Open the door onto her terrace and you’re greeted by the sight of bright pink Bougainvillea swaying against the blue sky. Next to them are Adeniums outstretching their branches, Roses, Dopatis and some unusual cacti lining the edges. Gopa Choudhury’s ground floor has a lush lawn too, bordered by Lilies. This chemistry teacher, clearly, has a knack for botany too.
We’ve lived all over the country but when we moved to Salt Lake in 1997 it was to live amidst greenery. Now we can enjoy every season through its flowers, be it Petunias and Marigolds in winter or Pathor Kuchi and Dopatis now in monsoon.
We have a good collection of cacti, thanks to my husband (Monoj Choudhury). While cacti are beautiful, they are difficult to clean through thorns but my husband will not hear of it. On every trip to Kalimpong, we return with no other souvenir but cacti.
Flowers bloom on a Cactus under Choudhury ’s care. (Right) A summer Rose
Our two Amrapali Mango trees have always been bountiful but last year’s yield beat all records. We shared with family, friends, neighbours but stocks refused to exhaust. The challenge is that all the fruits ripen at once and quickly go bad. Finally, our domestic helps caught hold of some vendors to come buy our surplus! They bought nearly 2,000 Mangoes for Rs 2-3,000.
However, Mango trees only bear fruit once in two years. So in 2023, only one of our trees produced fruit, and that too, just about 100 of them.
We have some vegetables like Tomatoes and Brinjals too. When the Brinjal plants were bearing fruit a while back, I didn’t have to buy any from the market. Alas! The vegetables sprouted just before the price hike in the market.
We set up a concrete round table on the terrace hoping to sit there amidst the greens. But it’s too hot to do so in summer and there are too many mosquitoes to do so in winter. It’s rarely, when some guest comes over, that we go and sit upstairs.
Gardening is a relaxing and satisfying hobby and I find it rewarding to see the fruits of our labour. Like when I see buds appearing on the mango trees, I feel a sense of personal achievement.