Book Review: Cities and Canopies

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Cities and Canopies: Trees in Indian Cities by Harini Nagendra

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A fun and informative book with details of not just the trees of Indian cities but with lots of childhood memories, historic events, poems and recipes interleaved! Reading this book feels like talking with fellow nature loving friends. Although it is an easy read, it is well researched and has been written by authors who are expert ecologists and researchers in this area. I throughly enjoyed reading this book and came to know of many interesting facts which I wasn’t aware of.

Some of the most common trees like banyan, peepul, tamarind, palm among others are covered. Apart from the usual facts, there are references to different events which happened in context of trees, references of some of these trees which can be found in our scriptures, how they have evolved over time to become part of the system, poems written by some famous poets around trees and also fun dishes which can be made using parts of these trees.

Along with trees, overall ecosystem around the trees is also discussed. From birds and insects which reside on trees, the effect of trees on environment, how tree plantations and grooves were protected by the commons in the past, movements to save trees, positive effects of having trees around to medicinal properties of parts of trees, everything is are covered.

This book also took me down the memory lane. While reading the authors’ stories of games played around trees I was reminded of the great times I had with friends around trees. From climbing trees and riding it as ships, playing hide and seek among trees, collecting raw mangos and guavas, collecting caps of eucalyptus flowers and many more memories.

This broad perspective with respect to trees makes us aware and ponder on trees around us. It highlights how important and urgent it is to have trees specially in the concrete jungles of cities. I’ll definitely be more cognizant of trees in my future walks. Almost everyone likes trees, but this book can rekindle our love for trees and a green surrounding in general! Hoping for a second part of this book covering more trees (specially mango tree) and more stories and events around trees!

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