Rose Garden 2018

For centuries, roses have inspired love and brought beauty to those who have received them. In fact, the rose’s rich heritage dates back thousands of years.  People have been passionate about roses since the beginning of time.  We have over fifty bushes in our garden.


Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India,  was fond of Red rose. He always wore a Red rose on his jacket until his last breath.


It is said that the floors of Cleopatra’s palace were carpeted with delicate rose petals.  Shakespeare refers to roses more than 50 times throughout his writings. It is also New York’s state flower.


1,000 years old. That’s the age the world’s oldest living rose is thought to be. Today it continues to flourish on the wall of the Hildesheim Cathedral of Germany.


It was in seventeenth century that French explorer Samuel deChamplain brought the first cultivated roses to North America.  Roses are truly ageless. Recently, archaeologists discovered the fossilized remains of wild roses over 40 million years old.


The people of ancient Greece used roses on festive occasions to adorn themselves with garlands of roses, and splash themselves with rose-scented oil.  Napoleon’s wife Josephine so adored roses, she grew more than 250 varieties


The largest rose bloom ever bred was a pink rose measuring approximately 33 inches in diameter, bred by Nikita K. Rulhoksoffski from San Onofre, California.


Red roses are the traditional symbol for love, romance.  It reflects beauty and perfection.  Myth has it that Venus’ son Cupid accidentally shot arrows into the rose garden when a bee stung him, and it was the ‘sting’ of the arrows that caused the roses to grow thorns.  When Venus walked through the garden and pricked her foot on a thorn, it was the droplets of her blood which turned the roses red.


Pink Rose depict gentleness, grace, gladness, joy and sweetness.  It  can also convey happiness, gracefulness and admiration.


Bright, cheerful and joyful are what come to mind when thinking of a yellow rose. Giving yellow roses can tell someone the joy they bring you and the friendship you share.


White roses, the purist of colors, represent innocence, purity and charm. White roses are traditionally used in weddings and can represent new beginnings. We believe that white roses can also express remembrance and innocence.   Why white roses are so special is no mystery – it’s a myth. Perhaps it started with the Romans who believed white roses grew where the tears of Venus fell as she mourned the loss of her beloved Adonis.


Orange roses evoke energy, and enthusiasm, desire and excitement. Giving orange roses can symbolise your passionate romance and share your excitement of the relationship with your loved one.


Love at first sight or just an enchanting way to say, “I love you!” Lavender roses can offer a daily reminder of your love and eagerness to grow your relationship.


Peach-colored rose is gifted when are you grateful for someone or just want to show your appreciation.  It shows appreciation and gratitude or a different way to say “Thank You!”   They symbolise innocence and purity.


Cream roses are indicative of charm and thoughtfulness and goes well with pink ‘thank you’ roses.  Gifting a bunch of cream roses is an ideal way to show someone that you care – but without any romantic intentions.

” How did it happen that their lips came together? How does it happen that birds sing, that snow melts, that the rose unfolds, that the dawn whitens behind the stark shapes of trees on the quivering summit of the hill? A kiss, and all was said.”   Victor Hugo

” What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  William Shakespeare

Peonies – A Symbol of Honour, Fortune, and a Happy Relationship


Peonies are outrageously beautiful in bloom, with lush foliage. They bloom from late May through  June in Toronto.  The flowers last only two weeks.


Their stems are not strong enough to support the heavy blossoms, hence they need support.  Peony cages are placed in spring around the plant as they grow.


Peony is named after Paeon (also spelled Paean), a student of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing.  They are also the 12th anniversary flower – because the peony symbolises honour, fortune, and a happy relationship.. It is the state flower of Indiana.


Peonies are native to China. They are highly valued there, and are often referred to as the “king of flowers”. They were the national flower prior to 1929, when they were replaced by the plum tree. Chinese name for the peony is ‘Sho Yu’ meaning “most beautiful”.


Peonies of three types grow in our garden- Tree Peonies, Herbaceous Peonies and Itoh peonies.


Herbaceous peonies (also known as bush peonies) die to the ground in Winter.  They re-emerge in March, or when the snow melts. Many find that they are deer resistant, but not always. Peonies are long lived, minimal care plants.


Tree peonies are called tree peonies for the woody stems that they have. Tree peonies have woody stems that defoliate in the fall, but the woody stems stay intact, above the ground. They tend to bloom earlier and with larger flowers than the bush peony.


Itoh or Intersectional peonies are a cross between the herbaceous (or bush) peony and the tree peony.  These crosses have produced new, exciting colors.  The plants have the lovely leaf form of the tree peonies, but die to the ground in the Winter.  Since they are recent introductions and are still in short supply they command a high price.


Itoh Peonies derive its name from Japanese horticulturist, Dr. Toichi Itoh, who successfully created seven peony hybrids from a tree peony bred with an herbaceous peony.  Dr. Itoh passed away before ever seeing his creations bloom. Years later, American horticulturist, Louis Smirnow bought some of these original Itoh peonies from Dr. Itoh’s widow and continued Itoh’s work.


Peonies like full sun, and though they can manage with half a day, they bloom best in a sunny spot.  They come in every color except for blue. Pink, and white, are the most popular colours.  Peonies can live upto a hundred years.  In ancient times peonies were believed to relieve headaches and help with asthma.

 

Early Spring Tulips 2018


‘April rains bring in May flowers’ is a common saying in Canada. This year, tulips sprouted as the days warmed up in April, but we had two snowfalls thereafter. Many plants either died or did not grow properly, but we still boast of the best Tulip Garden in Town.


Tulips Originated in Persia and Turkey and were brought to Europe in the 16th century.


Cultivated varieties, referred to as ‘Dutch tulips,’ originated in the Netherlands.


They got their common name from the Turkish word for gauze (with which turbans were wrapped) – reflecting the turban-like appearance of a tulip in full bloom.


Yellow tulips symbolises cheerful thoughts.


The brightly colored, upright flowers may be single or double, and vary in shape from simple cups, bowls, and goblets to more complex forms.


Tulips typically bear cup-shaped flowers in almost every shade but true blue. They can be double or single, fringed or twisted, perfumed or non-scented.


Purple symbolises royalty.


The eleventh wedding anniversary flower is also tulip. It conveys forgiveness.
These are different shades of Red Tulips in our garden. Red tulips are most strongly associated with true love.


Tulips are spring flowers and it arrival signals the coming of a new season. Most tulips have six petals, but some can have many more.


Some of the Tulips are still blooming – may be due to the late setting in of spring.


Red tulips are the hue of choice to express that you are deeply in love. The color red evokes passion and romance.


They are gone in two weeks – and that’s the saddest part.

 

Gardening for Fun & Happiness


‘So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him,  God blessed them and said to them, Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’  (Genesis 1:27, 28)

God gave man the right to rule over everything on earth.  It must not translate into exploitation of nature, but being fruitful.  It is all about the power of creativity that God blessed us humans with.  It exhorts all humans to be part of creation and one of the best way to execute God’s command would be to tend to your garden.  It may be a few indoor pots, a small home-garden or your farm.

May 03 is Garden Meditation Day. This is a day to take some time out for yourself to relax and meditate or the least, visit a garden if you do not own one.  It is the time to get on to hands-on work, like digging in the garden, planting seeds, pruning plants and so on.  It can actually be a form of meditating.

Research has proved that that when we become involved in physical activities that involve creativity, planning, problem-solving, physical labour, it reduces stress, anxiety, and depression.  It can also be a good exercise for weight-loss.  The act of tending to your garden, planting saplings, de-weeding, will always make you feel better and also give you the power to be part of creation and being close to mother nature.

A mere look at your garden or plants can generate a lot of emotional changes which will surely have a positive effect on your blood pressure, heart activity, muscle tension, and neural activity.  It will surely calm your nerves, soothe your emotions and provide lot of happiness.

Today, we have literally taken the God’s word of ‘ruling over the earth.’  Gardening is the best way to ‘go green’ and support mother nature.  A well kept garden, why even a few indoor plants will surely impact the quality of air at your home.  It helps keep the house warm in winters and cool in summers, thus reducing carbon imprint and also save a few bucks.

A vegetable garden in your backyard will provide you with fresh and good quality vegetables.  In case you resort to organic farming – without use of artificial fertilisers and pesticides – you will have a regular bountiful harvest of organic vegetables.

One summer morning, as I was tending to the roses in the garden, an octogenarian stopped his car and came out to compliment me on the excellent garden.  He said “your work has improved the property value of your home by a hundred thousand dollars and your neighbour’s by at least fifty thousand.  I retired from being a real-estate agent for over forty years and this I can vouch for from my experience.”  A garden or a landscaping is an investment for the future.  A well manicured lawn, well kept flowerbeds, well pruned trees – all add ‘curb-appeal’ of your home.  It is a sure shot recipe to sell your home faster.

Gardening and landscaping is truly becoming an art form. Planning, planting and watching your own garden grow can fill you  with satisfaction and pride. Gardening is truly a life-time hobby. The more you learn the more proficient you get and the possibilities become endless.  It is all about taking the first step, getting your hands dirty and your shoes soiled.  As time pass by, you will surely enjoy it – especially post-retirement.

So what’s stopping you from starting your own garden and landscape design or even get some indoor plants?

 

Lieutenant General Rajendra Ramrao Nimbhorkar, PVSM, UYSM, AVSM, SM**, VSM—- A Soldier Par Excellence

As I received a letter from General Nimbhorkar about his impending adieu to the profession of arms on 30 April 2018, after nearly four decades in uniform, I was struck by the thought that I was indeed fortunate to have been associated with one of the finest soldiers and an excellent human being. Our first meeting was in 2002, when I took over command of the Regiment in Rajasthan.  Our Regiment had mobilised as part of the general mobilisation ordered in the wake of the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament (Op PARAKRAM). We were deployed as part of the newly raised 41 Arty Division, and I met then Col Nimbhorkar as the Colonel Administration of the formation during its raising.   There he was, an Infantry Officer, heading the administrative and operational logistics organisation of an Artillery Division.  He introduced himself in his soft and calm voice with a pleasant smile.  I was pretty sure that behind the smile was a smart, intelligent, tough and a chivalrous officer, who knew his beans pretty well, else he would not have been handpicked for the prestigious and difficult appointment.

General Nimbhorkar is a product of Sainik School, Satara (Maharashtra), National Defence Academy (NDA), Indian Military Academy (IMA).  Like most Sainik School graduates, he too came from a humble family background.  He was commissioned to 15 Punjab Regiment in 1979, which he commanded in Kashmir.  He graduated in courses at Defence Service Staff College,  and Higher command courses in India and the National Defence College, Dhaka.

As I look back over my two decades with the Indian Army, I observe that few military leaders are equally well admired by their superiors, subordinates, and peers and the admiration continues far beyond the years of association. The spoken reputation simply cuts across the hierarchical rank and file. I can say without hesitation that Gen RR Nimbhorkar belonged to this select few. There are a number of remarkable military facets about Gen Nimbhorkar. Some of them are worth mentioning.  During his long years with the Army, he was destined to be part of almost every major operation that was launched by the Indian Army. In his younger years up to command of his unit, he has walked on foot almost every inch of the line of control in Jammu and Kashmir. His command assignments at the Unit, Brigade, Division and Corps levels were all in operational areas. To say the least, he was someone who rose to the top through sheer hard core soldiering.

So we knew him as a hard core Infantry soldier. But during his tenure with the Artillery Division, he became a Gunner in letter and spirit and the Gunners accepted him as one of their own. When he spoke about artillery ammunition planning (a nightmare for most Gunners), one wondered whether he was wearing the wrong lanyard and beret! As he rose through the military hierarchy, many of the Gunners continued their association with him and to them he always remained a sort of a benevolent Colonel Commandant.

The most prominent part of his uniform were the rows of ribbons of the medals he had been awarded and they were plenty and they speak a lot about his military career.


Today, he stands tall as the most decorated officer of the Indian Army.  The above ribbons adorn his uniform, over his left chest and he surely holds them close to heart as he deserves much more for all his actions during his military service.  For the benefit of non-military readers, let me explain these ribbons.
1.     United Nations Angola Verification Mission Medal for his service as a Military Observer.
2.     Nine Years Long Service Medal
3.    20 Years Long Service Medal
4.    30 Years Long Service Medal
5.    50th Anniversary of Indian Independence Medal
6.    Videsh Seva Medal for service in a foreign land.
7.    High Altitude Service Medal for serving in areas above 9000 feet altitude.
8.    Samanya Seva Medal awarded for active service
9.    Operation Vijay Medal awarded to all participants of Operation Vijay – better known as Kargil War
10.  Special Services Medal.
11.   Samanya Seva Medal awarded for active service in Eastern Theatre.
12.   Wound Medal or Parakram Padak is awarded to those who sustain wounds as a result of direct enemy action in any type of operations or counter-insurgency actions.  The General was critically wounded while commanding his Battalion during Operation Vijay.
13.   Vishisht Seva Medal (VSM) awarded for distinguished service of an exceptional order.
14.  Sena Medal (SM).  The General was awarded Sena Medal twice(SM**) – once for gallantry as Captain commanding an Infantry  Company in Dras sector and for distinguished service as a Brigadier commanding an Infantry Brigade.
15.    Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM) awarded in recognition for distinguished service of an exceptional order.
16.    Uttam Yudh Seva Medal (UYSM) awarded for a high degree of distinguished services in an operational context of war, conflict, or hostilities.
17.    Param Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM) awarded in recognition for peace-time service of the most exceptional order.

General Nimbhorkar is a great leader, a true and gallant soldier, an outstanding administrator, a voracious reader, and above all a great human being.

My salutes to him from Canada – thousands of miles away -on the eve of his retirement.  I am sure he will remember David Frost’s lines: –
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

(Written in collaboration with Veteran Brigadier Azad Sameer)

Golden Jubilee – 75 Medium Regiment (Basantar River)


Veteran Colonel Joginder Singh, Mrs Kiranjit, Marina and I – we all travelled from Toronto, Canada to Faridkot, Punjab, India – to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the raising of our regiment – 75 Medium Regiment (Basntar River).  A reunion, is a gathering of people who have shared a past, and the joy of reuniting is to see the individuals with whom the past was shared. Here we were reuniting to  share our past, the good old regimental days, with those brave officers and soldiers, who now carry the mantle, history and traditions.

Our Regiment was raised in 1966 at Delhi and was equipped with 130 mm Russian Guns.  It had three batteries – one battery was of Brahmins (other than those from the Southern and Eastern States of India), the second had Jats and the third was manned by the soldiers from the four Southern States.  By the turn of the century, the Regiment was reorganised with soldiers from all over India, from all castes and religions.

The Regiment was awarded Honour Title “BASANTAR RIVER” in recognition of  outstanding contribution by all Officers and soldiers during the 1971 Indo-Par War.  The Regiment provided fire support for the most  famous battle of Zafarwal  in that the two Param Vir Chkra (Highest Gallantry Ward) winners – Second Lieutenant Arun Khetrapal of 17 Poona Horse and Major Hoshiar Singh pf 3 Grenadiers – both were supported by the Regiment’s Observation Post (OP) Officers – Captain SC Sehgal and Captain Mohan Krishnan.  Captain Sehgal was awarded Vir Chakra posthumously for his gallant actions and Capt Mohan Krishnan was awarded Mention-in-Despatches.


As we landed at New Delhi Railway Station – there was an impromptu get-together.  We were met by Veteran Major General PK Ramachandran, Brigadier Madan Sheel Sharma,  Veteran Colonel Ashok Arora  and Veteran Colonel Ranjan Deb.  We were received at Faridkot Railway Station with all the fanfare and were escorted to the Officers’ Mess


With the present team of officers of the Great Regiment – ably commanded by Colonel DR Jadhav – They made the event come alive and memorable.  They surely left no stone unturned to make the event a grand success.


During lunch at the Officers’ Mess, we met Mrs Sneh Thadan, wife of Late Brigadier KN Thadani.  Lieutenant Colonel Thadani commanded our Regiment during the 1971 Indo-Pak war and was awarded Vishisht Seva Medal for his exemplary leadership and planning.  There was Veteran Brigadier MS Brar VSM, SM. He was the Battery Commander with Hudson Horse during Battle of Basantar River of the Indo-Pak conflict of 1971.


Veteran Brigadier AN Suryanarayanan – our Commanding Officer when I joined the Regiment in December 1982 – was there in his smart and erect posture with his signature mustache..


Veteran Colonel Mahaveer Singh – the Commanding Officer under whom I served the longest – 1983 to 1988 was at his cheerful best as expected.


The Stalwarts here – From Left – Veteran Brigadier JPS Ahluvalia (Commanding Officer 1990 -93), – Veteran Brigadier AK Sikka (first Battery Commander under whom I served), – Veteran Brigadier AN Suryanarayanan – Veteran Colonel Mahaveer Sing and – Veteran Brigadier Rajesh Kumar – Adjutant of our Regiment during Indo-Pak War of 1971


There was a Wreath Laying a wreath at the War Memorial of the Regiment, where all veterans and serving soldiers paid their respect to all those who laid down their lives, serving the motherland.  The bust of Captain SC Sehgal, Vir Chakra  and Captain Pratap Singh, Maha Vir Chakra aptly adorned the memorial.

Captain Pratap Singh and I served with the Regiment from 1984 to 1988.   During his deployment in Siachin Glacier in 1988, Capt  Pratap Singh was performing the duties of OP officer at Bana Post, the highest post in the glacier.  On 26 May 1988 he volunteered to cut the ropes tied by the enemy to launch assault on Bana Post and hence prevented its capture.  While he went on to accomplish this task, a booby trap laid by enemy exploded causing severe injuries, yet this brave officer, with cold courage and determination, completed his task before succumbing to injuries. For his outstanding, exemplary and gallant act in the best traditions of Indian Army he was awarded Maha Vir Chakra posthumously.


We presented a Silver Trophy to the Regiment on the occasion – replica of a Bofors Gun the Regiment is currently equipped with.


There were many occasions for us to interact with Veteran Soldiers who served under our command and it I had many a goose bumps as they recounted and reminisced various events, sports competitions, operations, etc.


I was lucky to  meet and interact with Colonel PR Ravikumar and Colonel UV Rao – the smart Young Officers who served with me.  Colonel Ravi commanded our Regiment  and Colonel Rao is commanding a newly raised Medium Regiment.


During the Golden Jubilee party at the Officers’ Mess, Mrs Sneh Thadani cut the cake.


It was indeed a moment of pride for me as I sat down to sign the Visitors’ Book at the Officers Mess as the  table on which I was signing had the phototograph  of Major General BK Guha, Colonel of Regiment.  He was the Senior Subaltern when I joined the Regiment in December 1982.


As I bid goodbye to the Regiment, I spoke to Colonel Jadhav “The Regiment was good –  that is why so many Veterans turned up; the Regiment is good – that is why you could put up such a great show; and the Regiment will surely remain good for the times to come.”  , We all enjoyed every bit of the moments we shared and will ever be etched in our memory.

RIP Wing Commander K Manickavasagam


Squadron Leader K Manickavasagam joined our school – Sainik School Amaravathi Nagar, Tamil Nadu, India as our Headmaster in 1978 while we were in Grade 11.  He bid adieu to the world to be with the God Almighty on 13 April 2018, leaving behind a great legacy – especially for the Cadets of Sainik School Amaravathi Nagar.

He got on to his main task from the day he arrived – to turn us teens into adults.  He was seen everywhere during all activities – from the morning Physical Training (PT) to evening dinner.  We all enjoyed his company, his talks, his motivational anecdotes.  It would not be wrong for me to say that he was instrumental in many of us clearing the Services Selection Board (SSB) Interview and joining the defence forces with Vice Admiral G Ashok Kumar, AVSM, VSM, Deputy Chief of Naval Staff  heading the pack.

The day for us all dawned with PT and there was Squadron Leader R Manickawasagam, out there, running with us and exercising with us.  While we marched from the Cadets’ Mess to the school after breakfast, we saw Squadron Leader Manickavasagam cycling down from his residence to the Academic Block.  Next was the morning assembly.  He called Vijayabhaskaran and me during PT and asked us to deliver a speech during the assembly  on  “Untouchability” for Vijayabhaskaran  “Co-education in Sainik Schools” for me.  Vijayabhaskaran asked “for how long should we speak?”. “As long as you can” came the Headmaster’s reply. As we went back to prepare our speeches, Vijas told me that we should speak for 45 minutes each the least so that everyone goes for the tea-break after the assembly and we all can manage to skip the first three periods of the day. After each speech, Squadron Leader  Manickavasagam spoke for 15 minutes, analysing and assessing our speeches.  He was real serious and meticulous  as he went about all his tasks.

Squadron Leader Manickavasagam appeared to have taken the divine task of molding us teens into leaders and good citizens.  He lead many adventure activities like treks through the Anamalai Wildlife Park located adjacent to our school campus, tracking rabbits in the Small-Arms Range area and so on.

He chaired many of the open-house debates and discussions.  He encouraged us to present our views, right or wrong, confidently.  He shared his experiences and wisdom during these events.  He encouraged all of us to be creative by participating in various extra-curricular activity clubs.  He conducted General Knowledge classes for us in the evenings wherein we could discuss anything and everything under the sun.

He was often seen cheering us from the sidelines when we competed in various Inter-house sports events with all our spirits, heart and soul – whether it was the boxing, athletics, football, hockey, volleyball or basketball.

Squadron Leader  Manickavasagam always had positive words of encouragement for us – even while we goofed it up.  He did mete out punishments for us, keeping in mind our age and exuberance.  Once he made Vijayabhaskaran and I to apologise in front of the Morning Assembly – it was too less a punishment for the mischief we did.  Looking back, had the intended punishment of withdrawal from school was awarded to us – we would not have achieved what we have today for sure.

RIP Squadron Leader K Manickavasagam.  You had the vibes of all of the students. An Officer and a thorough Gentleman to the core – someone we all would love to emulate.