When A and I moved into our first marital home, it was a teeny, tiny flat in Fontainebleau. We had a lot of fun and started off our marriage just right, but it wasn't quite what I envisioned as a home. I guess I watch too many Hindi movies. I've always wanted a home which had a big expanse of garden - big enough for a shade-giving tree like Gulmohur, to be planted in one corner. Lots of lawn area. A bedroom that opened out onto a green expanse. We should have moved back to Jhumritalaiya instead of Gurgaon!

The flat we rent here is inside a rather nice, very un-Gurgaon-highrise colony. It has row-houses with adobe colours, rather Hispanic in style, and each little house comes with a backyard and a pocket-sized front lawn. We rented space on the first and second floors of a house, as the ground floor was already occupied. The second floor came with a marble floored terrace and two large rooms, and the first floor had 3 bedrooms and one drawing room, no space for a dining table. Where and how could we get my garden up now?

It's rather ironic that I should have thirsted after a garden so much, when, during all my growing years, I had never paid much attention to or spent much time in the gardens of all the homes we lived in. My dad worked for the government. We used to live in row houses in the heart of Delhi, where the houses were back to back in succeeding lanes. Their back gardens overlooked each other, and a thin naali ran through the middle of this set of gardens. There was no garden in front, but each row of houses had a large lawn in the middle of the street. No one could afford a gardener so apart from the CPWD maali who mowed the lawn, the gardens tended to be overgrown. For us kids, it was a great adventure to walk from the beginning of the row of gardens to the end, the green tunnel rather eerie looking in the dim sunlight which came through. A throng of cats used to haunt the place, each more ferocious and unprepossessing than the other, to add to our feelings of courageousness. Later, we lived in 'Lutyens' Delhi', in a bungalow set on a half acre plot with 100 trees around the perimeter. I was too busy working or dating my now husband to spend much time at home, though I did love the fact that my bedroom windows opened into a neem tree.

I was determined to have a garden at our house in Gurgaon too, so we set up a slightly bizarre home plan. We moved the master bedroom and guest room up to the second floor, half of which was a terrace. And I started investing in potted plants. All the usual suspects at first - palms, dracaenas etc. Then I got more adventurous. How about trying out some trees? Frangipanis came in. I got a silver oak potted. And surprisingly, despite quite a few failures, over all the garden started looking good.

Now we're about 5 years on. The garden is flourishing, though we still have the marble floor. Sometimes when I sit amidst all the greenery, I actually forget that and imagine there is grass underfoot. The frangipanis are full of flowers as are the almonda, the jasmine, the tecomas and the Har shringar.

None of the neighbours use their terrace so when we're up in our garden, it feels like we're isolated in a place of great beauty. All we can see from the garden is the Jacaranda tree from the garden below and the blue sky above. Lungspace - it's a space where the kids can pull out their inflatable pool, a space to have a quiet cup of tea in the morning before the madness that is our day begins, a place to enjoy a good book or to stop and smell the roses. The gulmohur tree is going to be a stretch...for now I have bonsaied one and plan to move my reading chair under it for the shade!


mummyjaan said…
Cool, verrry, very cool!

How did you 'bonsai' a gulmohar? Do gulmohar's make good bonsai? Wow, you're a very busy woman, BEV.
bird's eye view said…
ok, confession time - I got the gardener to bonsai the tree. But it's a beautiful bonsai and should flower next year.
mummyjaan said…
That's amazing. I've always been fascinated by bonsai. Of course, after reading about it, I found out how much effort and time it would take if I ever actually got into it!

I am trying to imagine a bonsai gulmohar... it must look beautiful. After all, it is one of my favourite trees (my mum's house is in a neighbourhood full of them, and when they flower all!)

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