Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Farmer yet again, for a day.

I was up with the lark, quite excited with today's plan of action as the phase II of the farming activity rolled out. It actually consisted of four activities which were, collecting the requisite saplings, acquiring the right amount of the 'start up' fertiliser, the planting of the saplings and the administration of the fertiliser, thereafter. The caretaker had told me to be ready by a half past 7, but in the excitement, I was ready much before.

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It was heartening to note that not much of grass had grown on the JCB prepared land, even though it has been raining almost continuously over the last fortnight Today, there was bright sunshine though rains later on in the day was a possibility! The clouds said it, you see and you must understand that I'm a former-naval-officer turned farmer!

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Three workers had been spoken to but they fetched up late and I was getting impatient because I wanted to see the completion of work before I left by the evening train, back to Guruvayur. We, finally, set off for the nursery, about 5 kms away, a few minutes past 8. Two of the labourers, Podiyan and Unni, were taken along while the third, Pillai - he happens to be a distant relative, being the uncle of a cousin's wife, addicted to the bottle and does farm jobs. I was meeting him for the first time and felt bad, but!...... - was deployed on the plot for measuring and marking the spots where trenches had to be dug for planting the saplings on the raised embankments/platforms(That lay on an east west axis), prepared earlier. We went in the caretaker's pick up truck, who used to get visibly embarrassed whenever the driver addressed him as 'Muthalali' - the Malayalam equivalent of 'Sethji', in Hindi.

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'Tropical Buds', as the nursery is christened has a wide repertoire of plants, herbs and fruit bearing plants. I made a mental note of visiting this place more often so that I could present some of my close friends and relatives - who're genuinely interested in gardening - with the plants on offer. We, finally, took 140 rubber, 20 teak and 11 coconut saplings - the initial estimate of 110 rubber plants was found to be inadequate as the trenches were being dug, after measurement and Pillai had given me the report! One and three quarter bags of bone meal were also brought in immediately after and the work had started in right earnest.

I must give you the sequence of work in some detail because it impressed me and I'm sure you'd too!

      * Pillai makes measurememts, puts a flag on the raised embankments/platforms, where trenches
         were to be dug. He, then, places each sapling near the designated spots.
      * Podiyan and Unni, make the trenches to the requisite dimensions.
      * They, then, plant each sapling the manner in which it was done went something like this:-
          - the polythene wrapper around each sapling was neatly cut and removed with safety blades
            (Specifically, bought for the purpose!) before being seated in the dug trenches, with room left
            for the bone meal to be put in, subsequently.
      * The three of them apply the manure before sealing each of the trenches that have the saplings in

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Well co-ordinated and systematic! Standing out in the alternating sun and rain with the boys, with an umbrella atop, worked wonders as they shared their interests, doubts and apprehensions!!

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The three of them worked till about 1830h - much beyond their closing time of 1700h - because of the covenant that we'd established among ourselves that I could board my train, back to Guruvayur, satisfied that the phase II activities were completely over!


(a) There's an increasing tendency among the workers to demand from their employers a drink in the afternoon, to 'stimulate' them at work which is often hard and difficult, taking in the brunt of the weather! I made it clear in the beginning itself that I didn't subscribe to this idea!! And I hate people who resort to this sort of pampering!!!

(b) I'd gotten into the cheapest form of transport from Kuri halt to Guruvayur in the Punalur-Guruvayur Fast Passenger with the fare @ Rs.55/- This train came into being, courtesy the local MP of the previous Lok Sabha, to facilitate people who wanted to have a 'darshan' of the Guruvayurappan. It reaches its destination at 3 AM and returns at 6 AM and no reservations were required - a poor man's transport indeed, for his communion with god!

At Kayankulam, a family consisting of an elderly couple, their daughter and daughter-in-law with the latter's son - the relationships get clear through the thread of conversation that one's privy to, however much one likes to dissociate with it - had got into the enclosure where I sat. The daughter-in-law's initial inquiry was about my destination and after hearing my answer seemed to be a twad disappointed because the next 'typical mallu' requirement would have been to shift you wherever you can find a place, so that they can be together(?)! And I made my intentions very clear that I wasn't going to budge. Later, I realised that the lady was very, very conscious as she lay with her son on the bunk opposite mine with her mother-in-law stretching out next to me. Why I say this is that she kept glancing quite frequently at me while I kept myself busy with my laptop and the What'sApp on the cellphone......... Did I look like a potential molester or what, I wonder?    

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