fruits are, in some cases, unlike Mango or Peach, once cut off from the main plant they won't be getting ripe anymore or the taste won't improve.

Also technically, when we talk about fruits and seeds, it's about flowering plant species, angiosperms, meaning plants that produce seeds within an enclosure (this enclosure is called fruit) as opposed to gymnosperms, meaning “naked” seeds.

So, when the seeds are found outside, they simply become gymnosperms, non-flowering, fruitless, ovary-less species. E.g.: conifers, cycads and ginkgo.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz - A Polish tongue twister

Although my last encounter with a "different" culture went so hay-wire due mainly to the other end's decaying society, which refuses to learn anything new, updating their knowledge to adapt the changing world and stopped producing a healthy and sane new generation, it's always my great pleasure to try mastering a new language and indulge myself in a different culture. Oh, I love it!

There is so much of learning and, regenerating and rewiring neurons, which is a fulfilling and complete rejuvenating experience.

A year ago, while I was browsing through the racks of an old bookshop, I found this "Polish Phrasebook".

Backside it was written, "Follow the traveling sun god Dażbóg as he rides across the sky on a diamond studded beer keg (???). Follow his lead; he starts the day as a newborn, touring architecturally rich miasta (town), rolling woodlands and mountain peaks eager to experience the possibilities of a new culture and language. He ends the day older and wiser, with the insights that come with learning a new language".

It immediately clicked. I was like, aha, someone copied my very own thoughts. Curse the plagiarizer!

And I ended up buying the book. Initially, I tried to master the alphabets and the sounds. But then, there was no motivation and my enthusiasm began to dry up despite the sweet souvenir of a żubrówka on a christmas réveillon in Livry-Gargan, Paris. The book was abandoned.

Then came Ola and a "Polish dream" (Which is altogether a different story anyway). Now the book started to smile a ghastly smile at me, viciously.

Pissed-off me, I picked a tongue twister from the book and started to repeat it in it's ears. The result is:

It's an infamous Polish tongue twister about the town Szczebrzeszyn and a beetle, the cockchafer (chrząszcz). It goes like:

"W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie" means,
In the town of Szczebrzeszyn, the cockchafer buzzes in the reeds.

It is in fact the first line of a poem "Chrząszcz" (cockchafer) by Jan Brzechwa, which goes like:

W Szczebrzeszynie chrząszcz brzmi w trzcinie
I Szczebrzeszyn z tego słynie.
Wół go pyta: "Panie chrząszczu,
Po cóż pan tak brzęczy w gąszczu?"


In the town of Szczebrzeszyn a beetle buzzes in the reeds
And Szczebrzeszyn is famous for it.
An ox asks him: "Mister beetle,
What are you buzzing for in the bushes?"

A slower version:

And the crazier version:

Now the book is bleeding and pleading for mercy.

PS: Pardon my heavy impolite Polish accent. Please comment. Proszę... i dziękuję bardzo!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Monsoon magic

A poem written in admiration and celebration of the spirit of Mother Nature, especially the beauty of rain forests of Western Ghats mountain ranges of southern India, which occupies a great place in Sangam Tamil literature and is popularly called as the "Kurinji landscape".

Monsoon magic

Where'd it be, where'd it descend first?
On the milky white of coffee flower?
On my nose, scanning, sniffing seventh heaven?
Maybe on a rufous fruit of swarming sandalwood?
Or, on the angry blooms of flame of the forest?
Oh! Await too, the young leaves of sweet almond.
Would it be on *Nishâkânthi expecting its midnight?
Where’d it be, the first drop of this monsoon?
Would it be on the amorous rose-ringed parakeets?
Where’d it be, the elixir churned out of high heavens?

*Miân Ki Malhâr on *Sârangi. Or is it on *Dilrubha?
A menacing cloudscape hangs overhead
Dheem, dheem, dheena, dheem, plays the *Tabla.
A peafowl, the albino, struts through ostentatiously.
Against hooting gale, holds proudly its erected pride.
The lemon grass struggles to hold its ground.
A warty croaky bullfrog’s melody booms through reeds.
A wading pond heron awaits its catch.
A juvenile barbel chinned catfish hits surface.
Within a whisker of pick, between ‘em falls the debut drop.

Two, three, few, more, millions, zillions.
Pricks the pristine waterface, the raindrops bullion.
Bamboo groves sway, the rainstorm rattles.
Threaten to snap off, mountain-bee hives, rain slaps.
Their waxy wax tongues drool over.
Heaven earth lock lips, the love showers down.
Flash of *Malabar lightning, crash of *Lankan thunder.
Rhythmic drum of raindrops on red plantain leaves.
Clamor of paradisal music bears nude sense of Nirvana.
A *Nilgiri Langur drenches with kinsfolks, baby in lap.

Fills my nostrils, a gingerly aroma of ginger coffee.
*Unni sings *Nâdhalôludai, a *Kalyâna Vasantham.
The scent of mossy carpets on my beloved mangosteen,
Weds with the whiff of pale yellow-green clove tree lichens.
An urge kindled in, browse I through memory racks,
Evoking every hidden cherished childhood odors.
As lover’s tender hearts, downpour mates with noble soil.
Ploughing rainsperms chant mystic mythical sacred syllable.
Invoking an ancient charm, opening out the beauty trail.
Melts my soul, the soaked *sholascape’s essence in air.

Rapids of torrential floods, puberty to little singing brooks.
Nearby cascade roars anew, screams of height.
Falls heavy sculpting rocky pachyderms down.
Faraway cries of elephant herds. Rain bard tries tribal fusion.
On high wild *jumbos, nonsensical webs of wild great-vines.
On wild great-vines, parasitical orchids, honey-spurs on lips.
A twosome of two-tongued green vine-snakes hide under.
An amber tree frog crawls up, slips through rain fingers.
Male atop, hunting tree-hollow-pool for frogspawn kids.
Page after page, precipitation plume pens monsoon magic.

Spirited lightning remnant punctures cloud rucksacks.
Emptying heavenly treasure of watery diamonds.
Touch-me-not, touch-me-not, explode jewelweed balsams.
Touch-me, touch-me, persuade under-leaf shield-jewel bugs.
Cloudbanks trickle drop after another, bankruptcy filed.
Skies stand still. Clouds fade away. Trees rain still.
Water beads cow into tree fern’s spiral strangler fronds.
Drip, drip, drip! Sleepy coiled snails uncoil. Drip, drip, drip!
For every drop, playful trees free a mango squashing down.
Mynahs ruffle feathers, shake off rain game mischief.

Pleasing fragrance stray into mindscape.
A wayward squirrel nibbles at *Manoranjana.
The last drop of the day falls on its snout.
A crackajack jackfruit cracks wide open.
An ambrosial perfume seeps through cardamom plants.
Finer maidens’ bosoms alike, mountain summits.
*Kurinji littered emerald landscapes, grassland wonderland!
Waiting to bask in after-shower sunshine primer.
Where’d it be, where’d it descend first?
The first stream of honey colored gentle rays.

- M. Manoranjan, ©2009

  • Nishâkânthi: Epiphyllum (Epiphyllum oxypetalum), a cactus variety of South American origin, which bears strong fragrant white flower, that blossoms at midnight and lives only for a night.
  • Miân Ki Malhâr: A monsoon Râga in Hindustâni music (Indian classical music of North) tradition.
  • Sârangi, Dilrubha: Stringed musical instruments of northern India, played with a bow. Both instruments look a bit similar, but Dilrubha is subtler and more expressive than Sârangi.
  • Tabla: A pair of small Indian hand drums, a percussion instrument of North India.
  • Malabar: A region of southern India, lying between the Western Ghats mountain ranges and the Arabian Sea.
  • Lankan: Of the island nation Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, Sri Lankan.
  • Nilgiri: Blue mountain, gets its name thanks to the blue *Neelakurinji flowers, which dominate other flowering plants in the entire region at the time of blossom.
  • Langur: A long-tailed arboreal Asiatic monkey, distinguishable by its loud call.
  • Unni: Unni Krishnan, a singer in Carnatic music (Indian classical music of South) tradition.
  • Nâdhalôludai: A masterpiece composition in Carnatic music by Saint Thyagaraja (ca. 1750), which speaks about the beauty of Nâdha, the resonating sacred sound which is the core character of this cosmos encompassing from small infinity to large infinity.
  • Kalyâna Vasantham: A blissful Râga in Carnatic music.
  • Shola: A type of high-altitude stunted evergreen forest found only in the southern part of the Western Ghats mountain ranges of southern India. Patches of shola forest are usually separated from one another by undulating grasslands. Together the shola and grassland form the shola-grassland complex or shola-grassland mosaic.
  • Jumbo: Jambul, jamun or jambolan (Syzygium cumini), an evergreen tropical tree, native to Indian subcontinent, which bears a berry like thin dark black-purple skinned fleshy edible fruit. Wild jambolan (Syzygium fruiticosum), a wild variety, which grows tall and spotting huge monstrous trunk.
  • Manoranjana: Ylang-ylang (Cananga odorata), a tropical tree, which bears sweet-scented pale yellow-green flowers.
  • Kurinji: Neelakurinji shrub, Strobilanthes Kunthiana, which flowers once in twelve years and is the most popular one; Strobilanthes Sessilis, which flowers once in seven years. Both blossomed together in 2006, which occurs once in 84 years!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Autumn landscape

A poem inspired by this year's autumn fall. I wanted to publish this poem on 20th Nov, but couldn't make it. It was such a pain to carry the poem in head without penning it down. It feels like floating in air when I managed to publish it finally. You can also hear this poem read by me in my YouTube channel mmanoba. The video is also found below the poem.

Autumn Landscape

My mind on mutiny of melodious muteness

Pathetic painful moronic oxymoron

Whistles she along with radio singer

Cheerful chauffeuse, drives me to her chateau

Backseat Oskar meditates on scenes pass by

Trains and station fade behind him

Serpentine roads and leaves strewn landscapes

Brumous fog or heavenly drizzle, hard to gauge

A gentleman on curly horse salutes us warmly

Passing him, changes she the gear

Stands there a golden couple of good old chateau

Kisses of welcome and knuckle crushing handshake

A decor of taste, surprise, awe and charm

Inches of them speak of her, her fondness, intellect

Every time I visit them, stand I with my eyes widened

Shameless pride in her proud father’s eyes

She the treasure not his chateau

Breakfast ready, drags she me to her terrace garden

Oskar leads us to the greenhouse, tail dancing

Her treasured orchidarium and my beloved orchids

Varieties of them and a little pond of wonder

Lotus and lily, pinks, yellows and whites

My blue lotus too, no Victoria, ask I, smiles she killingly

Bees, honey and bumble, ply between nectaries and hives

Hives assembled half in rest out, her prudent pick

Blows she on glass and wipes the vapor film

Scenic beauty rushes in yanking my breath away

Rising cliffs, rolling slopes, thick woods, green blanket under

Merry pair of cooing doves dives down and then jives up

My silent prayer, a heinous hope for a queerish pair

Falling crimson leaves attempt to imitate them

Her saddened heavy sigh mends the mist curtain

Her love for tea and her garden trees of autumn fall

Pin oak, golden maple, liquidambar, lists she crazily

Japanese persimmon, maple, Chinese pistache, tallow

Claret, golden ash, scarlet oak and then maidenhair

The color of your hair, my Xavi’s too, slips my tongue

Freezes her smile, gloomy stains across her face

Asks she my pardon rectifying her mien

Feeling remorse take I her supple hand

Longs she the touch lasts longer, for unknown eternity

What is on today’s menu, change I the subject

Alice in wonderland and little fishing, replies she gleamingly

Oskar jerks hearing the very word, shrills, tail goes crazy

Mushroom hunt, trout fishing, no bad menu for German Hund

Oskar the great, grand champion of black truffle hunt

Bamboo pannier, tools inside, angler’s angle, turf creel

Hardened slushy wild wood windy trails

Glued to it, red leaves, deep yellow, rotting brown

Myriad shapes, size, nature’s hand at mosaic art

Tranquil clear lakes, leaves littered ponds

Fallen fresh leaves decay drown down, rejuvenate surface

Broth like hot steam on surface, water fowls paddle, V behind

Riot of colors of autumn landscape, slothful sun above as well

Serenity bleeds, a distant remote shot injures stillness

Terrified flutterings of assorted wings, twice and again a gunfire

A Bean-shidh croons, darling bird’s plume in her hands

Frightened eyes, pounding soul, female of merry pair returns solo

Tragic numbness clogs up throats, tireless Oskar flirts with hares

Nature’s bounty basket full, ample catch of singing brooks

String of caterpillars, one behind other, journey to pupal homes

Autumn’s treasures in timber boats, gold leaves, dew diamonds

Scarlet leaves, rubies, mossy branches, worthy emeralds

Standing guard, coots and ducks, renounce posts now and then

Distant swan pair at love making, Oskar guides promenade back

Against her head, wishes she my shoulder, fogy veil falls heavy

The chateau manifests mightily, drifting amidst paradise mist

The chateau of delicious souvenirs, where I met Xavi first

Her grand aunt’s uncle’s only great-grandchild

The day I gifted them the love of Oskar, then pup

The chateau, it’s every bricks, I love, yes, every bricks

Every bricks but her adored violin and a photo by it

An image of mine trapped frozen in, shreds my heart, zillion cuts

Every time, her violin ends solo cries, theaters stand applauding

Few with bleary eyes, most with runny nose

No just music, she adept at, kitchen too her orchestral ground

Regal diné lies ahead, vin jaune, Beaujolais and dirty jokes

A week or so more to go

Far from Xavi, in bosom of a family, my friend of childhood

A splendid fair lady, researching net on Victoria lilies

Monday, February 04, 2008

Khongorzul - Mongolian traditional music - The Long Song tradition

[Before starting, this was a strange journey. Of course, music is a strange journey.

Every thing started with the song number “Kora Kagaz Tha Yeh Man Mera” in the Hindi film Aradhana (1969). The song starts with a flute like music, which I mistook for the strong nasal sounding flute, which has a very important place in North-East Indian states, famously called the seven sisters of the North-East. The flute could be a derivative of chinese Dizi, sometimes called Di or Hengdi or its other variants.

It was the time when DoorDarshan (public television broadcaster of India) was bringing amazing sights and sounds from all over India and SAARC countries and sometimes occasional Iranian and Chinese movies. This particular strong nasal sounding flute made me to love North-East India, China and their respective musical traditions. This is the same flute variety introduced me Nawang Khechog, the great Tibetan flautist, who came to Dharmashala, India along with Dalai Lama, and it is he who made me to love Tibet and Ladakh and their traditional musics.

So, what is the story all about? Well, when I first heard Khongorzul singing, her voice immediately brought the pictures of vast never-ending deep plains, a typical geographical wonders of Mongolia and the Himalayan sacred kingdoms, cold deserts. Her voice, like the Ladakhis’ and Tibetans’, belongs to great plains. It is unique! And found nowhere in the world.]

Khongorzul Ganbaatar is a singer from Mongolia. Her tradition is long song (Mongolian: Уртын дуу, Urtyn duu, sounds like OOr tin DOO) traditional songs. Since, Mongolia has deep vast plains and people shepherding on the back of horses needed a very good way of communication as well as entertainment, they developed this long song tradition.

They are called long songs not because the songs are long, but mainly because each syllable of the text is extended and stretched for longer duration. But in some cases they are indeed long. It is developed and evolved in this way for entertainment along long journeys on vast plains. A four minute song may only consist merely ten words. The long song tradition is declared by UNESCO as one of the Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

But the beauty is the majestic voice of Mongolian people, like Khongorzul. To penetrate the deep plains or simply because one can sing at one’s own will since the mighty plains absorb any sound no matter how loud it is, the voice turns into something unique, unique in a sense it does reach not only the other end of the plain but perhaps even the heavens.

I first heard her singing in the album When Strangers Meet by Silk Road Ensemble founded by Yo-Yo Ma. My goodness, it not only cuts deep through the vast plains, but also pierces one’s soul bringing tears of joy. Yes Khongorzul, on hearing your country's music I started to love Mongolia.

Thanks Yo-Yo Ma for introducing this majestic voice and for the initiative of Silk Road Project. Let the Strangers Meet and exchange knowledge and culture.

Mongolian Traditional Music - The Long Song (Yo-Yo Ma and Khongorzul)

Urtin Duu (Khongorzul)

Khongorzul - Song for a Mother (A masterpiece of it's own kind! Don't miss it.)