The Neighbor’s Garden

Compared to our stint in Bhimtal last year, this year’s stay is going much better so far. For one, this time we came prepared for a long stay, at least a month. Last year, we had come for ten days and stayed on for five months because of the lockdown. The second and more important improvement is that we now have a friend staying over in a neighboring house. We meet once in 2-3 days for tea/coffee or a chat and that makes all the difference.

Bhimtal is coming up as a staycation or remote home-office site. It strikes the right balance as is not as crowded as neighboring Nainital, but not so remote as to lack the basic infrastructure required for a temporary home office. Internet is fairly decent, and mobile connections are not as patchy as in say Mukteshwar, which is further up in the remoteness scale. In addition, many furnished flats and cottages are available in Bhimtal at a reasonable rent.

Our friend and his wife have rented a cottage nearby for a year. The cottage has a nice courtyard with lake view and a big garden. Though currently overrun with weeds, the garden is a huge attraction for my mom, who misses the garden she left behind in Kerala. Mom can spend hours in a garden, observing new leaves sprouting, checking whether a fruit has grown in size since the previous day, counting the plants from which she can take cuttings when we return, and so on.

Some pics from our neighbor and friend’s garden.

My friend’s wife is an environmental conservationist. Two months back she had prepared good quality mulch for the gardens from kitchen waste, dead leaves etc and spread it all round the garden. They also dug a trench to divert rainwater from the house and into the gardens to prevent seepage from accumulated rainwater.

My friend’s wife energetically pruning weeds in the garden

Unfortunately, the cottage owner doesn’t quite appreciate the efforts they are putting in. City dwellers taking what he sees as ‘undue’ interest in his land probably seems suspicious to him.

My friend and his wife are now restricting themselves to reusing empty milk pouches to grow saplings.

Copyright © 2023


Published by Leena T Pandey

I have been reading voraciously since the age of five when I first discovered the joys of reading. I would lap up anything in print. Unrolling an emptied newspaper cone with one hand, stuffing roasted peanuts in my mouth with the other, all the while devouring the printed content on the cone with my eyes, was one of my first experiences in hedonistic pleasure. In fact, sometimes I feel that I am on an adventurous journey through the secret dreamworld of other people's imaginations, interspersed with occasional visits to my own life to attend events like graduation, first job, marriage, and so on. As a true-blue reader, I think I am uniquely qualified to comment on and critique other people's works of labour. I can tell exactly what puts the average reader to sleep, what sets their pulse racing, and what has them salivating for more. Write to me at

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