Thursday, April 3, 2008

On a search mission in Karanji

I went to the zoo the other day on a search mission; to locate a mango I had planted by the Karanji Lake some 22 years back. The occasion then was a tree-planting programme the Karnataka Zoo Authority had organized. And I was invited to plant a sapling, along with the then chairman and divisional commissioner Puranik and the zoo executive director C D Krishne Gowda.

While the others planted whatever sapling that was handed down to them by zoo officials, I was choosy about mango. It was in search of this mango that I made the recent trip to the zoo. It was a FORT-Mysore colleague GVK who talked me into looking for the tree I had planted so long ago. It would make a great post for our blog, he said. He even offered to come with me, and help me take a photo of my mango at the zoo. I chose to go on my own,just in case it turned out to be a dry run.

First I had to make sure if the tree was there.I informed my old friend, zoo manager Shivanna, about my desire to locate my ‘sapling’. He welcomed the idea, but he was not sure if it had survived. A pleasant surprise awaited us when we reached the spot. What I had planted has grown to be a big tree, conspicuous in the groove for its spread; its long branches overshadowed the other trees.I stood there gazing at my tree in sheer joy. As I shared my thoughts an accompanying Karanji official Nagaraj mentioned that the tree yielded delicious badami. He added that they do not pluck the mangoes,but leave them on the tree for birds and monkeys. A noble idea.

As I fixed my gaze on the tree, my thoughts went back to school days when I had read Rabindranth Tagore’s Kabuliwala. The trader in the story, from Kabul, spent months away from home travelling in India to sell dates. The Kabuliwala , on his visits to Calcutta came in contact with a “little girl”...after years of absence (in jail) he returned, to be overwhelmed with emotions on seeing his 'little one' grown up as a beautiful woman. She reminded Kabuliwala of his own daughter back home, in Kabul. Well, I some such feelings at Karanji. Seeing my ‘sapling’, after over two decades, reminded me of the grown up woman in the story.

I had not visited Karanji in a long while. Besides it had not occurred to me to look for my tree till now. Those days, when we held our monthly zoo authority meetings on the lakeside there was not as much of tree cover as we find today. We must thank the zoo authority and its employees for the transformation. The whole environ is serene. For book lovers and bird-watchers it is an ideal spot. What with well laid out granite benches facing the lake, and coffee available at kiosk, the setting is fantastic, simply.

As I stood in front of the mango tree I felt humble. Who am I to claim it as my tree, merely because I had planted it. The credit must truly go to the gardeners and others at the lake who looked after it.Above all it is the Mother Nature that nourished, with maternal care, the sapling as it grew into a tree. I couldn’t help folding my hands in gratitude to such Nature’s creation before heading home.


GVK said...

Thanks to the link in your post, Mr Vattam, I got to re-read Kabuliwala; and sense your feelings on confronting your own 'Mini' at Karanji.

A touching passage in Tagore's story: "Clad in the red silk of her wedding-day, with the sandal paste on her forehead, and adorned as a young bride, Mini came ...The Kabuliwallah looked a little staggered at the apparition. He could not revive their old friendship. At last he smiled and said: "Little one, are you going to your father-in-law's house?"....
When she had gone, Rahmun heaved a deep sigh, and sat down on the floor. The idea had suddenly come to him that his daughter too must have grown in this long time,....
The marriage-pipes sounded, and.. Rahmun sat in the little Calcutta lane, and saw before him the barren mountains of Afghanistan".


The comaprison of your sapling-turned-tree to the Kabuliwallah's little-turned-grown Mini is moving. Your feelings are so well described with that one analogy.

Dr YNI Anand said...

That was a beautiful blog by Mr Krishna Vattam! The flow of words and the simple way they have been arranged shows that he is indeed a professional.

It reminds me of my days in 1080, Chamarajapuram (on the Southern side of Manu Vana Park opposite the court) from 1968 to 1995 from where I did my MBBS & joined the army (and came back also after seeking premature retirement!) We had thrown a mango seed after eating the fruit out of the window. Since it became a small sapling & further grew into a small plant, we thought it better to transplant it slightly away. We could never have imagined that it would one day grow very big and start yielding fruits. Indeed, after a few years it started yielding very sweet & tasty Malagoa fruits that we enjoyed till 1995 after which we vacated the house. The tree still stands tall & yields twice during alternate years. We are glad that our successors did not cut the tree but are enjoying the fruits.

ER Ramachandran said...

Thank you, Mr. Vattam.It must have been an ennobling experience to see the sapling grow into a healthy fruit-bearing tree after 22 years.Balraj Sahni, when he recognised the young lady and utters 'Minni Bazzi' remembering the child who used to greet him - It's a tender moment in 'kabuliwala'.Manna Dey made it memorable with 'Ey meri pyari wathan' when Kabuliwala goes back home to his 'Minni'.Thanks for reminiscing both.

Gagan K. said...

Nice post. WhAtever i had to say are already in other's comments.

Guru said...

Mysore Zoo was considered as the model for all other zoos in India to emulate. In my academic days in Mysore I visited most of the zoos in the country while I accompanied my engineering college students on North and South India tours which used to last nearly a month each in their pre-final and final degree years. I was not surprised that no other zoo measured up to Mysore zoo.

Our neighbour in my secondary school days was a veterinary surgeon of some repute and was called often for consultation by the zoo authorities. His son and I usually accompanied him during those visits as our interest was to see the animals and birds. He used to tell us about the high quality of care given to the animals and birds by successive zoo authorities which he said made his job easy. I am not surprised by the care bestowed on this mango sapling.

I read 'The Case Book of Sherlock
Homes', once sitting under the shade of a tree in the zoo in 1956. It was my first introduction to Conan Doyle's work. I was sitting for my SSLC that year. I borrowed the book from a visiting friend of my father who had bought the book at Higginbotham's in South Parade Bangalore the previous day, and was returning to Bangalore the the day after my zoo visit. There was no other place for me to read the book uninterrupted than the zoo. There was excellent cafeteria then which was an incentive for a visit!

Sesha said...

Mr. Vattam,

Your planting of a sapling is a warm hug to Mother Nature; She would have indeed felt very happy. Let all Her children follow you and hug Her in return of the great love She showers on all of us.