“We’ll draw a green thumb”


“Why can’t I have green fingers?” I asked my unsuspecting friend, one day.

“It seems everything I plant just refuses to grow. Everyone in my family has green thumbs. Why am I not able to grow even the easiest of plants?”

“Oh, is that all?” said my friend. “Don’t worry. One day, you and I will sit together and draw a big green thumb!”

I eventually married my reassuring friend. And sure enough, we began growing a few plants, most of which survived! One of my wishes had been fulfilled. But in my heart, I knew there was only one way my garden could be complete. If only we had a real garden.


A real garden, to me, was what my grandmother had at their house on the outskirts of Chennai – a lawn in the front, with three hibiscus trees, a car shed with a guava tree as a roof. Papaya on one side of the house, bananas on the other. The mango and lemon trees were in the backyard. There was even a pineapple plant, and two coconut palms – my father had brought coconut sprouts all the way from the Andaman Islands. There were numerous flowering plants and cacti too.

Almost every time that we’d visit, we’d carry a pineapple, mango, coconut or some lemons back home. Once, I saw my grandfather climb up a tall stool to harvest a bunch of bananas, while I stood nervously on the ground praying for his safety.

Having lived in apartments all my life, I had made peace with the fact that we probably wouldn’t be able to have that sort of an area for growing plants. But the one thing that completed the garden, was a compost pile.

At a very early age, we were initiated into composting by my grandmother. There was always a separate bin for kitchen waste, which she’d dump into the pit in the backyard, near the fence.

Back home, my mother did what she could, to use the kitchen waste for the flowerpots – the coffee grounds and tea leaves almost always ended up going to the flowerpots in the balcony. And that was the closest, I thought, that we could get to reusing kitchen waste. Up until recently, that is.


“What are you doing?” I asked my father-in-law. He looked mischievously at me, and picked up the screw driver from the kitchen.

My father-in-law, I found out soon after I got married, loved plants. Our garden was minuscule compared to his large terrace garden. And when he first saw the small take-out containers I had re-purposed into planters, he remarked. “They need a bigger area to grow roots! These are too small!”

Perhaps he saw potential in the garden, or recognised our shared love for plants – he quickly warmed up to the idea of a small garden. He procured a few more plants and helped grow the garden – even helping me repurpose more food containers!

It wasn’t unusual for him to tinker around with the plants. But on this particular day, he busied himself with something new.

I followed him to our tiny balcony.

“I am making compost,” he declared.

Read part 2: A whole new world

Broken

Minaret at Qudsia Bagh

My grandmother often says that of the several artistic abilities our family possesses, the ability to throw, is the one that we need the most! At our home, when things break, our instinctive reaction is that of fixing them. So for this week’s photo challenge, broken, I had quite a few options at home! Except, of course, they had mostly been fixed, or have become something else. For instance, the beads from several broken bracelets and necklaces have now become a gypsy-style garland. And all the broken seashells from our collections have now become a decorative wall hanging.

* * *

We were in Old Delhi to meet relatives and decided to explore Qudsia Bagh in the evening. Clean jogging tracks surrounded by palm trees and Laburnums in full bloom, the park was a sight for sore eyes and sun-drained explorers like us. Large pots of water and benches with bird feed attracted birds by the dozen.

“What are you waiting for? Take out the camera!” It took me a little while to react. My brother nudged me as I stared at a kite sitting atop the earthen pot. Before I could take a clean shot, it flew above us and onto a tree branch. Another one swooped down and flew low, before joining its friend on the branch. They didn’t seem to mind the people around them — little children swinging on monkey bars and groups of evening walkers.

We continued walking, and it wasn’t long before we spotted a wall behind a few trees. An old building! After several months, we discovered something old in Delhi. An entrance gate of some sort, with a staircase on the side leading up to the roof; an old locked up lodge that seemed appropriate for some mystery novel; and a mosque under renovation — we hopped from one building to another, trying to cover as much ground as possible in the little time we had left in the day. But with daylight fading and our stomachs grumbling, we had to head back.

As we were returning, I noticed this minaret-like structure. It turned out to be at the exact same place we saw the kites earlier. In our excitement of seeing the kites, I’d missed this one entirely.

Minaret at Qudsia Bagh
Minaret at Qudsia Bagh

I clicked a few more photographs of the park just as a peacock came out for its evening walk.

We may go and visit Qudsia Bagh again. We might climb the gate, inspect that old house more closely, and perhaps, find more treasures.


From Wikipedia: Qudsia Bagh is an 18th-century garden complex and palace located in Old Delhi, India. Constructed in 1748 for Qudsia Begum, this complex was largely destroyed during the Indian rebellion of 1857.

For more broken images, visit the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Broken