Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Green Nooks

There's not too much of nature to go ga ga over here in our neighbourhood, which is one of the relatively new localities along the E.M.Bypass. In fact, it's still in a state of considerable concretisation, which recently made me succumb to an allergy attack that came and went like a child's smile, only not half as welcome. Now what does one do when one is as used to greenery as I have been since my early childhood, be it in Wales or Salt Lake ? One creates one's own little green patch, of course !

Now let me warn you in advance (in case you begin to harbour great expectations of my ecological entrepreneurship) that my gardening genes are by no means original. I embarked on the process of green-ing my home, inspired by two worthy predecessors, Ma in Salt Lake and Mamoni, here. Ma, as a matter of fact, doesn't know too much about gardening and her excessive enthusiasm once proved to be quite uncongenial for the chrysanthemums concerned when, advised to add a manure of shorsher khol to the budding plants, she overdid the amount of khol in the mixture, rendering the manure too strong for horticultural purposes. Her remorse was genuine and acute, but it didn't help to resurrect the plants. That, however, happened to be an isolated occasion. Ma does have a real passion for gardening and the numerous delicious papayas, guavas and lemons in our back garden are the fruit of hours of planning, judicious care and earnest instructions to often well-meaning but rather ignorant gardening personnel. The latter category included our former driver, Hori Da, whose sporadic sorties into Ma's beloved garden depended mostly on his benevolent moods and eccentric labour. However, that never deterred Ma from buying numerous potted plants, flowering or leafy, arranging them along the ledges of our spacious verandahs and taking care of them more than her own children (yes, Mitu did often level such a complaint against her desensitised person).

The result was that I grew up, with considerable botanical ardor, often having fallen asleep in the afternoon ensconced in my reading chair amidst a curtain of greens, creating a perfect Elysium in my own house. My interest in plants seeped into my journalistic assignments, where I did the rounds of a few front, rooftop and terraced gardens in Salt Lake, finding particular delight in hearing experienced gardeners air their views and proudly display their gardens to the public. (It was a totally unexpected matter that I even landed what sounded like a marriage proposal on one such assignment). Recently, I even did a couple of articles for The Telegraph on the East Kolkata wetlands, the latter endangered by illegal urban encroachment and pollution.

The point is that my love for greenery remains, although a trifle subdued by the air of Kalikapur, which seems to be heavy with dust, dirt and pollen most of the time, rendered even more intolerable by the pungent carbon monoxide that the tea-stall just below our apartment insists on belching into the clean morning air each day. In fact, I requested K to take me out yesterday (our anniversary having been on 28th Feb) to some spot where there would be nothing except greenery all around me for a couple of hours. This would explain the august presence of two silly young adults on the sun-baked, winding pathways of the Botanical Gardens at Shibpur, yesterday at about noon. To be fair to ourselves, there were several other silly young adults all around us. The only difference being, of course, that they were heading for the nearest source of shade they could find/ were evidently blindly in love and therefore not behaving rationally/ they were armed with umbrellas, full sleeved attire and a proper lunch inside them. None of which applied to us. Although we sported nonchalant expressions and took some wonderful photos at the place, half-an-hour of March sun making its best efforts to bore into your skull and suck your grey matter dry isn't really conducive to any sort of comfort, however ardent about flora you might be. All the arrows leading to the garden cafetaria seemed to be as misleading as a mirage. We didn't manage to trace the building and assuage the pangs of hunger assailing us at that point. Exhausted and ravenous, we took a quick route back to Park Street, where cheilo kebab, pineapple blossom and beer worked wonders to improve our temper and reconcile us to the vagaries of our recent experience.

I realised one thing at the end of the day : like art, the appreciation of nature too is conditioned by the state of one's mind.


Haddock said...

Yep, every time every where it won't be the same greenery but if one learns to appreciate nature as it is, then things look bright.
I always look at the chopped tree stumps, and lo there, you can see one small shoot springing up. That is nature's challenge.

Kaustav said...

Nicely written !! these days its tough to find GREEN in kolkata as a whole and trying to find it in a hot summer afternoon is really a wild idea. I do think however that Bots would be a nice place to visit in a winter morning .. till then keep gardening in whatever magnitude you can :-))


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