In the hills of Munnar, a subtropical highland town located at the southern tip of India, grows the Neelakurinji flower (see Figure 24-1). Nestled among lush tea plantations and shola grasslands, the plain looking shrub sways in the region’s misty, temperate winds, rarely revealing its remarkably patient payload. The flower’s secret lies hidden within its name: neela means blue in the Malayalam language. Every 12 years, as if the flower were celebrating its last moments before becoming a teenager, Munnar’s landscape explodes with light blue and purple Neelakurinji blossoms, transforming once-barren hillsides into electric blue confetti. The emergence marks a moment of time for the human beings living in the region as well, for the Muthvan people use the flowering cycle to calculate their own ages.