It was a warm, early summer morning that the green wing of CTC, under the enthusiastic leadership and organization of Abirami, convened upon Aynavaram. After finally managing to locate the place, we climbed up a couple of floors and at the top, we ended up forgetting that we were in the middle of the city.
The pots, the troughs, the bags and the roof, exploding with a myriad hues of green, it was like a mini vacation in a rainforest for our sore, concrete soaked eyes. There is indeed something miraculous about plants and trees, about things that grow in front of your eyes. It’s seeing nature in all her glorious action.
We quickly got acquainted with our host for that morning, Mrs veeralakshmi and set about exploring her creation, her brainchild. From then on, it was an onslaught on questions and for me, so much information that I had to start taking notes :P (ended up making 10pages of it!)
Having a backyard garden and a terrace garden at our home, my mum and I came looking for inspiration to transform it as most of our plants washed away with the rains and floods. And seeing the blushing tomatoes, the greens and the vegetables, im sure everyone would have gone back home with inspired hearts and refreshed spirits, eager to start a garden of their own (or work on their existing ones).
Mrs V was a powerhouse of knowledge on all things green and brown. And the best part was, she was willing to share it with others. Right from making the soil with cocopeat and a multitude of other ingredients to planting techniques, she was patient and explained every step, no matter how many times we asked the same thing :P
She was also quite the innovator, making a composting bin of her own and ingeniously using the water which collects at the bottom which is otherwise wasted. It really shows that composting in the city isn’t as arduous as one thinks. So I’m hoping that all of us start source segregating soon, making our own compost and reducing waste as well.
We went around in little groups around Mrs V, while others walked around, just admiring the garden. We saw bitter gourds (pavakkai), bottle gourds (podalangai) – which were extremely long, tomatoes in green and red, chilies, greens, cauliflower, peanuts, drumstick, a papaya tree, pomegranate tree and many more that I have lost count now!
Our gracious host also provided us with some hot coffee, cakes and biscuits to keep our energy levels going. The discussion continued till we were paused by the arrival of the parrots and pigeons that Mrs. V regularly feeds. We were instructed strictly not to cross over to the other side so as to not scare the birds away. It was amazing to watch so many birds in the same place. In our busy city lives, we often miss seeing/ noticing birds, also given that bird numbers have drastically declined. So it was a genuine surprise, seeing them pecking at the rice and learning that nature does manage to get on despite our interference.
After all this, I was reminded of one of my favorite scenes from Lord of the Rings, where hobbits are described. They are peace loving people, with an easy, laid back life in the shire and abundant love for all things that grow. I’m sure we have a hobbit-gene somewhere in all of us and that with Mrs. V’s encouragement, we will become hobbit-like gardeners ourselves.