Wednesday, May 26, 2021

A walk in the garden!

It has been over month since we drove out of Bangalore to vacation at my parents’ farm Shristi, at Dharmasthala, and with the extension of lockdown in the State, we are now looking at getting on with our routine - school, work or probably even court work, connecting from here.  Of course, barring a few sporadic connectivity issues, we are more than thrilled to be working out of this serene eco-system that opens up to beautiful views from every window and look out. From the stunning view of Kudremukh ranges from the terrace on a clear day, to the glimpse of the colourful asters outlining our garden area from the balcony, or the panoramic landscape view of our areca plantation from the veranda, to the sight of the silvery sheet of rain soaking the surroundings, we are entreated to the nature’s spectacular imagery at every turn and corner.

What was meant to be a ten-day summer break has turned out to be an extended vacation of sorts for me and the kids, and having settled into a slow paced routine here at the farm, our treadmill-like life in Bangalore now seems like a distant memory. Except for my husband who has been working full time connecting to his virtual workspace from here, we have been off our regular routines as the kids have been on their summer vacation and I have been off duty for most part. Neither did we nor did my-in laws back in Bangalore expect to stay this long  and nor did my parents expect to have us for this long! 😊

While it’s been a dejavu for my son who spent last year’s lockdown at his most favourite place on earth, it’s been  a dream come true for my little one who had always envied her older brother’s extended stays at Shristi.  So much so that she has probably even forgotten that we have a home in Bengaluru! In fact, Aadya’s daily routine here is -  cycling around the courtyard, roaming around our farm, accompanying the cows as they are sent off grazing around our plantation, taking a stroll in the garden picking flowers, stopping just a bit to watch the butterflies hovering around the flowers,  pulling the vegetables off the vine, pausing to discover a nest perched on one of the branches, joining her brother in playing with the pet dogs, regaling the farm workers non-stop with her over-the-top stories….. and with all this she couldn’t have cared any less for her Grade one class all set to resume next week!

Since Aadya’s all-time favourite activity is to spend time in our front garden, picking a wide assortment of flowers for the daily pooja by her father or grandfather or for the flower vase she happily arranges with the help of  her grandmother, or looking at the ready-to-pluck veggies grown in the garden, I knew she would enjoy Niyatee Parikh Sharma’s garden series as I’d like to call it. Brought out by tota books, we can’t thank Funky Rainbow enough for introducing us to Veer’s and Ananya’s green adventures in “The Tomato Thief” and “The Tomato Flood” written by Niyatee Parikh Sharma and illustrated by Alankrita Amaya.  

The Tomato Thief  has Veer eagerly and patiently waiting for the tomatoes to ripe in the green patch in his terrace garden and just as they seem ready to be picked, they vanish leading Veer to go on a who-dun-it-expedition, making him interrogate each and every member and visitor of his household, from his naughty sister Ananya,  Baba, Shoba aunty  Ramu Kaka, his friends Shreya and Pranav, but to no avail. Veer even wonders if the aliens and their UFOs had anything to do with his missing tomatoes! Read on to find out the culprit …who also makes a surprise appearance on the sidelines of “The Tomato flood” (which was discovered by Aadya reminding me of Mo Willems’ books that always have the illustrations of characters of previous books making guest appearances in the later titles!)

In fact, we live through the likes of “The Tomato Flood” almost every other day, with our vegetable garden abundantly sprouting brinjals, okra, snake gourds, string beans and jackfruits more than we can eat, and we totally empathise with the predicament of Veer and Ananya’s mother who is forced to churn out every recipe there is in this planet with tomato as its ingredient….all thanks to Veer and Ananya’s gardening misadventures. Read this hilarious tale of how Veer and Ananya's family avert a tsumani of tomatoes from their garden! Both the books make for delightful reads and the author beautifully strings everyday occurrences into engaging light hearted stories. We love the playful yet relatable illustrations that have a sense of continuity in both the books, and definitely has us begging for more stories from Veer and Ananya’s household!

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