Late in my life I got attracted and attached to trees. I can say they came into my life gradually, and at opportune time, when I needed them more than they needed me. I started collecting potted plants and growing them outside my apartment in Nashik. I like to watch them sprout to life. In fact, am fascinated by how life springs from a tiny seed buried deep inside the mud. As the pots began to add to their size, I also started composting in them by depositing the daily kitchen waste. The compost enriched the soil and supported the growth of the plants. One feature of the collection is that many of the plants have come from my friends homes. There is the organic Curry plant from a farmer friend in Sangamner whose leaves and fragrance make the meal that much special. The Mogra plant from the backyard of a modest farmer, who is now no more, is brimming with buds and flowers. As they bloom they remind me and my family of the modest home where we enjoyed so much warmth and generosity. The special rose plant with tiny red flowers from the Kanikar family is delight to watch as it slowly grows to its potential. The rose plant is infused with Kanikar’s zest for life, and when we are down with odd disappointments, a mere look at the rose sapling is enough to boost our energies. From the Gandhi Ashram at Chhatarpur in Central India my friends – Sanjoy and Damyanti- gifted me a Lily-like plant, which flowered only once in the last three years but it was worth the wait to see its majestic beauty. It always reminds me of this warm and hospitable couple, who with their herbal remedies and fresh fruit juice therapy have created an alternative approach to healing. The special Tulsi from the tribal Andhra Pradesh is right outside our window and growing lovingly and leisurely, just like our friends, Dominic and Nafisa, who were actually our professors in Mumbai. Their down-to-earth attitude and simplicity has continued to inspire us with their undemanding philosophy. And next to the Tulsi is another creeper from Zhansi, a medicinal plant –Asparagus – given by an old school friend. The vine is climbing furiously, its tiny branches spreading in all directions as it sways gently in the monsoon wind. Atul Sharma is a gentle soul, untouched by the affluence he is surrounded with. He and his affectionate family retain the values of humility and their caring nature acts as a perfect balm. Looking at the plants remind me of another dear friend, a film-maker from Mumbai. Ravi Gundya Deshpande is an ardent film-maker but his love for plants perhaps outscores his passion for celluloid story-telling. His house has a vast collection of different variety and he tends to them with child-like enthusiasm. It was his love for plants that instilled in me the need to care for them. And for that I am eternally grateful.
Every morning I step out of my house to be with so many varieties of plants and I try to understand their essence. Each one is unique and together they look so gorgeous and divine. Being with them connects me to my friends, and to different homes where I have been hosted with warmth and love, and I feel happy. I feel fresh, a warm sunshine flows through me, and I feel at home and blessed!