My father took us to Trivandrum to show us Ravi Varma’s paintings at the art gallery next to the zoo when I was 6 years old. More than the visit to the zoo and the art gallery, what I remember the most are two things.
One, njotta poo.. ( ? morning glory flowers). I really don’t know the name of the flower in English. All I remember is that you hold the flower petals together and smack it on your forehead, it pops. It was neat the bear enclosure. There were steps leading to the top from where you could view the bears through the open roof. We were not allowed to go up the steps because someone accidentally dropped their baby many many eons ago in to the bear enclosure and the rest of the story is pretty straight forward!
I was annoyed with my father because he could have held my hand. So while the adults climbed the steps to view the bears through the open roof, I found a tree that was covered with njotta poo creeper and is full of purple flowers. Happily I picked the flowers and smacked my head with the flowers to pop them and my father smacked my butt for embarassing him in front of his family/friends/colleagues and neighbours. May be you should add the bears too in the previous list !
Second thing I remember is the visit to some stately govt office building.. There was a fountain and lots of blue lotus flowers. My father took us there because blue lotus was rare and he wanted us to see them. There was also a row of shops across the govt building and my father bought me kadala muttai ( peanut candies) and I remember hoping against hope that his generosity would extend to a glass of naranga vellam ( lemonade). Alas, no such luck!
My father also taught me that if I am ever tempted to jump in to a lake for swimming, I should always look for lotus. If there is lotus growing, then the depth of water is less than 6 feet and it is safe. ( Lotus roots can’t grow beyond 6 feet)
Amma used to grow lotus in a small metal tub in our balcony in Bangalore. By then I had read about the Lotus Eaters. ( Homer’s Odyssey) It was also around the time I was trying to figure out what exactly I want from my life. The lotus eaters, they ate the lotus and spend the day in a dreamy land. ( lotus is supposed to be a narcotic). You don’t really have to do much to grow lotus.. so the people lived a very happy life not doing anything !
My house in Bangalore was near the main road and each day I watched men and women rushing to work, traders pushing their wares in carts, kids studying to pass the exams while waiting for the bus.. everything and everyone was in a hurry..but the lotus eaters.. they just ate the lotus and spend their days absolutely happy.
I felt, we are all chasing empty dreams..Success alone doesn’t bring happiness and I wanted to be happy. I wanted to do things that made me happy..
I did just that. I started to live a life where I chose what makes me happy and did that..still do..
And I also learned that , out of mud and dirt comes the most beautiful flowers !
I have always wanted to grow lotus. I never had time when we were in KL and it was not possible to grow them in Canada.
When I talked to the staff at my local garden center, they told me you can’t grow lotus in shallow water. As usual, I felt I have nothing to lose and planted them in a kiddie pool/sand pit.( 12$ at Bunnings)
In life, people always try to stop you from doing what you want because they assume they know better..but be the lotus eater..do what you want.