The famous poet Edgar Allan Poe said, ʻWith me poetry has not been a purpose, but a
passion”. Meeting Pausha Kumar reminded me of these lines, albeit not in the context of
poetry but in the context of gardening. Possessing grey fingers to say the least, I have always found myself drawn to people who are so close to our green friends. Having a quality of nurturing plants somehow makes a person virtuous and righteous. I can say for sure that people who are good at gardening are born with an inherent caring and nurturing abilities.
Pausha is one of that kind of personalities. Hailing from the greenest region of India, Kerala, she was brought up in army cantonments of different parts of India. Her passion for the green comes from her mother who was an avid plant collector and gave her ample exposure to this avocation. ʻ Every posting we went to, we were fortunate to have a house full of trees and my mother would turn certain space into a garden to pursue her passion. And that was a significant part of my growing upʼ says Pausha.
She with her husband and two kids moved to Cairo, Egypt in 2011, and found herself in
one of the most fertile lands of the world. The seat of the oldest civilization because of the river Nile, this city was a heaven for gardening enthusiasts. She was yet again fortunate to be stationed in a house which boasted of a garden.
ʻI had to convince my house owner to let me convert a patch of the lush green garden into kitchen garden so that I could grow some of the Indian vegetablesʼ she chuckles triumphantly.
She not only planted Indian vegetables like ridge gourd, bitter gourd, drum sticks, okra but
also added zucchini, radish, different kinds of lettuce, herbs like coriander, parsley to name a
few. She would bring many different types of seeds from India during each of her trips which she would then through into her garden.
Besides vegetables, ornamental plants also had their fair share of space in Paushaʼs garden. Sunflowers of the size of dinner plate, geraniums, creepers of all different kinds occupied a fair amount of space at her home. Her home in Cairo was bedecked with indoor plants like golden palm, anthuriums, cactus, bamboo to new a few. A beautiful by product of pursuing this passion is the friendships that it brings. Pausha says that the fresh produce from her efforts has always helped her in making new friendships. Her Indian friends could always count on her when they needed the vegetables that were used in the Indian cuisine and the non Indian friends would also get their pick for their cuisine.
Having spent two years in Cairo, Pausha is now based in Nairobi. Its only a cunning plan
of providence that she got a house in the greenest part of the city, Karen. She yet
again dwells in an abode which is full of trees and has plenty of space for her to practice
ʻNairobiʼs biggest advantage is its weatherʼ, remarks Pausha. ʻIts an awesome place to experiment and go beyond your comfort zone as far as gardening is concernedʼ she continues. She is now planning to cultivate Orchids.
At her house in Nairobi, she gives me a tour of her ʻwork of artʼ. The whole house oozes
of green power. One corner is adorned with peace lilies and the passage has been embellished with snake plants and anthuriums. Each and every corner has a life with a plant. She terms them as her extended family whom she has to nurture
and care for.
Her garden in Karen is a beautiful mix of vegetables, fruits and flowers. A patch has
an aroma of lavender and the source is the beautiful lavender plant with stunning
flowers. I cant resist but touch the leaves and pluck one to get the divine whiff. ʻI am a
proud owner of two varieties of lavender, the English and the Frenchʼ mentions Pausha. I
sort of disguise my ignorance about the varieties of lavender. Another patch is red with a few ripened strawberries, and from the hanging pot is blooming a Christmas Cactus adorning the droplets from last nightʼs rain. One patch welcomes with herbs galore and they are
indeed the most cherished ones such as thyme, rosemary, sage, lemon grass, mint, lemon verbena and then the drum sticks in one of the section take my attention. It indeed is a chefʼs paradise too.
ʻIts the most gratifying experience to see the plants blooming and the best part is that the fruits of this labor show up pretty soonʼ says Pausha. Her kids are also following her passion and keep collecting stems and saplings to bring home for her. When I ask about what is in store for the next season, with a certain penchant she gives me a long list which starts with spinach, tomato, kale, leeks, shallots, banana and can go on if I probe more.
This visit to her home has refreshed me to the core. Its difficult to understand whether its
Paushaʼs positivity that keeps the plants around her blooming or is it the vibrations from
the plant that make Pausha so vibrant and full of smiles. As I say goodbye and sit in my
car, I can still smell lavender and then I realize its from my hands which had touched the
lavender leaves and who have left their fragrance onto my steering wheel. A tiny stem of
motivation seems to have jut out in me and I see myself stopping by the nursery on my
way back home.