Buying flower and vegetable seeds and seedlings for the cold weather necessitates a long road trip to Siliguri or to Mal Bazaar. It’s a bit like an annual pilgrimage. We (women) obsess and worry about whether we'll be too late in the year to plant, whether we'll get seeds, whether the seeds we do get will germinate, and what the weather will be like. A friend's husband asked us why we did it at all if it was so painful. Men never understand that we love to complain to them about the things that we really like doing. We enjoy the whining as much as we do the planning, purchasing, and the planting itself.
I like visiting the Paul Nursery in Mal Bazaar to pick up seedlings and seeds. It’s a favourite haunt with most tea garden people. I first visited the nursery in 1988, and have been a regular there ever since.
Paul Nursery was established in 1957 by Mr. Jyotirmoy Paul. He is in his late seventies now, but is actively involved in the daily business of running the nursery.
He remembers every one of his regular customers. It is obvious that his family reveres him. They all pitch in and work there, collecting and packing seedlings for customers, watering and tending the plants, writing out bills and so on. No one ever rushes around in a hurry or talks loudly. They answer all the customers’ questions about plant care patiently. Mr. Paul has given me some great tips over the years. This time I met his young grandson (in the picture, with his parents and grandfather), who was home on leave from his army posting, and helping the old folks out. The nursery’s a good place to spend some time in, just walking about and looking around. It isn’t a ‘garden’ but it fits my idea of what a garden should be like – it soothes and relaxes the spirit. There’s a sense of order and of peace. The courteous welcome, the presence of the family, and the old world atmosphere make each visit a happy experience.