Black Hill Journals - 28
Here again the New Year
The Question is ... Welcome
Rajiva Shanker Shresta
No wonder my Come back was inspired more out of the love showered by readers young and elderly alike, who find my writings interesting enough, quite different from others rather than my own yearning to write something from events of day to day life wherever I happen to be. It is the assignment entrusted to myself contributing every week to be with you through the columns of your favourite daily and what would be more appropriate occasion of the week than the leisurely Sunday morning.
I start writing again on auspicious Tuesday of Hanuman Jayanti hoisting the ceremonial flag near the Puja Kotha to ward off any undesired eventualities that come our way - to be with you all for another New Year to welcome. Early showers this year prompted faster first flush of tea homemade to cheer up without waiting for the Temi Organic Tea to reach the shelves of the Cafe Fiction/Rachna Books or other shops many tea-lovers might be longing for. What a joy of enjoying homemade tea handplucked, roasted simple way to get that envigourating soothing drink - enjoy it hot or let it cool down with more infusion to have that wonderful taste one could only dream of. Jaisri Tea would be a befitting name to it (after the name of our residence) that reminds me of much advertised Jaishree Tea brand some decades ago and also of the Bollywood dancer Jaishree T of the same era. It is really satisfying that we have tea from our own backyard of ancestral home my parents replicated in a miniature version of what The Chandra Nursery did more than a century ago here in the Black Hill. Continuing the legacy The Woodland Nursery made it in the traditional manner that Thulo Maiju used to give us until recently during our visit (another home product she shared with us was turmeric powder to make a dish different to look and relish.) For readers who wish to know the backgound from the pages of family history, the goodwill and brand 'The Chandra Nursery' went to Babu Durga Shamsher Pradhan*, younger brother of Rai Saheb Ratna Bahadur Pradhan* following a partition (around the same year the country had) to bring the half the properties to the share of Thulo Mama Bhishma Pratap Pradhan* and Sanu Mama Mohan Pratap Pradhan*. They continued the legacy in the main Kothi (Shanti Kutir) with the business under the name and style of The Woodland Nursery. Pallo Kothi (Nirvana) too have a mini tea garden (mainly a tree for seeds - Bidhan Mama confirms) along with all the paraphernalia of the flower business should have including an orchard, cattle-shed, ponds and a glass house. Both brothers were the authority on their own right specialising in orchids, gerbera, dahlia, amaryllis, chrysanthemum, water-lilies and many other plants including ferns and foliage. Some of them were for botanical value rather than the commercial. They hybridized and named new varieties of flowers thus obtained after celebrities and some for own family members. A glance through the pages of different catalogues/price list gives us how vast was the subject covered.Tress like Ashoka, camphor, Rudraksh, Lapsi, insect-eating plant Nepenthese khasiana, plantain like Traveller's Plant, etc. Above all a lone gigantic Dhupi tree standing tall in front of the Kothi is the mute witness of the glorious days. Keshab Mama wrote, "It is a historic heritage garden. A pride to the state and country as a whole and too precious to let it go astray. ... But I still hope some miracle takes place and someone from the family chain comes up to revive it, digging out the old historical records and carrying forward the good work, bring back life to the gardens." Like many others, Bijoy Bhai, a scion, too agreed with him. In spite of best efforts of successors and best wishes of well-wishers, both the Nurseries could not thrive the vagaries of time. Like every good has to come to an end, these too faced the plight which no one wishes to see. Readers desirous to know more can enjoy reading my article The Chandra Nursery Centenary in the page Tribute of www.karunaguthi.com dedicated on the occasion. It also appeared in the popular monthly of the time Talk Sikkim (August 2010.) Further, we have beautiful account "My Uncles Chandra Nursery - Pioneers in the Plants Business" in Keshab C. Pradhan's The Life and Times of a Plantsman in the Sikkim Himalayas - A Memoir (2008) from which some extracts have been included in the article.
Coming back 'Today is the continuation of yesterday's energy' for me and this is doing just what someone said 'Take time to do what makes your Soul happy!' Yesterday I visited Community Health Centre (CHC) here at Rhenock for dental check up and complimented Dr. Priyanka Pradhan and Tashi Tsering Bhutia who did the needful to my eroding teeth, for the neat and clean toilet (better kept than at the CRH Sikkim Manipal Institute of Medical Science the previous Sunday) I have to frequent these days. She shared with me that she loves reading (as I found her engrossed in a thick book while waiting for patients when visited CHC first) and also enjoys my weekly column. So does the Medical Officer-in-Charge Dr. Sanjana Poudyal she introduced to me last time when they were on way to some Community Programme at Aritar and Dalapchand. I found CHC getting a lift soon to help serious patients reach upper floor but coming out saw later the spoil outside near the newly added beautiful gate - an eyesore. I walked down the beautifully done street of the bazar and spent some time with Hari Bhansari. I was just in time when Aarati was being performed for the Hanuman Jayanti celebrations near the heritage Sri Sri Sri Dhaneshwar Shivalaya Mahadev Mandir and got blessed accepting Tika and Prasad. Navraj Pradhan (once my driver) was with Aarati Thali while two Pundits were busy putting Tika and tieing holy thread around the wrist. Moti Prasad was also there and complimented for the well celebrated with Havan Kund nearby still aglow suggesting the ritual finished some while ago. As the place was crowded with females members of the business community, many had to take our turn from sideline like Madan Prasad did earlier taking leave from me when I was in his shop for some purchase. Earlier, I enjoyed the crowd from the shop Maniram Jainarayan before enquiring whether the 6 mm plywood sheet supplied last time was of right one as I had taken along the label on it that mentioned of 4 mm thickness. Both father-son duo Mangeram and Kunal Agrawal insisted and confirmed it was the right kind and they have been selling it like that only. Not convincing enough, feeling cheated somewhere inside, but did not wish to spoil the relation as usual with most of us. Jaago Grahak Jaago?! I meet Bigyan Daju to check if they received what he sent the previous day. I tell the owners that his father Thuloba Suryaman Singh Joshi* had a cordial relationship with Jainarayan alias Jania besides being a regular customer like my Buba had with Lalchand Tarachand and later with Sagarmal Madan Kumar belonging to Nandkishore Agrawal. Tarachand* moved to Jaigaon near Bhutan border town of Thimpu where I had visited him and his son Prem once. Pushpadidi saw me and came to find out if Muma was here with us. She was going back to Gangtok next day with the Puja concluded at Mohan Daju's* place last Saturday. Besides Ganesh Kumar Pradhan and Kamala Buhari, I also met Santosh Kumar Pradhan and Khusnarayan Pradhan though I could not find many others around.
Santosh was mentioning me that he liked the renovation work being done preserving the ancestral home in front in due respect to the heritage and original plan as envisaged by my father while constructing it. The later portion provide additional space needed when family members gather during festivals and other social occasions.
Ganesh brought to my notice the newly done raised roofing in front of the Kutcheri and rued of not paying due attention to the only heritage house in the town. It had survived many a fire episodes the place had in the past. He had brought it to the notice of the owners too. Instead the shopkeeper/tenant below stopped speaking to him for quite a long time for raking up the matter. Kutcheri is understood to be presently let out to Radhaswami, a religious sect. He wanted me to visit his Ram-Gauri Sangrahalaya but could not make this time too and to assure of being there sometime later as I wish to see the improvements/additions he had done since we were there last and would inform him beforehand.
A whole year is ahead as this Come back coincides with the another New Year that most of the people celebrate either as Bikram Samvat 2074, Baishakhi, Bihu, Vishu or Poila Baisakh. It also give us one more time the opportunity to wish all a Very Happy and Prosperous New Year with best of health and wealth fulfilling all the hopes and aspirations one could dream of. In the other hand, it also means one more chance for us to review and rededicate to the resolutions we made welcoming the year 2017:
- Being a better person
- Weight loss
- Exercising more
- Spending less and saving more money
- Improving my health and
- Eating healthier
These are the 'Top 6 Resolutions for 2017' from where I left you all last time with the article 'Opening up in the New Year - Seventy is New Sixty' to catch up with you all if myself lagged behind!
Next week : Historic Literary Pursuits - Landmark Initiatives
Disclaimer: This is author’s personal account of memories updated to cherish and treasure often on a detour here and there en route to share the joy of the journey called life. Some names (*asterisk for those no more), quotes, places and events mentioned are just to connect with and no malice whatsoever intended. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Newars World~Wide Connecting the Dots Sikkim by him is available at the Rachna Books.