Sunday, 20 June 2010

The Cannonball Tree

The Dutch are pragmatic, the English are self-deprecating, the Americans are “awesome” and Indians, well, Indians are officious. The above characterization is based on random observations of people and has never (almost never) been empirically proven. Though in the case of Indians the observation has been long and hard. And considering how the population at large aspires for a government job, very nearly true.

There are other observations too. In India, when someone says they love gardening they don’t mean they bend down on their knees and slog away come rain or shine. Or for that matter revel in the joy of watching a seed sprout tiny tendrils that would go on to become something truly beautiful. There are other miracles they prefer like the ones that turn a gerbera into a sunflower when it’s in a vase on their dining table. Actually what they mean is that they love the fact that they can afford someone to come 3 times a week to take care of “their garden”.

Also in India when they call a housing complex green, they don’t mean “green” in the environmentally-friendly sense. No, they don’t even mean it in the sense of the building complex having a park. They only mean that something green in colour maybe a few bushes or a few trees can be found in the vicinity.

While we are on the word park, it often means a patch of grass, there maybe some neatly pruned bushes, but what’s more important is the paved jogging track. Who said anything about the park in a city being a bio-diverse landscape with different species of native trees and plants, and birds, not to forget the odd wild mammal? Do you think you are living in London? Anyway we have “enough” National Parks in the back of beyond to spend our vacation at. And malls to spend our weekends in.

So, if you spot a cannonball tree that has attained its true majestic glory in the heart of Mumbai– don’t get excited. And don’t even think of taking photographs. There will always be some man who’ll come up and say, “Don’t take pictures. You are not allowed to take pictures” A tree can be easily ignored, and almost as easily chopped down. But the opportunity to extract a fine (should it be 50 or 100 rupees), especially where none exists, isn’t easily found. For what are rules– but made by humans like us? Did I tell you that Indians are officious?

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