Mangaluru: Clerodendrum paniculatum (Pagoda flower in English and Ratha Hoovu in Kannada) is an ornamental flower. It used to grow wildly by the sides of the roads and also grown in gardens at home.
As the gardening hobby is vanishing, so are these flowers. But this flower helped a farmer from Pachanady on the outskirts of the city to avert a major mishap involving a fast-moving train.
Moorumane resident Franklin Fernandes was his daily routine to gather fodder for his cattle near the railway track. Being familiar with the appearance of the tracks and their joints, he, by chance, noticed a crack at a spot.
Sensing the disastrous consequences, he called up his friends and also the railway enquiry number. He got a reply in Tamil, which he could not grasp. Suddenly he remembered that a directory issued by the Bondel church had important contact numbers.
But since the green signal appeared along the track, he realized there was hardly any time left. He had to stop the train at any cost. There was no red cloth available anywhere. With some quick thinking, he grabbed a pagoda flower from plant nearby.
As the Mangaluru-Madgaon intercity train was to arrive two minutes of the green signal appeared, he had no option than wave the flower high. As he kept running on the track waving it, the driver of the approaching train realized that there was something amiss and brought the train to a grinding halt.
The technicians were called and a temporary repair was done. All trains were instructed to run slowly at the point. Later on, proper repair work was continued until midnight.
Franklin has won high appreciation for his presence of mind. Passengers and local residents have urged the railway authorities to reward him suitably.