02 November 2010

Double whammy

This year we had an extended southwest monsoon. Before it got over, Bangalore was hit by the northeast  monsoon. So my garden has taken a double hit. With winter nearing, the sun is hidden behind a tall building, whose owners have been thoughtless enough to build right up to our garden wall. Deprived of sun, the garden and balcony plants upstairs are infested by mealy bug. Today our part-time gardener, Nagaraj, is giving everything a neem-oil spray -- the task is too much for me.

Even the fire bush, which is usually pest-free, has a bad case of mealy bug. It's being pruned and then sprayed. I had to overrule my husband, who forbade Nagaraj from pruning it on his last visit. Today, Nagaraj brought a fire bush sprig to show me how bad the infestation was. I asked him to prune it immediately, but he still checked with me twice if it was ok with 'Sahib'. I told him Sahib had been informed of the crisis and there was no danger of an eruption from him.

It's interesting that Nagaraj calls my husband 'Sahib'. In south India, honorifics like 'Anna' (elder brother) and 'Amma' (mother) have always been used. In these more egalatarian times, even in the more-feudal north, 'Sir', 'Madam', 'Didi' (older sister) have replaced Sahib and Memsahib. Nagaraj has a north-Indian bent -- speaks fluent Hindi -- and so calls me 'Maaji' (respected Mother) instead of Amma. My daughter's household help in Delhi, on the other hand, feeling that 'Maaji' doesn't suit my tinted locks and jeans-clad look, just call me 'Mummy' -- sometimes 'Mummyji' when they feel I deserve extra respect.

No pics this time; garden in too depressing a condition.