Tag: nature

Nature, Nurture, Plant Mommy

As I walk in

Plant mommy! Yeah, that’s me. Every morning the lure of these little greens drag me out of the bed. My plants need to be watered before the summer sun scorches them, so even if my bed pulls me back, my feet feel heavy as lead, I get up and pick up the water can. The moment I step out on the balcony and look at the greens, lethargy is forgotten, I feel rejuvenated.

Leaving the bed has been a challenge in the past few months, the second wave of the pandemic has been draining. Constantly struggling with lethargy and lack of inspiration, my plant babies have certainly helped with that. While COVID has struck us hard, nature has been bountiful. My plants look lush green, the colourful blooms of nine o’ clocks and periwinkle (or Nayantara in Bangla sounds more poetic) give me hope amidst all the negativity around. These plants don’t ask for much besides little water and sunlight, and fertilizers occasionally. They propagate easily making me feel like a proud mom who happily watches over her babies growing.

Also, I am lucky to have friends who are plant lovers and happily share their green bounties with me. Whenever I feel low, I visit my friend and neighbour Titas’s garden to pick up a few saplings and cuttings. Jade, periwinkles, different kinds of succulents, I have picked up so many plants from her garden. Sanjay, Sanchita and little Prapti always visit me with a plant – different varieties of money plants, crotons, oregano and what not.

I find the lure of the green irresistible. I have picked quite a few plants from the nursery next to my society as well. Each time I go there to pick up pots or moss sticks, the fellow easily sells a few plants to me. “Yeh dekhiye madam kitna sundar paudha hai. Aap ko theek rate laga denge,” he says with a smile. Unlike many nursery owners, he knows his plants well. This is an indoor plant, this needs sunlight to flower, water this one only once a week, his tips certainly help. Palms, ferns, snake plants, peace lilies, I have picked up many plants from him and most of them worked out well.

My green balcony

These days I am at my happiest when I see these plants grow, flowers bloom. The ample rain that showered over NCR owing to cyclone Tauktae certainly helped. I had just got a few plants from Titas’s garden then and the rain helped them thrive. And what more, my plants have started propagating well. I have started multiplying my ferns and snake plants and sharing these oxygen bombs or happiness bombs with my friends and neighbours.

My Tryst with Natural Remedies by Gargee Vidyarthi

I have always been keen on natural remedies as have sort of distrust in the modern medicine.  My faith in therapeutic ways of Nature was strengthened when I visited Novdanya Farms in Dehradun in the year 2013.  There I got first-hand experience about how nature has everything for us.  That set me thinking and then in the year 2016 I read an article in Times of India about these women who were using various Natural Products at home.  From then onwards there has been no turning back.  I started with Garbage Enzyme, a sort of Phenyl with multipurpose uses. It can be used as a bodywash or to remove stains etc. This enzyme’s use are many and this convinced me that I could make the shift from using chemicals to natural products

Thus, my journey to minimize chemicals started. I switched to soap nuts or reetha for washing clothes and its effectiveness in cleaning them and removing stains is amazing. The clothes did not lose their colour or fade away.  Now I use reetha water along with, washing soda, vinegar and baking soda for stubborn stains.

The shampoo that I make with reetha/amla and shikakai ensures that my hair remains soft and healthy. My daughter who is in college has perfected the art of making the shampoo even in hostel and she actually gave me the input that we should increase the quantity of shikakai as this results in softer hair.

We have two Labradors and this is the second year when they have not got ticks etc. the reason is that they bathe regularly with neem water and eucalyptus water. Their fur is softer and shinier.

Slow cooking in Mitti Handi

The success with these products prompted me to change the way I cook also. One day I chanced upon to see a video on Mitti Handi (Earthen Pots) and I decided to try and cook in them. Lo and behold the taste was better. I have changed my way of cooking completely now and indulge in slow cooking. No use of pressure cookers for me. I cook dals, non-veg, vegetables in handi’s only.  I use handis both on Gas or Chulha. Truly speaking, the food can be kept outside without refrigeration for a long time. 

I now dabble with creams also and make cream with aloe vera gel + coconut oil or sesame oil. This cream is wonderful and when made with sesame oil acts as a Sunscreen Lotion also.  I use kaajal as well as eye liner which is homemade and this kaajal keeps my eyes healthy.

My tryst with Natural Remedies has been beneficial in more ways than one. I am able to save a lot of money but the main benefit has been health. I try to minimize chemical use and be in touch with earth.  Life has actually become simpler and joyous.

The joy that one gets when making something with our hands is what keeps us grounded with life and nature. It is because we have lost our connection with mother earth as our homes are also far away from the earth due to skyscrapers that our mind and our bodies have also drifted away.

Shifting from chemical and preservative is lot easier than one thinks.  Yes, it does require patience and desire, yet the benefits are tremendous.  Hope that you all will also make the shift. happy Shifting.

 Sharing recipes of my products:

Reetha Shampoo

Reetha – 100 gm/         Amla –  100gm/   Shikakai – 200 gm/ Hibicus leaves – A Handful/  Aloe Vera (Fuesh Gel) – 100-150 gm/ Methi Dana – Handful/ Curry leave – Handful

Soak everything together in warm water overnight and then boil on very slow heat for nearly 1 hour. Let it cool and after the shampoo cools down strain it and use it.  It stays fine for nearly 20-25 days.  Use it like normal shampoo though it may not lather so much but it cleanes and conditions the hair beautifully.

Hair Oil

Coconut oil: 100 ml/    Sesame oil:  100 ml/     Bhringraj :       10 gms/     Brahmi  :       10 gms/      Methi dana :   10 gms/     Kalongi       :   10 gms/     Dry Amla    :    100 gms/     Curry leaves :  a few/    Mehendi leaves : a few/   Hibiscus leaves and flowers : a few

Mix everything together and boil till on slow fire till all the leaves are burnt. let it stand overnight and then strain and use it.

A novel twist to the desi New Years

It’s New Year time, I mean time for desi New Year Celebrations. Be it Baisakhi in Punjab, Bihu in Assam, Noboborsho in Bengal or Vishu in Kerala, most regions in India usher in New Year mid-April, sometime between 13th to 15th April. These days are significant for each community marked with new purchases, feasting and cultural celebrations. People visit their places of worship, layout traditional feasts, visit each other, there are so many social dos.

This year, however, it was different. Locked in to tackle a novel virus we did not have much to celebrate for. With social distancing becoming the new norm, any kind of function or social visits were out of the question. Some of us did manage to dish out feasts at home with whatever ingredients one could manage. Picture of homecooked delicacies on social media and WhatsApp groups did bring me some cheer. We wished each other in our virtual world while the real world wore a deserted look. We prayed in the solace of our home wishing for our old world to be back soon.

Photo courtesy Abhishek Rana

Nature, on the other hand, had a different story to tell. There were celebrations all around. As I went to my balcony at night in my good noboborsho pyjamas, after a plateful of special Maggi for dinner, a glowing Venus greeted me in all her glory followed by her friends twinkling with joy in a clear night sky. The plants in my small balcony garden have never looked greener, blooming periwinkles are such delight to my eyes. Ganga water has become fit for drinking and Yamuna has never been this clean before. Dolphins have been seen on Mumbai beach, peacocks and deer are out in the road. The most polluted cities of India are filled with Oxygen. The story is the same world over. Nature is revelling as we humans are locked in!

My blooming garden

We vain humans. For all our successes, our march to progress, we forgot that we are but a small cog in the grand scheme of things. We forgot that we once worshipped and celebrated nature, and not destroyed her mindlessly. Indian New Years, that usually fall in the fag-end of spring, mark the beginning of harvest season, celebrates Mother nature before sowing new seeds. Nature has been an inherent part of our culture. Epitomized as Prakriti, a fertile woman or a mother, who conjoins with Purusha, the man, to create and nurture the world – the world that consists of all things living, not just humans. 

Spring Sky. Courtesy Riti Chakraborty

Other civilizations across the globe, have their own lore’s of nature, of man’s oneness with nature. Gods and Goddesses in both Hindu and Greek mythology symbolize many forces of nature. Noah’s ark that saved his family from the great Biblical flood also sheltered thousands of species of animals. In fact, God commanded him to do so.

But for us, the educated urbane lot, these are just mythological tales, mere lore that the novel virus has thrown back on our face, rather mercilessly. Yes, a rude jolt was what we needed, but it remains to be seen how long we stay awake!

Butterfly, butterfly…

The other day, on my morning walk, I met my long-lost friend
A white butterfly with a black dot on each wing, flitting from flower to flower
I stopped, looked at her and smiled. “Where have you been for so long?” I wondered
The butterfly paused too for a while, she heard me, or so I thought
But as I walked gently towards her to take a closer look, she fluttered and glided away
“Oh, come back, I missed you so,” but off she flew, away from the manicured shrubs of my society’s park

bloom-blossom-butterfly-158617
Image courtesy hepl.lib.in.us Every morning I seek her, but she’s nowhere to be found Butterfly, her friends’ dragonfly, grasshopper and honeybee, who would buzz around my garden when I was a little girl Flitting from flower to flower, moving from leaves to leaves, what a delight to watch Sometimes they would dart into my room through the open window humming a tune of love For them the flowers bloomed and yielded honey, for them the earth blossomed The little girl in me flourished happily in their company Then one day I had to leave my childhood garden and my friends behind. The joy of exploring the world, the sorrow of leaving my little garden behind. “I will be back soon,” I assured my winged friends as I bid them goodbye But the world and its many wonders had me captivated. Like a sailor drawn to a siren’s song, I moved on and on. The glitzy concrete cities beckoned me, the tall skyscrapers created an illusion of success and achievement. The little garden and my winged friends were soon forgotten, like sweet nothings that catch your fancy for a while. The garden in my concrete high rise is all so meticulously planned and organized, that allows no flitting and fluttering of butterflies, honeybees, grasshoppers or dragonflies One morning I chanced upon her again, my sweet childhood friend, butterfly. “Where are my other friends, dragonfly, grasshopper and honeybee?” She froze for a while, then off she flew far, far away. "That’s rude, I am hurt, that’s no way to treat an old friend. “Friend? Really?” I suddenly heard the buzzing bee over my head". “Where were you when they were destroying our garden and killing your winged friends?”