A lot has been written about this garden. The garden is situated in the sector 16 of city beautiful Chandigarh. We used to live in small village adjacent to Chandigarh and crossed the garden while going to attend our college and Panjab university on bicycle. We have visited the garden a number of time.
Then I went away from my city for job and lived for 35 years out in the places like Dehradun, Sivasagar and Silchar in Assam and Mumbai in Maharashtra. Each city has its own personality which is comprised of monuments, its people and gardens and parks and civic amenities. Chandigarh is a new city built after partition of the country and Punjab lost its old capital of Lahore.
The rose garden is a aesthetic quality place in the city. Nicely maintained and ever adding the beautiful varieties of roses. The best time to visit is during February and March when flowers are in full bloom. There is a fare during the month of February to celebrate the beauty of the most written about and admired flower: the rose.
You can visit it any time. It is always there to offer you something. Even a leisurely walk through the zigzag paths inside, sitting on the lawns and enjoying the fountains.
I visited the garden again to renew my contact with it and recall the old memories. It is very cold weather. There was a hazy fog. Roses were not in full bloom due to frost. But there were plenty of them. The number of visitors has increased due to awareness and visitors are coming from all over India and abroad. Thousands of pictures are taken everyday on mobiles and uploaded to internet.
I also took several pictures. Some of them are shown below.
I saw the green pigeons first time in Sibsagar Assam. Firstly I was confused and took it for doves. I thought may be it is due some genetic defect in this bird. On close look, I discovered groups of them hanging on to the branches of Pipul trees and eating merrily the fruits which the trees bear when after autumn these are covered with new trees. I also observed another trait in these birds that unlike their cousins which prefer to roam on the floor and live in the houses, these pigeons never even came down and touched the earth. The birds were in plenty there. From the literature, it became known that they have Bangladesh, North-Eastern India and Burma as their habitat.
I am not sure that this is exactly the bird which is called Hariyal in the other parts especially Maharastra where the bird had been the reigning state bird.
After it dawned on the people who gives these titles to the birds that this bird is not unique to the state, the green pigeon has been stripped of this title and instead the Forest Owlet, a bird that is active during the day unlike its cousins, has upstaged the green pigeon as the state bird.
The honour is being taken away from the green pigeon because it has just dawned on the state that this bird isn’t unique to Maharashtra; it is found across not only India, but also in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Although this argument is arbitrary as can be seen from the fact that Magpie Robin is the state bird of Bangladesh, it is found in wide spread regions as far as Maharashtra in the Western edge of India. I am not giving arguments against the Forest Owlet being chosen to replace the green pigeon. It is us humans who tend to label the things. Neither the Green pigeon not Forest Owlet could care less about all this fuss about them.
The New Prince
On the other hand, the Forest Owlet that was struck off as extinct for 113 years, was spotted one morning in November 1997 at the foothills of the Satpuras, northeast of Mumbai.
“The recommendation to change the state bird will come up for approval when the wildlife board meets next,” said Anna Dani, additional chief secretary of the department of revenue and forest. The board, headed by the CM, last met in 2009. Later, in June 2010, the Bombay Natural History Society asked the government to take off the Harial (the green pigeon) as the state bird and elevate the snow-white Forest Owlet (duda) to that post.
Forest Owlet is also known as Athene Blewitti or Blewitt’s Owl after the man who discovered the species in 1872 in Busnah-Phooljan in eastern Madhya Pradesh, now Chhattisgarh. From 1884 the species was missing and was considered extinct. But after a gap of 113 years it was rediscovered in November 1997 by Ben King, Pamela Rasmussen and David Abbot at Shahada near Taloda in the Nandurbar District.
Now from this statement, it is clear that boundaries are for human beings not for the birds. A pigeon perches on ledges of a mosque with same ease as on the parapet of a temple. Some traits of the birds are given below:
•The Forest Owlet is slightly larger (8-10 inches) than the spotted owlet
•Ornithologists say it is bold and comfortable in the presence of humans
When in the year 1991, I got transferred to Mumbai from Silchar, the ONGC colony at Panvel was brimming with occupants so much so that I was allotted a B-type house that had been used as the storage for cement and other building material when construction was going on. After 6 months I got C-type accommodation but not before a flood entered our home. What logically everyone expects to happen in Assam happened with us here in Panvel. That was in 1991.
I got transferred to Assam second time in 2005. I was on leave in July when the flood attacked the colony and ravaged it. We are in the first floor and within minutes the water completely submerged the ground floor. A river was flowing outside in the street.
The flood of 2005 marked a watershed year in the history of the colony. People suffered big losses both emotional as well as economical. A fear psychosis developed in the minds of occupants and an exodus of residents began.
After this incidence, about 1/3rd of the flats in the ground floor are lying vacant. These flats were not even once thoroughly cleaned, disinfected after that. Slowly, the locks began to be broken. It seems that stray dogs-the whole battalions of which roam the colony, pigeons and mosquitoes have been given allotment in these flats. Mosquitoes are breeding and by the evening are on the rampage making every weapon like mosquito coils, good knights and sprays completely ineffective.
Everywhere on the roads, broken building materials are lying. Choice of trees which have been planted is very poor. On many lanes, the trees which are used for fuel wood have been planted. Then there are trees which when flower have so strong a scent that one can choke at night and many children suffer allergies at the flowering time. Other trees exude a certain gummy substance which ruins the paint of the cars standing below them.
Many of the trees are under the vicious attack of termite. There are dead trees standing in the lanes giving apocalyptic warning about the colony becoming a ruin. It certainly looks like a ruin. It is certain that hardly any officer connected with maintenance ever visits the interior of colony.
The story is set in the Sivasagar district of Assam. I was working there after a transfer from India’s most advanced city of Mumbai. This was transfer after long stay in Mumbai so it took some time to adjust in these surroundings. There is a big colony of our company and has given us quarters to live. My family did not accompany me. The place is abysmal if you are alone as the area lags behind rest of India in progress and it is very difficult to spend the time. The place is full of natural beauty because of lack of progress in industries. In fact the place can boast of being few places free of pollution in India.
It was a holiday and as usual I was sitting in the Verandah. I saw a pair of mynah sitting on the fence of the opposite building boundary. Male warbled continuously; spread his feathers from time to time and moved his neck up and down as if beckoning someone. Was he calling to some another female even as his wife was sitting with him? Was he polygamous or a philanderer?
Female, on the contrary was very reticent and sat peacefully presenting a complete contrast to us humans where all the talking after the marriage is done by females and males only listens. Whenever, female jumped away a few steps, the male kept the distance constant and hopped too. He preened his feathers intermittently to look a toff.
There were squirrels frolicking and jumping from one branch to another branch of the trees; they nibbled at the gnarled surface of the tree to scoop the gums oozed by the tree. These squirrels are blacker and more agile in comparison to their cousins in the North India; they can as long as six to seven feet without any need to taxi before take off. They are a nightmare of betel nut growers as they nibble at fruit; eat some and throw away the rest.