The verdant greens of Bali were still on the mind. A rich, somewhat wild canopy of vegetation that crept up even on spaces carved out by human beings to keep it away. Yes, the rich colours, luscious textures, even familiar foliage of coleus, looked brighter, healthier.
The weather and proximity to the equator had helped to bring out the glory of the vegetation and local architecture was built around natural features, it did not seem to fall into the common trap of trying to compete with nature, it complemented it. Public places like restaurants with huge rooms, high roofs and no walls allowed for air circulation that made the need for air-conditioning largely redundant, “window” chicks were raised or lowered as required.
Like typical vacationers, we revelled in the difference, even as we sought the familiar. Much of the fauna and flora was what we have back in India, and thus we were less awed than European visitors, who soaked in the sun and guzzled local brews.
In contrast was the magnificently manicured glory of Singapore. Here each plant seemed to have received individualised grooming.
As we walked through the Botanical Gardens, my wife, Jaspreet, saw flashes of what Leisure Valley of Chandigarh could have been. Familiar foliage, gently undulating land, planned pathways — yet all lush, again because of the weather, and the immaculate grooming — contrasting with the lackadaisical approach back home. Diversion of resources, the 60-odd malis of Leisure Valley who largely attend to Sahibs’ homes rather than their officially assigned work, lack of supervision and the possibility of ticketing such areas to raise funds for their upkeep, all came up.
We saw some well-equipped and silent gardeners diligently working at the Botanical Gardens. The signs that explained various features and a general air of discipline were impressive. The great manmade Cloud Forest at Gardens by the Bay was another world altogether.
All good things, especially vacations, come to an end. All too soon, it was time to get back to Chandigarh. The first duty to perform was to walk our dog, Hazel. She made her displeasure at our absence quite evident but perked up at the prospect of going out. Our little garden looked lovely, the flowers were in full bloom, colourful splashes that livened up the corners of a lush green lawn right next to my mother’s room. The mali had worked hard and the fruits of his labour were there for all to see.
As we walked down the road, the foliage of trees was changing. Tender bright red leaves had peeked out from gnarly old trunks, some had green shoots, some leaves had turned yellow on their way out, other shrubs had bright yellow flowers, and beautiful wild rose ramblers were trained on walls.... Nature was there in all its glory for us to admire, and that we did, volubly discussing it, till my wife asked: “Why do we need to go on a vacation before we realise how much we have at home?”
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