Mission Delhi – Ram Deo, Church of Epiphany, Gurgaon
One of the one percent in 13 million.
[Text and photos by Mayank Austen Soofi]
The day began as ordinarily as it always had for Ram Deo. He had no inkling that he would get sucked into the biggest crisis of his brief career as a gardener.
Its a cold but sunny afternoon and Mr Deo is quietly watering the general flora in Gurgaon’s Church of Epiphany. Some minutes later, a plumber installing an effigy of Santa Claus as part of the forthcoming Christmas Eve decorations casually asks for the name of purple flowers laid out along a track.
Mr Deo freezes.
“I know the name,” he murmurs to himself.
Thoughtfully tapping a finger on his head, the gardener says, “It has a very simple name….. it will come to me in a second…. wait!”
Meanwhile a couple of other folks busy laying out the Xmas decor gather about the gardener as if he is a PhD student called upon to defend his doctoral thesis to a committee of university professors.
A migrant from Amethi, UP, Mr Deo is new to the town and took tips in “maaligiri” from a cousin, who has been a gardener for many years. “I learned it all in six months…. I know which plant needs which treatment… and how to turn the soil…” He goes on to modestly assert that he knows the names of all the plants and flowers one might chance upon in this part of the National Capital Region.
But, ahem, what about this purple flower?
Mr Deo picks up the pot and looks closely at the flowers, eyes in deep concentration.
A church worker helpfully suggests the name to be cineraria.
Mr Deo vehemently shakes his head.
Now an electrician who is decking fairy lights around some leafy hedges walks over and playfully teases that Mr Deo should “start eating almonds for better memory.”
The gardener lamely says, “Arre bhai, the name’s on my lips!”
Laughter follows. Mr Deo also joins in, though looking a tad embarrassed.
Soon all the men go back to their work. So does Mr Deo.
Some two minutes later he suddenly exclaims—-“dianthus!”
[This is the 177th portrait of Mission Delhi project]
A gardener’s decisive moment