Monday, February 16, 2009

Branch Manager

Everyone Needs A Social Climber (Sometimes)

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


When I was a kid, my parents' garden at 3 Dumayne Avenue in Calcutta (now Kolkata) was full of flowers. There was an amazing variety and the aroma and sea of colours suffused every corner of the huge property we were lucky to live on.

But for some reason I don't think we ever grew orchids, although I remember being aware of the plants. I also seem to recollect seeing them grown in pots at the annual flower show at the Horticultural Gardens.

When I was eleven years old, we travelled to Bangkok and Singapore and I remember the airline staff giving my mother a beautiful pink-and-purple orchid which she proudly pinned to her dress.


At boarding school in St Joseph's College, North Point, Darjeeling, in the foothills of the Himalayas, I was once a member of an authorised group of schoolboys who were given once-a-year permission to trek to nearby Lebong, set up camp overnight and spent about 24 hours examining local flora.

We also had special permission to carefully and responsibly (and what important caveats they were, both then and now) take certain plant specimens back to the school greenhouse.

I was thirteen when our group spotted a splendid orchid high up a tree. Among our number we had basic tree-climbers (me), talented tree-climbers (about ten) and supremely gifted rock-climbers (about three) but not one of us could get to the branch that held the orchid.


After about half an hour a "kancha" (a Nepali word for "little boy") came whistling down the hillside. We looked at each other just like cartoon characters do when they are endowed with sudden inspiration.

Our leader had a quick word with the lad, who would not have been more than about eight years old. He nodded, eager to prove his skill. And when our leader added the inducement of a handful of boiled sweets, the kancha could not have approached his task with more zeal.

In less time than it would take you to read this post, he had climbed the tree, grabbed the orchid, come down safely, accepted his reward and gone whistling on his merry way.


Visit Luiz Santilli Jr for the home of Today's Flowers.

44 comments:

Hilary said...

Beautiful flowers, photos, tale and fun titles. You never fail to get it all right.

CrazyCath said...

Couldn't ya just spit...? Some peeps don't know how agile they are!

Great story - wonderful shots.

Dianne said...

love the story
the flowers are stunning

citizen of the world said...

Those are beautiful flowers, and a great story about the nearly-out-of-reach orchid.

Poutalicious said...

I want to climb a tree for an orchid too. In my mind's eye I'm still the nimble 8-year-old. Beautiful.

TheWritersPorch said...

What a great story and amazing shots to boot! David, I am just in awe of the life you've led ! Did you ever meet Mother Theresa in Calcutta?

Tracie said...

lovely photo!

jinksy said...

I don't know about much about them, but the vibrant colours and elegant shapes of these flowers are more orgasmic than orchid!

Lesley said...

Absolutely gorgeous photographs. I once read a book about the lengths orchid collectors/growers would go to, to acquire new specimens. It was an enthralling book but I can't remember the title now!

Lol, I agree with Jinksy, they are truly seductive flowers. :)

Count Sneaky said...

The Count, who is obviously
a newbie blogger,thanks you for being the first to leave a comment on his humble attempt at blogging. Your comments were appreciated and so welcome. There will be more stories from Soda City, Aristotole and more unique(hopefully)and eccentric nonsense to pass a few happy moments in this too serious world. The Count spent last night celebrating Valentine's
Day with his lovely "Child Bride" of 53 years and some close friends in a small restaurant in this fine city. Thanks, The Count is a friend for life!

A Thousand Clapping Hands said...

Such a visual story. I could picture that lone orchid high in the tree.
I liked your comment yesterday David - (g)love story - Now why didn't I think of that?!!!
Catherine

squawmama said...

Beautiful flowers and beautiful story David... Isn't it great how so many things trigger our memories...

HUGS,
Donna

cheshire wife said...

I bet that story brings back wonderful memories for you. Great photos.

Thank you for the comment that you left on my blog last Thursday. Sorry that I have taken so long to respond. Husband has commandeered my laptop for most of the weekend to run updates and has also installed an email gadget on my side bar. Yes, would be great to catch up if our paths should cross.

Working mum said...

Lovely story.

I had singapore orchids in my wedding bouquet, but I was totally hooked after seeing them in the Botanical Gardens in Singapore, so I loved your pictures. Thank you.

Gaelyn said...

A very nice tale with gorgeous orchids. They always seem so fragile.

Maggie May said...

Beautiful orchids. They will always remind me of my parents (particularly my Dad) as he was an orchid grower and a member of the British Orchid Society.

VALKYRIEN said...

Absolutely gorgeous flowers - and shots of them! And such a nice story you have to follow!

Luiz Santilli Jr said...

Hi David,

Lovely story and wonderful Orchids!
Thanks for sharing!
Hope you have a nice week.

Luiz

RuneE said...

I'll bet you used quite a bit more of your time on getting those orchid pictures than that boy did of his for the "real thing".

Titania said...

Hi David,I love your interesting story story about your "great Orchid hunt". Perhaps our childhood has a big influence on how we perceive nature and to be aware of other living things. The Orchid is beautiful. I always thought of Orchids as very delicate and something I would not attempt to grow. Now, I know most of them are very tough buddies when they have the right condition to grow. I have planted many on my trees and they flourish.

guild-rez said...

Enjoyed your story and pictures!!
Thank you.

guild-rez said...

Enjoyed your story and pictures!!
Beautiful orchids!!
Thank you.

http://eleccionesblancas.blogspot.com/ said...

Por si interesa

http://eleccionesblancas.blogspot.com/

Suzanne said...

Amazing story and beautifully written. You know me. I would rather it had stayed right there, and that from someone who loves and collects orchids!

Thanks for stopping by and for featuring my dear friend Kylie on Blog Of The Day. Lovely. Additionally, congrats on your Blog Of The Month award. What an honor. I'll try to drop by as often as possible, but you know my life is very busy, so I'll do the best I can. Until we meet again, take care. What a beautiful blog and what remarkable friends you have.

XO Suze

P.S. This is my Word Verification: dingdog. That is just stupid funny. I think they're watching us!!!

Helena said...

Beautiful flowers!

(& Darjeeling is my favourite tea, btw!!)

tekmonek said...

Wonderful Orchids and gorgeous photographs

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Wonderful story and beautiful flowers, David. Thanks for sharing both! :-)

Sheila

SweetPeaSurry said...

What a sweet story. Pretty funny that the only one who could reach the orchid was the little boy. Refreshing knowledge that everyone has their place and there's a place for everyone.

Lovely photos.

Kat said...

I love orchids. They are so exotic looking. And the bright colors make me happy. Your pics capture that perfectly.
Wonderful story. :)

Misty Dawn said...

absolutely beautiful! The colors are magnificent.

Denise said...

What lovely memories told from your childhood. Wonderful life story and of course loved the orchids.

...all i can share... said...

The pictures are so lovely. These pictures remind to my grandma who love orchid much. When i was a kid, my grandma used to hang orchid pot on the wall, there were purple, white and pink.

Natalie said...

Great story,David, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank You. :D

Orchids are so delicate looking, but some are surprisingly hardy. I am often neglectful of mine and they just keep flowering.

I left a nomination for post of the day, but I don't know if I put it in the right place or not. Hmm...

Judy said...

I love the colours of these orchids!! And the story! And your poetry!!
Thanks for sharing so generously!

quilly said...

There is an orchid in bloom on our dining room table right now. It was grown in our back yard by OC. We were just out there and noticed new shoots on two of the other plants.

dot said...

A cute story. The orchids are gorgeous!!

DJ Kirkby said...

Very beautiful photos. The story was even better though.

G said...

A tale with a heart.

Mojo said...

That last shot is just pure distilled beauty. Wonderful!

twobarkingdogs said...

Just beautiful!

Susie of Arabia said...

Great shots of the orchids! Lovely, just lovely. Nice accompanying tale too.

The W.O.W. factor said...

Love this post David!
The simple childhood exhuberant pleasures of seeking the most exquisite beauty of them all!

introspection said...

Your photographs always bring joy to the viwer. But the title of the blog 'Branch Manager' is so creative. Kudos to the colours...!!!
I love colours.

Louise said...

What beautiful flowers! Fun story, too. Sometimes your stories from India make me thing of The Far Pavillions.