By Chitra Jha March 2013 A home right in the middle of chaos and pollution can be traumatic. Chitra Jha makes peace with her new surroundings by discovering the hidden delights of the garden that surrounds her home In July 2012, we moved from Srinagar to Bangalore on posting. (Yes, we defense folks move more than most others do.) Upon hearing of our re-location, many people congratulated us as we were moving to ‘civilization,’ but many sympathized with us, “Oh, you are going to miss the beautiful valley, the paradise on earth.” My husband and I had mixed feelings. We had lived in the energy of the Himalayas for so long that we did not know if we would like the hullabaloo of a city. Nonetheless, we were looking forward to all the fun that a city offers, and of which we were deprived for so long. We loved Bangalore from day one. The perfect weather was surely the clincher, but perhaps it had also to do with the number of old majestic trees dotting both sides of most roads. That was until we moved into a house right next to the uppity MG Road. Most material things I own lose value with each passing day, but my garden grows in value with each passing moment The perils of living in a ‘happening’ neighborhood were made apparent immediately by the 24×7 noise pollution right inside our bedroom. It rankled me no end, and I resisted it big time; even toying with the idea of wearing ear plugs at all times. That is when I began to call our move, ‘From a monastery to the marketplace’, only to be reminded of my own lines from the book, The Art and Science of Meditation, “A balanced person gives equal importance to both the monastery and the marketplace. He understands that the apparent paradoxes of duality serve our interest, and are essential for our well-being.” These sentences urged me to accept the noise as it is. Gradually, the ubiquitous sounds, though an irritant at times (especially while conducting my healing sessions), became just a background hum. As I made my peace with the traffic, and began connecting with the energies of my home, I realized that thanks to many old (and huge) trees in our front and back yard (we can hardly see the sky, thanks to the canopy formed by Bangalore’s famous rain trees), the energies were very much alive, despite the proximity of polluting fumes. We planted more trees, vegetables, flowers, shrubs, herbs, and grasses, and their added cumulative energies began to enrich our lives in more ways than one. Since I am an ardent fan of the Siberian recluse Anastasia, of The Ringing Cedars of Russia Series fame, I started to notice the truth of her words in our own home garden. Anastasia says that the air and the water give us life under an impulse of love. She also speaks about the wholesome nourishment, which can be derived from dissolved pollen and diffused fragrances of flowers, grasses, trees, and fruits in the air. Such simple truths come alive in our garden every day as I partake of this enriched air, right next to a busy street. I begin to wonder how we dig our own graves, so to say, by not giving enough importance to open spaces and trees around our homes. When we shut ourselves in air-conditioned homes, feeling smug about our well-being, we forget that the recycled air can never be a match to natural, pollen-laden, fragrant air. Thanks to the brown landscape, the air we encounter outside our air-controlled havens is usually dust-laden. The irony is that we get so used to inhaling stale air that we become allergic to the life-giving pollen in fresh air. Even when we are not here, the energies of these plants, bushes, and fruit-bearing trees will not decay. In Bangalore, we come across many people who complain of such allergies. According to Anastasia, “Fresh air contains all varieties of pollen which is alive, capable of fecundation, and easily digestible. With each breath it goes in, dissolves, and not only nourishes the body, but also feeds the spirit within.” In the wee hours of the morning and at dusk when I walk through our home garden, I feel delighted at the sight of all the shrubs and trees planted or inherited by us, and positive emotions come bursting forth. It seems as if every leaf is delighted to see me, as it tenderly responds to my touch. I pluck a tomato or two, pick some green chilies, collect some basil leaves, or take some brinjals off the plants, and then wonder, “Why did I stop in front of this particular plant? Why did I pick precisely these vegetables or leaves? Perhaps they called out to me? Perhaps I need to eat them today?” When I bend down to smell a tiny grass flower or crane my neck up to smell a papaya flower, I ask myself, “Why did I do this? Did some elemental energy nudge me to take in the aromatic ether of this particular flower?” As I walk around, smiling to myself, singing, or thinking about some personal matter, while simultaneously taking in the energies of the green kingdom, not necessarily thinking about them but feeling them, I become enriched and fulfilled. Anastasia talks about some mechanism through which exchange of information occurs between one’s body and the life surrounding it. I guess that is what happens in one’s own garden with the plants, the trees, and the multitude of insects, birds, and small animals that call it their home as well. As I mull upon Anastasia’s words, “Nothing can give man a greater emotional charge or abundant energy than one’s own life-giving home space,” my garden speaks to me, and says, “True delight and peace is attainable only in one’s own family domain.” These words make me wonder about ever living without a garden in my domain. It dawns on me that most material things I own lose value with each passing day, but my garden grows in value with each passing moment. Tomorrow we may not be here to enjoy what we have planted, but the energies we have set forth through these plants, bushes, and fruit-bearing trees will not decay. It will live on to please some other eyes and palettes that will feast upon it. As I take in lungfuls of air, which carries thousands of invisible plant pollens, I wonder what would have been the state of the air in our family space if someone had either not planted some trees or had chopped them down. Perhaps the traffic fumes would have had the last laugh at our expense.
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