I have always wanted to grow cabbages and cauliflowers. But then to grow them you need a piece of land, which I didn’t own. This desire of mine I felt will remain unfulfilled and I shall go to the grave without seeing a cabbage growing on my plot of land. Two years back I got the greatest opportunity of my life when a friend said that a plot was available. We rushed to see it. And what I found was beyond my dream—a plot of land beside a perennial river. The surroundings were prefect. For hardly any dwellings around. Though a road ran along there was not much of traffic. In fact, it’s so quiet that you can hear a vehicle coming from two miles afar. I bought it at a price you could afford a single-room tenement in Badlapur. But I was not cribbing for I had always wanted to grow my cabbages. I have been telling people that had I been not a journo I would become a gardener. The job of one who tends to plants, see them flower and give fruits is more fruitful than sitting in front of a computer as I’m doing now! It may not be paying but is satisfying.
Since June I have been busy with my plot in anticipation of the rains. Rains are the opportune time to plant saplings so I have been readying it knocking off the useless trees, levelling the field, moving away the stones and boulders to the corners etc. It took me three days to do that. I employed a JCB to do that and spent around Rs 3600 for the same. I also leveled a mound and spread the soil ariund. Meanwhile I have done the fences too. Ninety pits have been made for the fruit plants.
As suggested by my horticulturist friend I have unloaded two trucks of “Lal mitti” and dry dung. Equal measure of both has been used to fill the pits and a dry twig/branch left to identify the location of the pit.
Two weeks have passed since that activity on my plot. Meanwhile the rains have arrived and by the time I pay a visit to my plot it has been overtaken by the newly grown grass, creepers etc. but I can make out the position of the pits, thanks the dry branch still standing erect around the wet soil. Its Sunday, I’m waiting for the saplings to arrive. The tempo arrives from a Karjat nursery with three varieties of coconut and mango each, lemon, jackfruit, bamboo, awla, neem, anjeer, guava, sitaphal, kaju etc. 90 saplings in all. Another 8,000k gone for the plot.
Two Sundays have passed since and I have not been able to get men to plant the saplings. Ultimately I get a call from Ashok: “I have managed four people but they are asking for Rs 150 a day.” Otherwise they charge Rs 125 a day.
No problem, I say. Go ahead ask them to be on the plot by 10am. I will be there. Having taken the Badlapur Fast from Thane at 8.35 am I reach Badlapur 40 minutes later and take the seat of a an auto rickshaw. I wait for another 20 minutes before the taxi is full of 10 people and we leave. Half and hour later I get down on the road leading to my farm and find four men planting the saplings. The rest of the day I am the farm overseeing the planting. While the men leave for lunch I spread the Sunday newspaper on the dung-made floor of the newly-made hut. It has taken eight hours for the 90 saplings I between rains.