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Thursday, May 26, 2016

My Gardening Pedigree ---- You think its a joke?

By Razaque Ahamat

You may wonder what I am on about??. I do have a gardening knack that goes back a very, very long time.

After my parents got married in the late 30's and after my eldest brother came on to the scene, they realised that there was 'a lack of elbow room' in living in Colombo. With my Dad's savings and the dowry that he got, they could hardly have acquired a tenement lodgings in Colombo!! Luckily my Mum got compensation for a property that was given to her as a wedding gift by my Grand parents that was gobbled up for road development!! Along with all these assets put together, they bought about 11/2 acres of land in Wattala and built their homestead there. That was how our family happened to be in Wattala!!.

I came into the scene much later when they had already started our campaign to grow. Already there were several mango, varieties of banana, coconut, jak, del trees laden, for a starter, on the road to self sufficiency!! Later my dad bought a few acres of paddy land ---- and we had our rice too...... country rice at that!! We all had to lend our hands & get them soiled in the process from a very young age. We really enjoyed the romance of this toil to the consternation of our relatives who at first called us "The Villagers".... Gamayas and so on & laughed at us!!! One wonders who had the last laugh??? In addition, we grew a variety of local vegies ---" Gam Elavalu" such as bandakka, wattakka, pathola, mannochchka,  kiri-ala, bathala (what the Antipodes call Kumara!!). We were flushed with all these goodies so much so that our relatives came to visit us dangling their hand (and 'everything else'), but left laden with produce from our land hardly able to carry them and of course forgetting all their slur ...quite unashamedly!!

One more thing was that as we were supplied with watered-down milk by the local milkman, Dad got two cows that provided us with 'real' milk -- and lots of it. We all learned to milk the cows and look after them and their calves. One upshot from this was that yours truly became very adept at "HANDLING UDDERS" !!!!!.

We also had a lot of poultry -- chicken, ducks and turkey and several dogs & cats that gave us warnings and protection from vermin as well as thieves, mainly at Christmas time as thieves were after our turkeys!!

So that was my initiation to gardening and due care and respect for animals. 
So, with all this amount of nutritious food abound, it is little wonder why my good friend, Mahen to this day address me as his "Substantial Friend"???----- I like that as it is true -- just take one look at me!!!!.

Having got into a profession, I began a period of wandering around the country and then world as Bedouins -- "ahukuntayas" -Gypsies  without the caravan!!. In London, when I was under Post-Grad Training & living in the "Hospital ghetto" with hardly any space to move, we were very much starved for open spaces till I moved to Aberdeen, where we acquired a home with a garden and 2 allotments to cap it all. We grew our own and we all enjoyed the fresh vegies again. Our neighbours too benefited from our bonanza!!  Then moving to Dundee we lost our allotments. So we dug up our back garden and built raised beds as we were getting that much older suffering from APR and KR ("Konndehey Rudawa").

In NZ too, during my short stay there, we dug up the back garden & grew our own despite there being plentiful very fresh stuff in the markets at all times.

Age old habits do die hard, but these have helped us to lead a life in the fresh air and get the exercise needed that is important at our age.

I shall post some photos of our handiwork with my 'dirty' & my wife's fair hands or is it the other round???. Shall leave it to you to decide!!

Raised beds prepared for planting. 






Flame tulip in garden.



Magnolias in my front garden. Also Azaelias ...spot the black magnolia at crest of the blue flowers.





12 comments:

  1. Hi my substantial friend. What a story!I wanted to duck for cover but chickened out when I heard the udder side of the poultry, I mean story. Never thought that milk would have such an effect on Man! What a lavely story! Keep writing and gardening

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mahen and thanks for your comments!
      Now you know how got my 'love handles'!!
      You have now 'seen both sides now'..... the 'udder side'as well, with all that milk about and plentiful food no wonder I laboured to field in the out-field therefore decided to be a wicket keeper.... if nothing else the ball will hit me & rarely pass me by unless it was a wide!!.
      Thanks again.

      "The Substantial One"

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  2. Hi my substantial friend. What a story!I wanted to duck for cover but chickened out when I heard the udder side of the poultry, I mean story. Never thought that milk would have such an effect on Man! What a lavely story! Keep writing and gardening

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your comments as ever are very much appreciated-- Mahen.
      This is only one side of my antics... the 'udder' will come on in due course.
      You can now await with some beathless anticipation or is it trepidation???

      "The Substantial One"

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  3. Razaque
    Thank you for that great down to earth account of your life and times of long ago. The photos are stunning. The flowers have such beautiful colours more dainty than the cells you have always seen through a microscope despite the stains. I remember your lovely home in Hunupitiya and your mum's cooking we always enjoyed. She was such a kind lady.
    I always recall those good times in Wattala and sadly only us two are left from that happy band of travelers. "Inshallah" we will have the good fortune to meet again some sunny day. If ever you come to London, although its streets are not paved with gold anymore, do contact me.
    It is great to hear your stories so well written.
    ND

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    Replies
    1. Thanks ND.
      Those were the days -- the carefree, irresponsible and naughty days.I recollect those days and fondly remember those travelling mates --as you say now only the two of us.How I wish to meet you guys at least once more before the "call"!! If you ever pass by Dundee, please do drop in to have jolly good natter over a glass or two of 'Barley Water'. Thanks once again for those kind words.... much appreciated.
      Raz

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  4. Very interesting, my gardening friend. What are the purple ( small ) flowers - 4th picture from the top ? It really is a great hobby-rewarding too.

    Indra .A

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  5. Actually the 5th picture from the top. Sorry.
    IA

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    Replies
    1. It is the time of the year for the Rhododendrons. Looks like one but wish I could see the leaves clearly
      ND

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    2. That could be a Rhododendron too, as they are in bloom here too. Could also be an Azalea, the color is unusual for an Azalea, & I have not seen much of them in England. Right now I have a yellow Exbury Azalea in bloom. They are not common.
      Are you watching the cricket test ?

      IA

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    3. Indra and ND,
      I knew that the 'purple' one would cause some comment. It is really not a Rhododendron as suggested by you two.....it is supposed to be a "Black Magnolia" as it is known and somewhat rare. If you look carefully at the pic. of the 'blue' Azaelea, you will see them at its crest as two 'black bulbs'!! They are the same flowers at an early stage and appear 'black'... and hence the name. Later it appear Deep Purple. Real 'black' ones have not been developed as yet.. this is about the best as it gets towards that "Black" goal!!!.
      If you have not spotted it ... consult our Zita, she will put you right or 'Should have gone to Specs-Savers'???

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  6. Sorry I am a bit late to comment as I have been out of circulation for a while. This is such a refreshing story and with such lovely pictures all which really gives us a real picture of the early life many of you have had the good fortune to spend before emigrating to a rather 'settled' and predictable life abroad, and even though ours is a rewarding profession, I am sure you look back on the life with mum and dad with real nostalgia. Thanks for letting us take a peep into your wonderful life story. from Zita

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