Tallest pine tree shimmers with love on Christmas

Tallest pine tree shimmers with love on Christmas

This is one Pine tree which even Santa Claus would love to park his reindeer-drawn sledge after flying from the icy regions. The reason: this coniferous tree, draped in twinkling lights and robed in white cottony streamers looking like snow flakes, has elves and angels swinging 56 feet above ground as she stands tall in a small garden in the heart of Mumbai.

“She (the tree) is my pride...and my sister's memories. She shimmers when drop-light carves out different patterns of milky galaxies every Christmas when I decorate her,” says Douglas Saldanha, a financial consultant with a multinational company.

A native of Mangalore now living in the swanky neighbourhood of Worli in Mumbai for the past five decades, Douglas, talking of his close-to-heart Christmas tree featuring in the Limca Book of Records as the tallest house-garden conifer Pine tree in India, says: “ Every year during Christmas I ornate her in all finery. Earlier I was unable to reach the top...but some years ago I bought a scaffolding and even dress her crown with twinkling stars and this year several of my friends and relatives from abroad are also planning to come down...just to gloat over her.”

Reminiscing about how the tree came to Saldanha's house and became a part of the family in the heavily wooded garden of the house, Douglas says, “ I must have been 12 or 13 years old and my sister-Twila-14 or 15 and one of our neighbours had this tree that had become too big for his balcony.

“We were already looking out for a Pine tree and most of them were costing around Rs 150 to Rs 200...and they were barely two feet high. So when this neighbour offered to sell the seven feet high tree for Rs 250, my father bought it and Twila and I watered her daily...took utmost care of her and nurtured her. My sister just loved her and even after she was married and moved to the US, she continued to enquire about her till 2005 when cancer took her away.”

Though the Saldanha family had always been decorating the tree every X-mas, Twila's death shattered the family. Thereafter, Douglas, in order to make his sister's favourite Christmas tree beam up, imported 30 feet long three drop lights from China after failing to find them in the lanes of Lohar Chawl and Crawford Market, Mumbai’s key flea markets.
“Now every year during this season, my Christmas tree lights up with over 6,000 twinkling lights, three drop lights that are 30 feet long, silver streamers looking like pure snow flakes...with cutouts of angels, elves, reindeer, crosses and shinning balls, swaying and playing on the eye-lashes and tresses of my tree,” Douglas says.

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