I’ve been a collector of books since long. Most of them came to me for review—this was when as an editor I reviewed some five books every month and additionally chatted with authors worldwide, either through email or phone, for the monthly’s interview column—while the rest have been acquired new or bought from second-hand sales. And now, as buying books having become as easy our daughter, Poorvi, a very fast reader, has been getting dozens of them from Amazon!
Being a weekend farmer I’ve had similar luck with friends gifting me with plants and seeds. It began with MR gifting me two litchi plants which he brought all the way from Muzzafarpur lugging it for two long days in the train compartment. That was some eight years back. Of the two saplings, he gifted only one has survived and has yet to yield fruits. I’ve not given up and working on it feeding it with the right kind of manure and fertilizer. I hope it will shower me with the fruits in the forthcoming season. If you readers pray and it fruits I promise shall send some to you. Haven’t I done the same with mangoes, mulberry and turmeric!
The lemon sapling which my friend, Dr SG, brought all the way from Bongaigaon in West Bengal and which has prospered I’m hoping will fruit soon.
Last January while travelling to Mangaon, 92 km from Alibaug, on an assignment for a webzine I met Anand, a landscape architect, who runs one-of-its-kind nursery devoted to bamboo varieties collected from all over the country. Situated on a hill the nursery rarely gets visitors but for the occasional buyers of bamboo saplings. When evening falls and the workers retire to their respective home in the nearby village he keeps company with a glass of whiskey and a jackal whom he had tended and taken care of its injuries. Anand gifted a variety each of Dendrocalamus Brandisii and the other whose name I fail to remember. Both have survived and grown really tall.
RK’s custard apple seeds which he gifted when I visited his village, Pimpari Dumala, about 60 km from Pune, have grown up to become healthy saplings. The Balanagar variety of custard apple growing in nursery bags have gained height but not big enough that I could replant them.
In March this year KR, a former colleague blessed with green fingers gifted me with two saplings of Govindbhog Plantain. She brought the saplings travelling in a train all the way from Cooch Behar in West Bengal, a 40hour ride. In fact, after boarding she had sent a What’sup image: it looked as if she had set up a plant nursery in her compartment! Govindbhog is a native variety of banana which grows only in Cooch Behar and is known for its pleasant aroma. “If your step in the banana grove you’re likely to be enveloped by its heady aroma,” KR told me.
The newest member to arrive at my farm is a variety of turmeric, called Lakadong, grown on the Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya. If you slice a freshly harvested Lakadong you’re likely to be surprised by its colour—a mix of yellow and red. It’s claimed that Lakadong turmeric has high curcumin content which is about 7.94%. The fingers (rhizomes) of the Lakadong variety travelled 18 days to reach my friend, VB, who is trying to ascertain its curcumin content in a lab. He paid a handsome amount to lay his hands on Lakadong.
As I end this post I want to tell a friend who has been following my blog and often leaves a comment or two: “Remember a handful of vetiver (khus) grass you had given me I’ve planted them on the river bank. And it’s a pretty sight.”
The gifts I’ve been showered with, I believe, makes the world a better place. So what if that world is my one-acre farm?