The silver oak is a very rare tree. It provides shade to the bushes around it, goes much deeper into the soil with its roots and hence does not take away nutrition from the bushes, while at the same time contributing nutrition to the soil with its litter. In other words, instead of taking nutrition away from the bushes, it contributes nutrition. Noble indeed! The Britishers who planted the tea estates of Munnar in Kerala smartly used the silver oak to keep their tea estates fertilized naturally – they planted silver oak trees intermittently in the tea estates.
Mistletoe, on the other hand, is a plant too! And what does it do? It takes away nutrition meant for its host tree. I wonder at the variety that exists in Nature – the silver oak on the one side, mistletoe on the other!
As I was thus day-dreaming, standing with friends at the corner wada-paav stall near Wadia College after a very inspiring visit to the Tata Central Archives, I was very dramatically and abruptly brought back to my senses by a very intriguing incident.
A thin, undernourished, dark girl in her early teens was at the traffic intersection. Her ragtag clothes, dirty and unkempt, gave away her profession – beggar. Two motorcyclists had stopped for the red light. The girl approached one of these young men, right hand outstretched as if by habit after long years of begging, pleading for something. The young man kept looking at the lights. For him, the girl did not exist at all! It was as if she was both invisible and inaudible to him.
The girl then approached the other young man. He looked at her and pointed in our direction – in the direction of the wada paav stall, and indicated that she should wait there. She understood him, and crossed over to where we were standing, dodging traffic that showed its irritation by way of blaring horns. When the lights turned green, this young man took the U-turn, stopped near the stall, got down, bought some wada paavs, handed them over to the girl, started his bike and went away!
He had no intention of stopping at the stall. He had no intention of eating anything. If he had not seen the girl, he would have probably gone merrily on his way. However, he saw the girl, and so he decided to stop and help her. This was amazing! A sign that goodness still exists in this world, in this country, and in this great city of Pune.
Can we have more silver oaks please?