POST EVENT WRITE UP : Saplings Maintenance Drive at padappai May 7th

Mission – Saplings

A busy Friday evening at the office and I am rushing everybody at the office. “I need it all done by 4.” My mind is all set on the camping and saplings maintenance drive that night. I had gone to my first such camp just few weeks back. The hangover of the joy and fun was still lingering in my mind. Was recollecting all my awesome moments with CTC and realized that it’s already 2 years since my first tree walk. I have come a long way from there. Suddenly Nambi called me and told, “It’s raining over there and we might not be camping today.” I looked around and all could see was tinted glasses. For me it’s cloudy all the time as I can’t see the real world sitting inside the glass box full of AC. I looked harder and saw few clouds and was disappointed. At once I eased on the work. But again I got a call from him, “Its just drizzling it seems. The camp is on. Will confirm soon”. I brightened up and after sometime I got the final call saying that, “there is thunder and lightning. It won’t be safe camping. The camp is off. There will be maintenance work tomorrow morning.” I kept the phone on a disappointed note.
After 5 days of a tight life in the concrete jungle all I want is a getaway with the nature on weekends. And this getaway is for a cause. Tree plantation is the first thing strikes anybody’s mind when thinks of a green activity. But our job doesn’t end by just planting the trees. Saplings are just like little babies. We need to nurture and maintain them until they are strong enough to take care of themselves and grow into big beautiful trees.
We all are complaining about the overheated summer this year. This is very much the result of the activities that we do in the name of development. Development has changed the face of necessities today and the demand is surging for the products we can do without. In this race of raised standard of living, the city is expanding at an alarming rate cutting and clearing lots of forests. Trees are species we need to co-exist with and something we can’t do without. I hope our educated public understands the implications of deforestation that we all studied in our geography classes.
 It’s amazing to see crazy green warriors who put their soul in making the forestation drive successful.Every Saturday this maintenance activity happens at Siruvanjur near Padappai. There are around 1500 saplings planted over there. These saplings were planted on the CTC green day on August 29th 2015. These saplings were almost destroyed during the Chennai Floods but the dedicated efforts of the CTCians, around 80% got revived and are growing successfully. These trees are planted based upon the suitability of the soil, climate and topography. Only native varieties are spread in this stretch. Naaval, Neer Marathu, Bamboo, Pungai, Aalamaram, Ilupai and Vetpaalai  trees are planted.To grow a sapling into trees lots of maintenance is needed. 
Maintenance activities include:
·        # Panchaakaviyam – Panchaakaviyam is organic insect repellant made out of five cow products – dung, urine, milk, curd and ghee. Its serves as manure and helps in the healthy growth of the sapling.
·         #Mulching – Mulch is the protective layer of leaves and materials like coconut coir that is spread on the top of the soil to make sure the manure and inner layer stays safe.
·         #Bund – Creating a bund means digging enough space around the saplings so that the water can stay.
This was the 10th maintenance drive after the floods. As decided I was waiting for Abirami at 4:30am at Panagal Park. She came along with Ashwin and Rajesh. The car was loaded with the gardening equipments. We went to Tambaram to pick the rest of the troop. We realized that there were quite a few dropouts after the cancellation of the camp. We reached MCC where few guys were waiting. There were 30 people who had registered for the event and around 20 turned up. We were glad to see the happy to help people. What was amazing is that many girls turned up on that day. The population was almost equal for girls and boys. And these girls came all by themselves till Tambaram, from where we grouped up and started towards Padappai. Bensh and his roomie were coming on their cycle. All the time I kept wondering ‘What’s the secret of their energy?’
The roads looked dry. It looked as if all the water just evaporated for the heat. But as we approached towards out camp site we saw few puddles. That sight itself was satisfying. It was an indication that our little friends had a good shower.
 As soon as we reached, all started off with the work immediately. Abirami and I went to fix the breakfast. The farmers working on the opposite field were harvesting cucumbers. We went and bought the fresh and juicy cucumbers. The cucumbers were just being pulled out from the soil. I have never tasted anything so fresh in life. The cucumbers were oozing water. That’s what pure nature feels like – Energy oozing. The fragrance of the wet soil and the shade of the trees got us back to our summer holidays at our villages.
Then we moved to get drinking water and breakfast. Our usual shop was not there anymore. We came further and found a Chettinad Mess. They were just putting Idli and Vada. As soon as we asked them to pack the idlis their hands reached to plastics. This shows how plastic dependent we have become. We told them to put it all in steel containers and we will manage. Somehow we got it packed as per us, and started towards our site with the food and banana leaves.
All were famished and thirsty. All had a break and charged on the idli and vada. The food was delicious. The food tastes more delicious when eaten with hands served on banana leaves. The idli and vada was over in no time. It’s been 2 years since I am part of CTC and till now I have never come across a grown up in terms of food here. The combination of childlike nature and visionary maturity is a rarity but I found many such people here because they know what they are doing and what actually matters.
We were carrying on the work of putting bund around the plants today. Around 400 bunds were put in a matter of few hours. 
Thanks to the showers, the soil had loosened up and made our work easier. The bright green leaves were a sign of happy plants and that’s what we work for.
 I have seen people of all ages coming and contributing towards building the green future. The involvement of kids when they come is amazing and they brighten us up. Camping, maintenance, hiking and all that I do here always make me feel I should never grow up.
After the exhausting work we crashed in the car seat. And when I opened my eyes I was back to T Nagar. This is what I call as a weekend well spent. Weekend is what I work for.
                                                                                                                                                                    About the Author :Jolly James

Investment Banker | Painter | Dancer | Writer | Poet
Few clicks from the event

Team Ainthinai

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