A chest of Resources!

Well the resources that have been catered to us are indeed incredible and a great encyclopedia from which I can draw a lot of inspirations and ideas.

 Some of the resources that were very inspiring and have proven to be  of great use are:

 1. Mythology of Indian Plants by Maneka Gandhi and Yasmin Singh:

 As I am personally interested in knowing the stories of mythology and history, it was a treasure for me to get this book as a resource which talks about the mythological stories about twenty nine native Indian trees. I have been enchanted and lost in these stories. The interesting part about the book is that it reasons the basic characters of the trees mentioned in the book by forming a story around it. For example, it says that the Coral Jasmine tree (Parijata) blooms only in the night because the princess Parijatha married the Sun God, Surya, who ditched her later and went back to the sky. Princess Parijatha died due to this apocalypse in her life and a tree grew out of her ashes. This tree bloomed only when the sun set and before the sun rise in the morning, all the flowers fell off the tree. The book also describes the basic scientific characters of each tree in brief.

 I always get attracted towards these stories and ancient realities. The moment I came across this book, it instantly occurred to my mind that I have to produce narratives and illustrations around these stories. Thus I thought of having story illustrations of the trees in my journal which brings about the story as well as the fact of the tree.

 2. Green Humor by Rohan Chakravarthy:

 While going through Rohan’s website, www.greenhumour.com, I was immensely impressed and set aback by looking at his works. Beside the enthralling illustrations and the humorous comic style, what more I liked about his work was that, each illustration had a fact and subsequent research behind it. Nothing in his illustrations was present just for comic sake. I really liked his interpretation of the various things happening around the world and their effects on the nature. The way in which the real life incidents were brought out comically was enjoyable and inspiring.

 The works of Rohan Chakravarthy have inspired me to think beyond just looking at the trees for their botanical properties but has urged me to find things which are unsaid. I aim to narrate the stories of these trees in a different way so that the audiences of our journal blog get more and more interested.

3. M H Marigowda The Library at Lal Bagh:

 As I have already described my interest in bringing out the mythological and historical stories of the trees of Bangalore, I would be visiting the library at Lal Bagh with an intention of finding material revolving around the stories of these trees. In addition to this, it would be great to look at the artworks of the plants and trees of Lal Bagh and get inspired from to form my journal.

4. Such Treasure and Merchandize by Annamma Spudich:

This book seems to be a great book and feels like it can help me trace back the stories associated with the trees’ history and their existence in India.

5. Varna Mythri The Art of Rumale Chennabasaviah:

 The artworks of Rumale Chennabasaviah are truly inspirational and have incorporated ideas to generate the views of complete areas which the trees have covered in Bangalore. In addition to this, the style of painting is truly encapsulating. What I like about his style is the simple use of brush strokes and mix of colors to portray the actual piece of landscape.

6. Sangeetha Kadur:

I personally have been inspired to keep an artistic journal altogether by looking at the works of Sangeetha Kadur on her blog. I have fallen in love with this idea of hand sketching, drawing and painting to maintain a book of ideas and observations around us. I am sure that now that I have started on with this act of journal keeping, I will definitely get habitual to it and my journal will remain with me throughout to come up with ideas and tools for designing anything in life ahead.

Advertisements

The Green Heritage Walk

It was a Sunday morning, 7:00 a.m. What better could I have asked for than being in the Lal Bagh – the enchanting place between the trees in the mist of rain drops and a cool surrounding. The magical day was sparkled with the more alluring stories of Vijay Thiruvady about the trees that existed in the park.

 It was not at all a botanical exploratory talk but was an enchanting world of stories that was built by this old man. His passion for the trees and endless energy despite of him being on steroids enticed me more. I realised that day that the surrounding trees have a lot more to them than just being a source of food and ecology.

 The stories that were narrated by Mr. Thiruvady revolved around the historical significances of the trees . How each tree or each specie growing in India and specifically in Lal Bagh at that moment, was brought to the country and what all history went behind it – the rule of the Britishers, the exchange of tree seeds, the stealing of tea plantations for cultivating it on Indian land and a lot more.

 The walk through the woods left me with awe and I could just think of making these stories reach out to the people for awakening their interests in the trees from a different perspective. This feeling of amazement was also brought in by the way of story telling.

 I now gotto know the trees in this factual yet hidden way. Also, I am thinking of how can I bring these stories to a platform where they can be easily reachable by people.

 Well, the day was not yet over! There was a surprise for all of us present there – the lavish and elaborate breakfast at one of the oldest restaurants of Bangalore – MTR with grape juice, rava idli, masala and plain dosa, gulab jamun and coffee.

 Being in Bangalore for nearly an year and a half, I had never looked at the garden city and the trees the way I was looking at now. I feel more curious to know about their history and being a part of the narrative!

Katte Mapping

‘Katte’ is a Kannada slang word which typically means a stone bench where in a set of friends team up often. In Hindi, it is a synonym for ‘Adda’.

 Image

One of our missions for the day, while we have been talking about the trees and the way they are being used, was to map kattes around these trees, to see how the social lives of people revolve around these kattes.

 In olden times, when there were less sources for entertainment, people used to gather around these kattes around sunset and used to play cards. Kids used to play hide and seek and other games under the shade of the tree. Even today, the kattes are treated as the meeting points for panchaayats in villages.

 When I was in a group of seven, mapping kattes at the outskirts of Bangalore, in the now turned city areas, I was kind of feeling lowly about the extinction of kattes for social purposes. It is so unfortunate that people have forgotten being in their natural surroundings and prefer socializing in luxurious and artificial places.

 The kattes are now commodities for only the religious spots as we saw them. One observation that came across after pointing at 8-10 kattes was that, these stone benches were built around only those trees which had great expanse and gave shade to a huge area. The trees mainly included only two types – Peepal tree and Banyan tree.

 It was quite evident that due to the sacred and supernatural myths attached to these trees, they were not knocked down. But surely enough, with the advancing development, I am sure that the myths would be realised as truly just being myths and these trees will finally be rendered as plain concrete roads or buildings!

A Walk in the City!

Walking around the city’s two contrasting yet close by areas was an unforgetful experience. What could be better than an early morning walk in the city with an intention of locating the trees in these areas and governing the functions of these trees.

We, a group of seven, went around the Shivaji Nagar area on foot and then its neighboring residential area of Cox Town, Cookes Town, Richmond Town and Harris Town to locate or map trees that we came across and the kind of trees present in these areas.

Interestingly and subconsciously we all were able to feel the existence and non-existence of trees in the residential (Cox Town) and commercial spaces (Shivaji Nagar) respectively. On one hand, where there were limited traces of trees in the Shivaji Nagar area, on the other hand, the Town area was filled with trees of different kinds which formed canopies along the street.

Interestingly the existence of these trees in the different areas was serving different purposes. In the Shivaji Nagar and surrounding areas, there were hardly any trees on the main road. It seemed as if the trees were knocked off for producing commercial space. However, there were three-four rain trees which were acting as the road dividers. These trees were most importantly giving shade to the area underneath. There was a taxi stand beneath the tree. A lot of vegetable vendors sat under the tree to sell their products. The trees’ shade was an area of social interaction where people chatted and it was a point of hustle in the market.

Image

 

Image 

In the residential areas of Cox Town, the trees served an aesthetic purpose. The place was cool due to the surrounding canopies of trees on all the streets. Also, because the area was a residential area, it was quiet and peaceful. Every house along a street had a tree inside its periphery which was nurtured by the residents. It was a grateful feeling that all these trees were conserved and looked after by the people. It also made me feel that many people are still sensitive about conserving and protecting trees and keeping the environment healthy.

Image

 

Image

Image

All in all, it was a great experience to map the trees in the city area and find interesting observations about their uses.

Tree-ick or Tree-ting

It was the first day of the tree-ick or tree-t project and what we did was crucial for all of us to stay connected to the project over the given period of time for which we had been attached to the project.

The idea of starting the course by forming stories around the trees which had their roots in our memories was a trigger to our minds to realize how trees actually are an integral part of life. 

Talking about my story, I was initially thinking of a memory which came instantly to my mind about a huge and very old Banyan tree at my school. Its canopy and form were the key features which made it the center for playing, snack serving during recess, correction place for teachers and also leisure time. But as soon as we were asked to map the trees of our memories in our surroundings, my banyan tree memory was replaced by an enjoyable memory of stopping by a tamarind tree to pluck its fruits while traveling between two towns.

While we were all roaming around the area, listening to the stories of the others, I realized that it is not just one, there are countless memories that are linked to the trees which otherwise I never realized and looked at it that way – those precious moments which made my childhood so playful.

Thus, this activity of storytelling served as a trigger for many memories surrounding the trees and making me realize the role of trees in my life.

The second session of the day, where I encountered the historical narratives of Bangalore’s landscape and the city’s existence, lead me to the state of awe. The stories of the discovery of the city and the development of its landscape by Kempegowda, Tipu Sultan and the Britishers were enchanting.

It made me wonder that every tree has some story attached to it, and it will be phenomenal to trace back these stories and attach a history to the botanical and biological aspect of the trees of Bangalore. In other words, watching the trick behind the tree in addition to the way it treats us.

The day was perfect to start with and build interest in what we were to do in the month to come!

 

 

A Tamarind Trail

Long time ago, when I was a kid, 8 years old, I used to love visiting my maternal grandparents’ house. My mother, my younger brother and all my maternal aunts and uncles with their children used to gather at their house in a town called Dhule near Mumbai during summer vacations. We were fifteen cousins altogether and my second cousins joined the gang from my neighboring grandparents’ houses. 

We all used to have great fun playing various outdoor games, going swimming, having pillow fights and running all around the house screaming and shouting and fighting and crying. We never felt like going back home and departing from others. Getting over with the vacation was a nightmare for us all. 

My grandfather had a sugar factory in a village called Taloda which was 90 kilometers from Dhule. Once it so happened that my uncles planned to visit Taloda to stay there and have fun over the weekend. It was not long since they announced this at home and all of us were filled with excitement and vigor to visit the sugar factory – play in the sugarcane farms, go for bullock cart rides, walk on the streets, collect some conical cap shaped sheds of a tree and what not. 

Soon enough, five cars started from home accommodating thirty people belonging to my house and my three neighboring grandparents’ houses. We all followed each other, sang and ate while on the journey. To our surprise, my uncle stopped the car in between, much before the destination. All the cars behind us stopped after us. And uncle said, “Look there, there are so many tamarind fruits hanging on that tree, let’s get on the tree, pluck some fruits and have fun”. It seemed as if we were only waiting for him to say something like that – adventurous yet fun. In no time, all of us were out of the cars and on that tree. A few of us picked stones from the ground and started aiming at the fruits hanging on the tamarind tree. Within half an hour, we gathered a bag full of tamarind fruits and all of us went along the journey slurping the sour-tasting fruit of the tamarind tree.

 It was a great journey and equally happening was our stay at the sugar factory. It was exactly what we had thought of  – visiting sugarcane farms, riding on bullock carts, walking the streets, looking at how the factory worked, sucking sugarcane and having bonfire party in summer with ‘hurda’ a grain which we roasted in bonfire and had with salt and jaggery. Everything was enormously enjoyable and memorable. 

Ever after, it became a trend to visit the sugar factory at Taloda, stop by somewhere in the middle, pluck and munch on the tamarind fruits, reach the factory, have fun and come back in two days. 

Tree-IDing

It was a mind blowing experience to visit Lal Bagh early morning. I was fantasizing about the visit before actually being in the park – about the feel of the park and the trees in the mist of the morning, about the very feeling of existing in between the vast expanse of natural space. This was going to be my first experience to be in a space like this that early and indeed the experience of being in the Lal Bagh early morning was mind blowing.

 I have been personally interested in knowing about the trees and identifying them, which so far I could not do due to other engagements. The reason for me to be a part of this project was also that I wanted  my interests and hobbies to lead me to open pathways and pool of ideas that I was consciously not exploring. I had been feeling that I am limiting my scope of thinking and creativity by forming boundaries around me and not looking beyond. Thus I decided to think openly and follow my instinct without bothering about the technical reasons of why I want to get into this and how will it help me in my practice. I only was thinking about the methodolgy that I will follow and which I can use for my practice further.

Indeed there are always things that one learns and is useful at any other time in work. It was a tremendous experience to learn various tools for identifying the trees and their leaves.

I had been afraid of drawing or sketching flora and fauna with free hand because I thought they were quite complex and their humungous property made it worse to draw. But fortunately, in the workshop with Sangeetha, I learnt the blind  contour, modified contour and gesture sketching techniques of quickly drawing the live plants and trees and their elements. These techniques have taken away my fear of sketching nature to an extent.

 The brief explanation and live examples given about the shape, size and identification of the leaves and flowers have inspired me to stay closer to my interest of knowing and being with nature. The day has also inspired me to be aware of the vast diversity of flora and fauna by continuously engaging and questioning about the nature. I felt a step closer to my natural environment when I was trying to form a relationship with them in the park that morning. The fact that I encountered about trees that they also feel, sleep, grow and count gave me goosebumps and made me think how alive they are. Disappointingly, just because they don’t speak, the trees are taken for granted by humans.

 The process of forming a journal for noting down the interesting points and thoughts about the trees was the greatest tool that inspired me to stay connected with identification, sketching, painting and observation of trees and knowing more about them. Somehow, the idea of sketching and drawing has attracted me to do more work and know more about my surrounding trees.