Several years ago, in the month of July, we went on one of our trips to a place called Bomdila. It’s a hilly town in the neighbouring state of Arunachal Pradesh and like all places in the foothills of the Himalayas, the weather is cooler and the plants, prettier. Despite the time of the year there was no rain wreaking havoc on narrow hill roads. Getting away from the heat of the plains was a wonderful respite. We drove by ponds where water-lilies vied for blooming space. When the ascent started, wild, pink begonias ran riot spilling over the road banks. As we went higher my young sons whooped in delight as streams of water tumbled down the steep mountainsides. The sprays caught the light and little sun bows danced in front of our eyes. On the narrow roads we crossed countless vehicles stuffed to the gills with tourists. Down below, the roaring ribbon of whitewater rushed on its endless journey.
The mountains, the spectacular mountains, evoke in me a deep sense of reverence. On the distant peaks, prayer flags fluttered gaily. In July, Bomdila was a floral delight. Most homes had begonias and fuchsias growing in all imaginable kinds of containers…clay and ceramic pots, oil and food containers and in buckets. Nasturtiums spilled out of straight and straggly fences, and pansies seemed to go/grow wild!!
Near our hotel I noticed a sign that said Norling Nursery with an arrow pointing towards its direction. The next morning we made our way to Norling . We passed by a little spring, a feature of most hilly or mountainous terrain. The nursery was on a hilltop with a magnificent view of the mountains and the valley below. Every imaginable hue burst out of containers, and of course most of them were plants not suited to the plains. While the lady showed us around, her husband made two steaming cups of tea for us. Sitting there, surrounded by exotic blooms, and the whisper of the wind in our ears, the glitter of sunlight on the river below, and the prayer flags in the distance….it was beautiful! The conversation veered towards Tibet, they spoke about fleeing their homeland and the atrocities inflicted on their people. They even lent us a copy of the autobiography of the Dalai Lama. They said we could leave the book at the hotel’s reception and that they would collect it later. We thanked our gracious hosts, paid for the plants we’d selected and left. This is one nursery visit I shall cherish…
In the evening at one of the shops that we went to, when I mentioned my visit to Norling, the shop owner asked me when I would be leaving. When I told her the time, she asked me to pick up a begonia plant from her shop. The next morning I walked down to the market where she had a lovely plant ready for me! She absolutely refused to accept any money!!
Before I went to Bomdila, the images I had in my mind of the place were of red apples and snow. This was due to two girls (siblings) from my school whose father was posted there, and they often gushed about the apples and the snow. But after my visit, I have some more endearing images of my own….