Gandhi Jayanti

In my garden there are native and exotic plants, long plants and short plants;

Choisya

Choisya

plants that are standard and non-standard; and some that are self-fertile and some that require cross-pollination. I have plants that are variegated, plants that are colourful

Japanese Maple

Japanese Maple

and plants that are plain. There are weeds, and refugees from other gardens, and some uninvited guests. Each plant has a unique history, a story to tell, and most contain, in their gene pool, the essence/quintessence of some far off land and ancient culture. There is no homogeneity in my garden, except at that most basic level of planthood; that  fundamental point, whatever it is, that makes them living, breathing plants and not living, breathing animals. Yet, despite the variety and complexity of my garden inhabitants, I find that, if I provide them with water and food and treat them equally with politeness and respect, mixed in with a little song and a few sweet nothings, they thrive. Yes,  even with the most basic of provisions, they thrive.  They don’t fight or squabble, put each other down, rip each other apart for competitive advantage or napalm each other.  They are a miracle of good neighbourliness and co-operative, companionable living, willing and eager to share their environment with birds and bees, wild life,  and humans, too.

The multi-dimensional, multi-cultural and peaceful nature of my garden, reminds me that this time, thirty-five years ago, I was preparing to start the Michaelmas Term at Oxford University. I was a  young seedling transplanted from a small island in the Pacific to one of the most wonderful cities in the world. I was about to flourish, and enjoy one of the best years of my life, within the nurturing environment of the Oxford University Foreign Service Programme.

For one academic year, I , along with several dozen others, from all curves of the world, lived and laughed and learned…. and, yes ,sometimes, drank too much and, sometimes, loved unwisely, and sometimes, cried.  We were a microcosm of the world; we were all faiths, all cultures, all social and political classes, all sizes and shapes and ages, and, as you can see from the photo, all hairstyles 🙂

Foreign Service Programme in West Berlin

Foreign Service Programme in West Berlin (and I am very difficult to find in this photo)

Our common ground was in our education and our human-ness. We were nourished and cared for by the University, our daily needs provided for, and most of us were generously supported by that most British of  British institutions,   the British Council.  And, for  that, one, much too short, year, we were, despite our differences, the embodiment of good and peaceful co-existence; the way our world could be.

This post is written today in honour of the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi who was born on October 2nd, 1869.  Today is a national holiday in India. Worldwide, it is the UN International Day of Non-Violence.

http://www.un.org/en/events/nonviolenceday/index.shtml

to hear Mahatma Gandhi speak click here

Blossom in Peace

Blossom in Peace

For a good read on ‘things British Council’ and the mess of war and displacement, try Fortunes of War by Olivia Manning:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olivia_Manning

Michaelmas 

is the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel and also denotes the first term of the academic year.

© silkannthreades

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102 thoughts on “Gandhi Jayanti

  1. lagottocattleya

    I really enjoyed this post . too. As I enjoy every post of yours. My life is turbulent and bewildering right now, so hopefully I will be able to read more posts …soon. It’s difficult to concentrate.

    Your garden and your year abroad, growing, living and rejoicing in life and its possibilities. Beautifully written, accompanied by the photos from your garden and its lush plants. Your gift f putting posts together that sorts things out and brings life together…I love that. thank you for being there.
    And, I was born 2nd of October.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh really, 2nd October. Happy Birthday. It’s my son’s birthday too, as well as my grandparents wedding anniversary. It’s a special day in this household. Perhaps your daughter, experienced some of my feelings when she came to New Zealand for a while 🙂 By the way, how is your father now, if I may ask?

      Reply
      1. lagottocattleya

        He is very ill. Today leaving for Lund, which is our main hospital for neurological surgery. My mother is devastated and doing poorly. I am an only child. Thank you for asking – you are a very considerate and lovely person.

        Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Our generation is the ‘sandwich’ one; we have the care of our younger ones, our working life, our domestic life, and the care of our elders. It is not easy, at all, but I know our parents deeply appreciate the care we offer them, even when they can’t always express it. As I said, travel well and take good care of yourself.

  2. teamgloria

    OH! how tremendously lovely and lyrical and looking-out-into-the-Quad-with-fondness

    Michaelmas Term
    Oxford University
    flourish
    Foreign Service

    a haiku of blessed Youthful Years.

    *sighsHappily*

    loved reading this.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Sighing happily, in return, that Who You Are in Real Life gave *tg* some free time to read about who I once was and, maybe, still am, a little bit. I forgot to mention, the Bells. Listening to the Bells from my attic room. That was a blessing.

      Reply
  3. greenlightlady

    What beautiful thoughts of peace and community you have planted in my mind… I will ponder these the next time I am working in my perennial borders (We share some of the same plants).

    Blessings ~ Wendy

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh excellent. Isn’t it wonderful that we share some of the same plants? It’s so fascinating to see how plants have colonized the world. Some of them have made themselves so special to us that we have carefully carried them to all corners of the world. Clever plants 🙂

      Reply
  4. Pingback: Will it all come out in the wash? or Why I need a Sarah’s House Make-Over | silkannthreades

  5. Marylin Warner

    What a lovely post this is, for so many reasons. The Japanese Maple brought me back again and again. My mother planted a Japanese Maple in the side garden area of their house and set stepping stones weaving around the seasonal plants. She and I made a little thatched roof birdhouse for the Japanese Maple tree. Your picture brought back many memories.
    I’m guessing that someone wearing glasses (on the right side) is blocking one half of your face, right? It’s a tremendous group shot, and I appreciate the way you describe the variety of individuals brought together by similar purpose. Well done.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Your mother’s Japanese Maple sounds beautiful, as does the little thatched roof birdhouse. I have a small weeping maple in the garden, too, but it seems to be struggling a little this year. They are such beautiful trees and I was so glad when I finally had the opportunity to plant them in my garden. And, you have spotted what there is to spot of me! I wish I had a better photo but I think it is the only group photo I have of that time.

      Reply
  6. Virginia Duran

    Wow! Impressed by your involvement in Berlin. Sounds like a great thing to be part of. Oh and let me guess, are you the one up right with short hair?
    Loved the Japanese Maple on your garden by the way 🙂 how big is it?

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Short hair, but only one eye visible. Those were my very, very short hair days. The maple is about 2 metres tall I think. Maybe a little higher. It’s tall and thin, unlike me 🙂

      Reply
        1. Gallivanta Post author

          Yes, I expect I am an average height. My tree is such a rich deep red today; leaves glistening with raindrops. It does look monumental.

  7. Letizia

    I love your memories of your time in Oxford: you capture the intensity and pleasure of being young so perfectly, from the amazing experience of intense studies, to drinking a little too much and falling in love perhaps too quickly. Your words always paint such wonderful stories!

    Another reason why I love your posts is that because we live in different hemispheres, I often see my garden reflected in a time mirror in yours. Just as your Japanese Maple is rejoicing in its beautiful red leaves, mine is starting to lose its leaves in preparation for winter. Your photos make me appreciate this beautiful tree of mine all the more!

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Thank you, Letizia, for your lovely comment. I love your expression ‘time mirror’. Makes me think that we should develop a time lapse photography post featuring our Japanese maple trees. Wouldn’t it be glorious? I am sure someone would know how to do it; just not me 🙂

      Reply
      1. Letizia

        That does sound like a fun project! Unfortunately, I’m as technologically illiterate as you seem to be but perhaps one day we’ll learn 🙂

        Reply
  8. melodylowes

    Your Japanese maple is so lovely. I have always wanted one, but they re too tender to grow in my garden, so I will have to enjoy yours instead. I like the connection you make between your garden and your year in transit, growing and developing along the way…

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, the Japanese Maple is rather tender-hearted and thin-skinned. Mine actually gets a bit too much wind where it is, but it does okay, anyway. You could have a bonsai Japanese maple 🙂 on your window ledge. Or not…glad you enjoyed mine!

      Reply
      1. Ralph

        I hope you are getting the URL (apple) from your own Media Library and not trying to copy my post exactly. It won’t work for you as you do not have access to my Library.

        Reply
        1. Ralph

          Okay. I will draft a video post tomorrow. I have my apartment cleaner coming soon and then I’m off out. Happy Sunday Gallivanta and well done 😀

  9. Anonymous

    “very hard to find in this photo” — are you the short one in the balcony level whose “#1” hand-sign is just barely visible over the center of the rail?

    Reply
  10. Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    how great it is to have a little time to devote to your posts! ah… a tonic!!!! there are so many amazing species here in mindo 5,000 ft elevation, and so many of those are fragrant! if not fragrant, then huge, prolific and colorful. you’d like it here! the tradeoff is zero internet/phone signal for the wifi modem, so i’m way behind and have missed so many of your posts.

    i’ve one more month of ‘little internet’ before i’m online more often.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      So glad that you were able to read some of my posts; they are probably not the easiest to read with slow internet!!! I am sure I would love the plants in Mindo; and the butterflies and moths. And your company 🙂

      Reply
  11. Clanmother

    What a wonderful opportunity for you to work alongside diverse and forward-thinking individuals. A kindred spirit is not one who agrees, but one who respects and acknowledges that time is short, the work is good, the burdens are shared and the rewards are from the heart. A wonderful tribute!!!

    “There are Seven Deadly Social Sins:
    Politics without principle.
    Wealth without work.
    Commerce without morality.
    Pleasure without conscience.
    Education without character.
    Science without humility.
    Worship without sacrifice.”
    ― Mahatma Gandhi

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      A beautiful description of a kindred spirit, Clanmother. And you have shared my burden in finding a wonderful quote from the Mahatma. I looked at many for my post, and froze with indecision. Thank you, thank you.

      Reply
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  13. ordinarygood

    Hmmm I think I can see your shy, but elusive self in the photo. Such hair-do’s and clothing to remember(as I do) and then hastily forget I think! I particularly love the lion dramatically photo-bombing on the stair railing. We have a photo of Jazz, our cat doing something similar in a family pic some years ago….lol.
    I am with you on the total joy that are Japanese maple trees.
    I sincerely hope your post touches the American decision-makers to turn to peaceful co-existence right now.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      A photo-bombing lion, indeed. I probably should have scanned the photo before posting but, hey ho, there’s only time to do so much. And to scan something I would have to go to the library! And, yes, the US situation is astonishing, to say the least. I am not sure if one can call it democracy at work or not. I think I prefer our ‘vote of no confidence’ solution to such problems.

      Reply
  14. Charlie@Seattle Trekker

    I have made a conscious effort to expand the plants that add wonderful smells in the garden so I planted my first Choisya ternate about 4 years ago; it was a great decision. I realize that was not really your point; I raised 14 children so I do fully agree with your point about diversity and embracing people, enjoying them, and letting them touch who you are and changing that a little.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh, I love fragrance in my garden too. The Choisya has a lovely subtle fragrance; the one in my photo is about 5 or 6 years old. Usually the bees adore it, but I haven’t seen any bees about yet. 😦 Ah, raising 14 children! Wonderful. Although I write of gardens and the global community, it is within our families that the groundwork for peace and cooperation is laid.

      Reply
  15. beautycalyptique

    this is beyond lovely. everything. the lush garden; the oxford memory. can’t decide what I like the most. maybe the garden (for the colours), or maybe the memory (for the exciting times)?

    my life took a much unexpected and shocking turn when I was 16, just starting planning my life, that I just stuck with the doable things at the moment. I have no particularly great memories, let alone pictures from the age 16 to 17 (I went to the university at 17). this is without sadness really. just the fact.
    so I delight in stories like yours very much 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Some years in life are meh, some are blah and some are downright horrible, but, thankfully, every once in awhile, we get a fantastic year or event. I am so grateful for my year at Oxford and the many happy memories. And I am thankful today that I can share them 🙂 and that you can enjoy them too!

      Reply
      1. beautycalyptique

        very wise. and happy are those who can memorise the happy years before the meh, blah and horrible ones 🙂

        Reply
  16. tiny lessons blog

    Such a wonderful post again! I love the analogy. And I’m happy to say I guessed you correctly from among the many flowers in the Oxford garden. I used to support the work of the British Council when I was in Africa, many young people got wonderful opportunities through their work. And you’re right, your cohort exemplified how the world could be. In peace.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      I am impressed! You guessed me! I am forever grateful to the British Council, not just for that wonderful Oxford year, but for their libraries throughout the world. My first true library experiences as a youngster were thanks to the British Council. “A British Council Grant of 26,000 sterling pounds covered the cost of the building, equipment and 90% of the books. For years the British Council distributed on loan boxes of books throughout Fiji and the service had been appreciated.” I am glad to know that you supported their work in Africa.

      Reply
  17. Tracy Rhynas

    Love your Japanese Maple, so pretty and stylish. And that student photo – what a wonderful ode to 70s hairstyles and suits, fab! Oxford is a lovely town isn’t it, I am sure you had an interesting year.

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Isn’t the photo an ode to the 70s! I wonder if any of us had bright 70s coloured clothes, that day. I don’t remember, except that I did own a gorgeous pair of red leather boots that year. I am not a ‘shopping’ person but I loved the shops in Oxford. Went a bit mad, especially on shoes.

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, I thought the lion was impressive too! I wonder what our hosts would have said if we had uplifted it and adopted it as a class member? That would have been terribly naughty 😉 It might have caused an international incident.

      Reply
  18. YellowCable

    I also like how you led the story with plants in your garden to your time in college and their similarities. The writing about peaceful living together is a great honor to Ghandhi…

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      The maple was planted a few years back and I am so pleased with it. It’s just my sort of tree. It’s rather hard to describe where I am but I am towards the back. And you can only see a bit of my eye. Right hand side of the photo. It looks like I am hiding but I wasn’t really!

      Reply
  19. Just Add Attitude

    What lovely memories to have of your time in Oxford. Would that the world could be like your beautiful garden and the group you were part of during your year at Oxford, and live in peaceful co-existence. #wishfulthinking

    Reply
  20. valeriedavies

    What a lovely post… and what a wonderful experience… yes, I loved Olivia Manning’s books – did you see the television adaption with a young Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh??

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Yes, I did see the television adaptation and enjoyed it. I can’t remember whether I read the books before I saw the programme or after. I do remember though that, when I was on my umpteenth bout of amoebic dysentery in Egypt, I felt I understood perfectly how Harriet Pringle suffered from it! And we had anitbiotics!!!!!

      Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      That corner of the garden, with the deep red, and green and white is one of my favourite places at this time of year. Yes, Happy Birthday Gandhi.

      Reply
  21. cindy knoke

    I am really shocked to hear you sometimes drank too much on your year abroad…..
    My daughter studied abroad for over a year and I know for a fact that she never did.
    I also know that elephants are pink.
    What a wonderful life you are leading ma deah.
    I still want to come for tea~

    Reply
    1. Gallivanta Post author

      Oh Cindy, those were my champagne days!!! And I discovered to my horror, that the lovely plum wine in our favourite pub led to massive headaches.

      Reply
  22. Sheryl

    I like the way you showed the analogous relationship between the diverse plants in your garden and the foreign service program. The foreign service program sounds absolutely wonderful.

    Reply

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