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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Reactions To My Kitchen Garden Society Meetings


I draw a deep breath and tell myself to imagine I am back at The Art of Living sessions. This helps and I manage to unclench my teeth and say ,"This manure is very good. I got it from the kitchen Garden Society meeting ". The Mali , not having attended any Art of  Living course , doesn't even try to attempt any pleasantries. The 'khad' is terrible and he could have got much better and Kitchen Garden Societies are all hogwash and bibiji , not knowing any better, has being taken for a royal ride. Since I had only attended the ' Art  of Living for Beginners' I am, but naturally,  not able to maintain the calm and relaxed state  of mind which comes when one imagines one is floating in space. I tell him how helpful the Kitchen Garden society meetings are for people like me, whose gardeners , unfortunately, are not culled  from the same ilk as Lord Emsworth's gardener at Blanding Castle.. The mali , not being drawn to such irreverent reading as yours truly indulges in, pauses for a minute, but only to draw breath. He has by now discovered the plants that accompanied the manure and his nostrils flare some more. Taking a leaf out of Arvind Kejriwal's  battle strategy, that beating a retreat is sometimes more prudent than a prolonged confrontation, I tell him to make some hanging  baskets  and  well, beat a retreat.

There is a flurry of activity from within the house  as I enter. Cushions are hurriedly straightened,  chappals go back to where they belong, on the owners feet,  the television volume is lowered  and the son bends studiously over a book which till now had been languishing on his lap. The run in in the garden hasn't totally spoiled my good mood and I beam benignly at the family and pronounce myself absolutely  in love with the  KGS and with all its members, specially the President. The men in blue are not doing too well against the men in black and my comment seems to be headed towards oblivion but I dextrously bring it back into focus by casting an injured look at the husband. He  raises an eyebrow , and correctly taking it to be an invitation to tell more I launch into a vivid description of the many virtues of the President . "She wears the most drool worthy pashminas , has a sharp sense of style and her sarees..." Here my voice tapers off as envy wages an inward and silent battle with admiration.   I remember in time that envy is one of the seven deadly sins and so,  having saved my soul,  I turn back to the husband but find him in animated conversation with the son on the folly of Dhoni batting at number 5 instead of coming in at number 2. Blithely interrupting such trivial matters I carry on," and I made a new friend today at the KGS meeting. She was carrying a Birkin bag ..." The daughter, seemingly engrossed in a novel till now, looks up and asks, " pashmina and Birkin at a garden society meet? How shallow is that ,Mum"?  

The maid chooses that moment to announce that dinner is ready. I tell her to remove my plate from the table. There is a chorus of  " why are you not eating "? I run them through the tea that was served at the meet- samosas, dhokla, sandwiches, pastries, gajar ka halwa, coffee...I know there is something I have left out and rack my memory for it. Just then I remember, 'oh ! and Mrs Sharma  brought a whole lot of  melt in the mouth dahi bhallas" . The son , always the one to say the wrong thing, asks, ' you have finally joined a kitty party, mum "? I quiver in righteous indignation and tell him that KGS is not a kitty party. Very meaningful work goes on at the meetings of the   former and one learns a lot . I start telling them about the tray garden we were taught to make that day. I had just reached the point where the President, who was the one demonstrating how to assemble a tray garden, had put a clay lion on top of the rock , which was on top of the top soil, when the bell rings.  It is the delivery boy from the neighbourhood grocery store. The husband gets up to make the payment. He is back in a minute , looking all puzzled. " I had kept a thousand on the bedside table. Has anyone seen the money'? I tell him I had taken the money with me. " So, give it to the delivery boy".  " I can't'. " Why not"?   

 " Because I spent it all at the Kitchen Garden meet".

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