Saturday, 22 May 2010

Budding stories

Gardening is like fatherhood or, better still, motherhood. Planting a seed, watering it regularly, waiting for the seed to sprout and looking at the first tiny bud is really very very enjoyable.

I will share with you two experiences. When we had visited Andamans in January, 2009, i had brought (honestly speaking 'smuggled out' as collecting any plant material from there, is against rules.) from there, a mature coconut with the intent to use it as a seed and grow a plant from it, as a memory. I kept the coconut in the house for a couple of months to allow the water inside to reduce and season it into a sproutable seed. Then i planted it (at Visakhapatnam) to grow a seedling. I watered it regularly for about 2 months, meticulously inspecting it to see any sign of a sprout. I waited and waited, unceasingly watering it regularly. Yet there was no sign of any bud till we left Visakhapatnam. I had almost given up hope thinking that it will not sprout. Yet I carried it to Bhubaneswar, planted it and watered it regularly and patiently. Daily, i would inspect it minutely to see any sign of it coming to life. I had again almost reached the stage of disappointment. And then it happened!!!!!!!!!!!! On the 10th of August, 2009, the wife told me that 'some white stub-like thing' had appeared on the top of the coconut !!! I rushed to the spot and gleefully noticed that the tiny white sprout for which I had waited for so long, had indeed appeared. I was really overjoyed. I had planted other seeds and had seen their sprouts but had never before planted coconuts, which have a long gestation period. I felt like yelling 'Eureka'!!! I came inside the house and marked the plant's birthday on the calendar. I have been nursing the plant and will transplant it at its identified spot on the 13th July, the Rath Yatra day Lord Jagannath. I have made the bed ready and am preparing it to receive the plant on that day.

Now the second case. We visited an exhibition from where i purchased a sapling of the famous Allahabadi guava tree. I dug a small pit, filled it with home-made compost and planted the sapling carefully and lovingly. I watered it in the morning and evening daily. The sapling had 2 small branches with a few small leaves each. I was constructing a small house in the backyard where i have planted a number of flowering shrubs. I had planted this guava sapling in this area. I had told the workers to be extremely careful so as not to damage any plant. Whenever work was going on, i kept an eagle's eye on the plants to protect them from any careless hitting by any worker. One day, after cautioning the workers, i had moved further backyard to the area where I grow vegetables. One worker was cutting iron rods for use in the house under construction. I was very apprehensive that the rods would hit the plants. So when i moved away from there i again reminded the worker to be extremely careful and mindful about the plants. When i came back i was devastated to see that both the branches of the guava plant had been severed and the small stem had been turned into a pathetic stub! (I was reminded of Murphy's Law that if anything can go wrong, it will.) The worker tried to explain that one rod had hit the plant when he was pulling it. I experienced a burning rage in me and felt like severing his stupid head from his careless body. But helplessly i could only scold him. I sat down, touched the wounded plant, caressed it and felt the oozing fluid from the now-ugly stub. It was a small remnant of the plant and i was almost sure that the it would die. However i continued watering it without much hope of reviving it. After about 10 days i noticed a very very tiny bud emerging from the grey stub. Next day it turned slightly green and the day after it turned into a tiny leaf. I was in the seventh heaven and danced with joy. I went back to inspect my guava plant once again :))))))))))))) I have been keenly watching its progress several times every day. Now it has 5 small leaves. I am very happy that I rescued my plant from the jaws of certain death and brought it back to life :)))))))))

Gardening is like child-rearing. We can't order a plant to grow. We have to create conducive atmosphere and supportive conditions; the sapling will grow by itself into a beautiful plant or tree just as in the conducive atmosphere a child grows into a nice person.

In his epic-book Tapaswini, the great Oriya poet Gangadhar Meher, the saint Valmiki advises the pregnant Sita, who was living in his ashram after being banished by Lord Rama, to take care of the plants so that she would experience the pleasure of rearing up a child even before seeing the face of her child.


Sunday, 16 May 2010

The good citizen

Once while i was driving, a friend was coming from the opposite direction. (No. Relax. i did not hit him.) I saw him gesturing something. His lips were moving and the fingers in one of his hands were moving like how children do while singing 'Twinkle, twinkle little star'. I stopped the car and asked him what he was trying to say. He said that the headlights of my car were on. Then i understood what he had been gesturing. I switched off the lights, thanked him and drove on.

From then onwards, whenever i was walking or driving, I noticed that a number of two-wheelers, while on the move, had their headlights on. Then i started repeating what my friend had done that day. This has now become a habit with me. Whenever and wherever i walk, i find that a good number of people ride their two-wheelers with the headlights on, even during the day. (I have very rarely seen a car in such a state though.) So, as a good citizen, i try to gesture to them to switch off the lights.

The responses i get are of 3 types. In most cases (almost 90% of my targeted beneficiaries), they respond as intended by me, switch off the lights and move on with a smiling and thankful look at me. People belonging to the second group (about 8%) fail to notice my gesturing as their eyes are fixed ahead like the beam of light emanating from their vehicles. They ride on merrily. The third group of people (the remaining 2%) get confused as to what i am trying to convey. They notice me, waver, and their vehicles sway a little, making me afraid that they would lose balance and cause an accident!

There is yet another group, that of some pedestrians. They observe me and their reactions range from giving me a queer look to a slight derision wondering whether i have gone out of my mind.

Yet, i do not want give up this habit. It gives me a little satisfaction that i am helping in energy-conservation, preventing wastage of a valuable national wealth and contributing a little to reduce global-warming!!!!!!!!!! (Tall claim, isn't it?)

Of course i do not do this when i see a lady driving a two-wheeler (It is always a scooter or scooty and never a motor cycle.) with the head light on, for being misunderstood.