Thursday, May 20, 2010


A gulmohar along the Oval Grounds makes a pretty picture this time of the year in Mysore. My neighbourhood has so many such trees that it is a delight taking a walk. A few more roadside gulmohars:
A path littered in red on the Maharaja College campus.
On JLB Rd, in front of the Institution of Engineers.
At MUDA nursery near DC's office.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Watering trees

On our way to Giridarshini Layout this morning, Mr K N Sreenivas and I came across this row of roadside trees being watered through hosepipe drawn from a nearby private property. All trees on the row are connected with a channel that makes watering the trees a labour-saving chore. Lay of the land does help here.

Our enquiry revealed that the water is sourced from the property that belongs to Dr Sudharshan, who has planted the roadside trees. Could this be Dr H Sudharshan, the social worker and tribal activist ? The kuccha road with rows of honge near K C Layout connects T Narsipura Road.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Politics of watering plants

A question every inquisitive passer-by asks when you take up planting on public space is: Who will water the saplings ? The Manjunaths of Giridarshini Layout are different. Mr Manjunath,living close to the Ganapathi temple, far from popping up the question, invited us to take water from his house. We took 12 buckets yesterday, and nearly as many today, to plant the first two saplings of the ongoing tree-planting programme.
Mrs Manjunath was our obvious choice for doing the honours with the first sapling we planted at the temple doorstep this morning. She has offered to take care of the sapling till it takea roots.
This is the sapling Mrs Manjunath planted. There are no more than a couple of other trees on the entire stretch of this road. The layout comes under gram panchayat, say its residents by way of explanation for conspicuous lack of even basic infrastructure such as proper road, sewage line and a prescribed pavement space. No open space for public park has been demarcated. As a old-time resident put it, every bit of land has been parceled and sold as plots.
In contrast to the poor infrastructure, fancy buildings have come up in the area. And fresh construction is still in evidence in many parts of the layout. Folks who lavish their wealth on house construction pay little attention to their surroundings. A few residents we met in the colony spoke of panchayat politics and lack of collective will among residents to get anything done to improve the locality. Getting such people together for a community initiative such as tree-planting remains a challenge.

As of now,we are focused on planting within the confines of the temple land. And response from the temple trustees has been positive. This may well be because a prime-mover in the current planting in the area, Mr K N Sreenivas, is a trustee himself. We asked the temple priest Suryanarayana Jois to plant the second sapling. He did it with appropriate rituals, chanting slokas. He also agreed to put in a word to regular temple visitors about the sanctity of watering the plants around the temple.
Immediate needs of water for this freshly planted sapling was met by Mr Manjunath who used his influence in the neighbourhood to bring a hose from a construction site.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Volunteer Priyanka

Volunteer Priyanka, on summer break after finishing her PU exam, joined her dad K N Sreenivas and tree-planter K R Gurukar in roadside digging at Giridarshini Layout on T Narsipur Rd. My role in the tree-planting squad is that of chronicler. It was past nine in the morning when they got down to digging earth to plant a couple of honge on roadside in front Mahashakti Ganapathi Temple. The three of them slogged in punishing heat till 11 a m when I suggested we called it a day(I got tired doing little more than watching them work).
Mr Gurukar didn't seem satisfied with the day's work - preliminary digging in front of the temple to mark the start of our tree-planting programme. He wanted us to start early from tomorrow - 6.30 a m. Today, two half-done pits were watered to soften the soil for further digging before planting to be taken up tomorrow. Mr Sreenivas and I were, however, pleased with today's pace. We hadn't expected to get any earthwork done today. If it wasn't for Mr Gurukar's determination, we wouldn't have done any digging. Our visit this morning was mainly to establish contact with neighbourhood residents. As we finished talking to the temple pujari and a couple of other residents Mr Gurukar suggested we start work right away, and without waiting for a nod from us, Mr Gurukar removed his shirt and changed into his working gear.
Earlier he was engaged in conversation with Dr Krishnamurthy, who lives opposite the temple. He offered to take us to meet some other residents, and suggested we convene a residents meeting in the next few days to mobilise support. Another resident Mr Manjunath opened the tap at his residence for us to water the pits - we used 12 buckets. The temple, still under construction, has no water connection. Mr Gurukar suggested if every devotee to the temple were to bring a little water from home, we could take care of the temple saplings.
As of now, we brought water from Mr Manjunath's residence. Which meant fetching the bucket from the end of the lane by the side of the temple. The temple trustees have offered support to our tree-planting programme. Chairman of the trustees Mr Gururaj welcomed our suggestion for the temple to perform vrikshe archana. Idea is to bless saplings brought by devotees, who propose to plant them in their backyard on special occasions. Saplings can be offered in archana at Giridarshini temple , as we do flowers, coconuts, fruits and tulsi leaves. If this initiative works, the deity here could well be named Vrishe Vinayake .

Saying it with sapling

Kavitha who works in our apartments block isn't particularly green conscious, but she is responsive to sensible ideas. Kavitha planted a pomegranate to mark her wedding anniversary over two years ago. That was when my wife and I had planted a couple of saplings in a public park to mark the day our grandson Siddarth started going to nursery school in San Ramon, California.

Kavitha was quick to pick on the idea of saying it with saplings. What's more, she acted on it to mark a happy occasion in her life - wedding anniversary. In our lives we have good events and dates to remember - birthday, day our children start school, pass an exam, get a placement, our first trip abroad, and several other occasions worthy of celebration. Can't be a better way of doing it than plant a sapling on our backyard, roadside in front of your homes, at any open space in your neighbourhood.

Kavitha's pomegranate is coming up nicely on the backyard of our apartment building - Premier Residency - in Devaraja Mohalla. In response to my plea she agreed to pose for a picture with her two-year old 'green' baby.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Shramdhan, anyone ?

We could do with volunteers to join a tree-planting programme at Giridarshini Layout on T Narsipur Rd. We have persuaded Vrikshamitra K R Gurukar to lead our efforts to create community awareness to greening of neighbourhoods. Plan is to make a start with Giridarshini Layout.

It is a week-long programme, starting later this week. Apart from digging roadside pits for planting the programme involves a door-to-door orientation of residents towards upkeep of roadside trees; performing a special puja at neighbourhood temple to mark tree-planting. The temple has provision to perform vriksharchana for devotees seeking to plant trees to mark special occasions such as birthday, wedding
anniversary, success of their children in exams, in job interviews or placement abroad.

With school opening on June 1 parents sending their young ones to school for the first time can mark the occasion by planting a sapling in their backyard or roadside in front of their houses. What they plant would grow with their children, Years from now. as they move on in life, the tree they plant would bring them memories of the day they started going to school.

We chose Giridarshini Layout because a member of our tree-lovers group, Mr K N Sreenivas, has persuaded the temple trustees to perform vriksharchana for the benefit of devotees. Another,and a more pertinent, factor in our choice is that Giridarshini is virtually a zero-tree locality, where, where we reckon, it would be possible for us to make a difference with Mr Gurukar's intervention.

We have had several facebook friends offering help to Mr Gurukar in his work. This is a suitable opportunity for them to pitch in with shramdhan at Giridarshini. This would be a big help mobilizing local residents towards a green cause. Volunteering would involve two hours of help to Mr Gurukar in the mornings. Those who can't make it for the entire week could help out for a day or two at their convenience. E-mail or call 0821-2421918 ; Mr Sreenivas - 9845692545 ; and Mr K R Gurukar - 9740877615

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Deformed trees

These trees on Chamaraja Double Rd. appear to have had deformed growth.
This one has been punished by real estate developer for coming in the way of 'development'.
This is a snag with banyan on roadside. Its drop-roots stretch into the street.
A fully grown tree that is past its prime.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A cool walk

The coolest walk in my neighbourhood is on the Maharaja's campus. The road to the college from JLB Rd. is one stretch of shade even at noon.

The wooded space next to the vice-chancellor's residence has gone green in last week's showers.
A massive tree on the campus.
And the neem that is worshiped by residents on the college campus.
Tree-lined road in front VC's residence.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Pothole planter

Armed with some flowers, soil, and a shovel, Wheen began doing some gardening—right in the worst of the potholes. He carefully filled in each pothole with soil and flowers, and then took a photo of his work, posting the images on his blog.
Wheen’s guerrilla gardening helps to satisfy his green thumb tendencies: “I’m a mad keen gardener but I live in a small flat without a garden,” he told Metro. Read more...

Kalyani, a friend and tree-lover in Ooty sent the link.

The bicycle talk

I get a feeling that Mr Gurukar can communicate with trees. I didn't find him at the usual kerbside on MUDA Circle this morning. Instead, he was at work across the road, tending to a couple of saplings planted over a year ago by the forest dept. Several saplings planted along this road in front of Ramyas and the Cosmo Club, right up to the University oval grounds, have perished for want of care.
The surviving few needed proper earthwork to hold water when it rains. Mr Gurukar had done with this plant near MUDA office when I caught up with him to talk about his bicycle.I wanted to get an idea of the carrier that can be fixed on his bicycle. I suggested a rectangular cargo hold at the back,something light,preferably made of cane.
Mr Gurukar was not enthusiastic- "I don't need anything,sir". But we do, I pressed on,explaining to him that a cane-carrier on his bicycle,painted green with a message from Friends of Roadside TreesFORT),would help us spread the word. His point was that it would be tougher for him to load water pots on to a carrier. He feels comfortable with the way they are now placed in his bike.
He had a point.As Mr Gurukar put it,he wasn't getting any younger- he is 68,looks five years younger. How about a cane basket up front? A smaller,detachable box hooked to the handle bar? Mr Gurukar gave a non-committal smile.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Exposed roots

These trees that have taken decades to grow this much need better care.Couldn't the authorities have widened this patch in front of Karanji Lake a foot or two less than rest of the road ? This would have spared the roots from being so hacked and exposed.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


It is bloom time for gulmohar. At a traffic triangle close to DC's office.