30 June, 2015

Chai Stop - no more.....

Five years ago, as a new blogger, I had told my readers not to miss the chai (tea) here if they happened to be passing by....

Two weeks ago, we were there - after a very long time. For old times' sake, we had had our usual chai & chaTTamboDe (daal pakoDas). While writing my earlier post, I was worried about an upcoming temple blocking the view from the tea-cart. My worries had not materialised. Things were more or less the same. This time though, there were lots of fearless monkeys....

While exchanging pleasantries with the affable owner of the tea stall, I asked him about his children. In the past he would always tell us about the daughter who did him proud by topping Tirthahalli taluk  in the Class 10 exams - not a mean achievement for a student studying in a place like Agumbe.

Happy as ever to talk about his children's academic achievements, he told us - amidst chasing monkeys- that both his daughters were engineers working for MNCs in Bangalore, while the son was studying to be an engineer. As an afterthought, he had added that whatever the achievements of his children, he would never give up on his tea stall.....

He then spoke about Swachch Bharat Abhiyaan and how India would have been a very clean place if the first PM of the country had initiated something on a large scale. His logic was that since the citizens had a servile attitude back then, they would have obeyed orders and keeping our surroundings clean would have become a habit with us by now.

 Pleasantries over, we had taken leave of him - exchanging good wishes, etc... little realising that this would be our last meeting with Mr.Premanand.....

Yesterday, local media announced to shocked citizens that Padiyaar Maam (as Mr.Premanand was popularly known) was no more.

From a common acquaintance, we came to know that he had contracted the Kyasanoor Forest Disease, commonly called Monkey Fever because monkeys pass on the deadly virus to humans. Many a time, this fever can be fatal, as it turned out to be for Padiyaar Maam.

A lover of books, one shelf of his cart was dedicated to books, mostly in Kannada. These books, he had told us, were gifts from customers. He would spend all his free time reading them. Customers could read them too - while waiting for their order.

Because people from all walks of life visited his tea-cart, had informal chats with him,... he was a well informed man.  He could talk about a wide range of topics. Thanks to our conversations with him, we knew that he had been featured on Discovery Channel (something to do with catching King Cobras), had done bit roles in the TV series Malgudi Days,....

Like the obituary from his friends (the pic above) says - he will be missed by all those who pass  through Agumbe Ghat. May his soul rest in peace.....   

28 June, 2015

Plant Mythology

 One thing I like about Indian mythology is that we have very beautiful stories about how rivers, plants, flowers, etc. came to be. The stories are so reassuring that sometimes, I wish science and its complicated theories didn't exist!

According to Indian mythology, all plants have been created from the hair of Lord Brahma. I had read this in a book called Brahma's Hair by Maneka Gandhi. The book is a collection of myths and stories from all over the country - of about thirty sacred plants and trees, along with some historic and botanical details. 

The book has very few stories from the South. Some flowers and trees that have mythological and religious importance here are missing. Of course, writing an exhaustive book on this subject would be quite a task!

Recently, I have been curious about the mythology behind some flowers common to my surroundings. The plant is a parasite and is always found attached to the branches of huge trees.... The flowers bloom once a year - just before monsoon sets in.

Here are the flowers I'm talking about...... Wild Orchids.....


                                     Wherever they grow in Karnataka, they are known as either Seeta danDe (Seeta's garland) or Draupadi danDe (Draupadi's garland).  Since Seeta and Draupadi are epics apart, I have always been curious about the origin of these names. After some googling, I came across one gardening blog where the author has explained that Seeta danDe has more flowers and Draupadi danDe has fewer..... because, apparently, Seeta had more time to weave flowers than the polyandrous Draupadi!!

 Whatever the mythology behind them, the flowers in the above pic have a story - a real one........ Last year, a small branch from the tree across the road had fallen near our gate. While clearing the debris, I had separated the orchid plant that was attached to the branch and had placed it on a tree inside our fence - simply because I didn't have the heart to throw it away. Three weeks ago, the plant had flowers - the  ones in the pic - and some new plants around. As a gardener, it was one of my happiest moments.....

The garland is full, but the flowers have some space between them. That's why, I do not know if this is Seeta's garland or Draupadi's!

Now, last week, a branch from another tree nearby had fallen due to heavy winds.
 This branch is loaded with enough orchid plants for me to experiment. I'm going to plant a couple in pots, place a couple on another tree and retain some as it is - on this piece of wood.

Let's hope that I can update some interesting results here next year!!

The Story of a Seed

It was a visiting Sunday - six years ago at the Poorna Prajna School, Sangameshwarpet. As usual, all the hostelers were waiting for their pa...