Monsoon in Himayatnagar

One might think that living in Himayatnagar would mean a lot of pollution and traffic, but the not so tucked away Minerva lane has so much green cover, thanks to CPI building, a Muslim family that takes care of a sizeable piece of property next to us, and the Indian Red Cross. The CPI compound has loads of Asoka trees — which I must admit is sort of a problem. I will discuss this in the next para. The IRC society has loads of shrubs and bushes, any number of coconut trees, and one huge mango tree tantalising us with it’s golden yellow mangoes that they don’t harvest (also problematic, again: next paragraph for details), the property next to us has mango, custard apple, and sapodilla trees. While the green helps us on hot summer Noons, when our house is at least 5 degrees hotter, getting perfectly baked from all the sides, my bedroom which does not get a lot of sun but does receive fresh air because of all the trees is a soothing, balming spot for all of us.Now that it is raining, it seems like all the trees and saplings are grinning, with the brown being shed and shining new growth taking it’s place. Visit the nearest garden/park near you. Believe you me, I am not exaggerating. 

Now because of all the wealth we have, is it any surprise that every morning, just before dawn, we hear so many birds chirping. Parrots (one left it’s feather in a pot on our terrace, so I know they visit or at least used to. Pigeons are a menace, they do not allow other birds anywhere near the area, and all they do is peck their way into delicate saplings. They don’t even eat the leaves, they just like plucking them off), sparrows, koels, a little black bird that’s got the loudest voice ever (pitta koncham kootha ghanam), woodpeckers, bats (thanks to Asoka trees, where they nest away happily) and wowie wow, a snowy owl. I don’t know where it came from, but I suspect it has a nest in one of the Asoka trees as well. When I go up to the terrace, late in the evening, after an early dinner, for a walk I tell myself, but mostly to hunt grubs, I wait for the owl to take its flight. When it takes off, against the backdrop of velvet blue sky (and some stars, where have the stars gone?) It’s a sight to look at! So majestic! 

Oh and we also have occasional monkey raids. I must admit they have never destroyed my terrace garden, they eat what they want (onions and cucumbers) which I haven’t grown for a while now. But the attack isn’t as bad as it is in our aunt’s place in Nallankunta because 1) it isn’t as hot, given the presence of so many trees in summers and 2) they would have already feasted on the mangoes and custard apple next door, and really who can blame the monkeys for not wanting to eat green leafy vegetables and the boring cucumbers? 

Which is why I say those trees are ‘sort of’ a problem, they attract monkeys but we won’t have it any other way, thank you! If we have winds, just the winds, right before light thunderstorms, the Asoka trees do a lot of self-dusting, by the time it rains, our sofas and doors are covered with a fine layer of dust that annoys my mother to no end. Just as she brings the duster, there is a power cut! So we retire to my parents’ bedroom which has a large window, with a hot cuppa coffee. It’s the best spot on a rainy day. We sit and look at the trees glistening with rain drops, and those birds, oh those lovely lovely birds hopping from tree to another, inviting the shy ones to join them. Muddy pathways in the IRC compound, dogs barking at monkeys hanging from trees (usually just two or three at a time because a monkey infant was killed three summers ago), and in the evenings, bats have a free reign, I am not kidding when I say a wall on our terrace is a work of bat dropping art. 

This is beautiful. We have butterflies and bees now (bee is the sign of a healthy garden). I must remember to grow plants that attract more bees. The monsoons are beautiful in Himayatnagar.

Pruning negative thoughts 

My potatoes have some kind of a disease. It could be wilt disease or blight, I am not too sure. But it seems, I learn something or the other from my plants everyday. When my plants started drooping, I googled for possible solutions. I found out that the plant needn’t be uprooted, just the leaf or branch suffering is to be plucked. Unfortunately for my plants, I read this a little too late. 

What I learnt though, is this: say you have had a fight with a friend/cousin/lover etc, what do you do? Do you ruin your relationship in its totality? Or do you prune these bits out and encourage healthy growth? More often than not, our thoughts are like the disease of a plant. It first hinders proper circulation of water and oxygenation, creates an environment of suffocation that leads to early (warning) signs of  death. So instead of letting the whole plant die, you cut the leaf that’s most affected, support healthy growth by feeding it neem powder or some other kind of organic pesticide. 

What, then, do I have to say about toxic relationships? From my experience in the garden, I will say, usually a potato with three eyes is planted in the soil, in the offchance that one does not grow properly, there are two more. Our lives are full of people. When one toxic relationship dies, like the potato plant, cut the affected plant and let the other two grow. In the absence of three plants trying to get nutrients, you will have just two and chances of better yield also increases. 

PS: you should smell the soil in which potato tubers grow. It smells of a newly born babe. Raw and kind of a metallic smell. First I was a little scared if it was the wilt causing this, only to realise I had smelled such a scent before, around newly born babes. In India, babies are given bath only on the 12th day, therefore it isn’t the best kind of smell that lingers around babies. Just like the smell of the soil in which small potatoes grow. It was then that I realised, we are all truly connected beings. My Garden teaches me life lessons and how!