‘Green Fingers & Hands in Soil’ – In Bahrain Too!

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From time to time, the Captured Moments on M.com home page featured some of the pictures from his garden. Curious to know more about this, especially since he was doing all this in the desert island of Bahrain, the M.com editorial team got in touch with Agnel Pereira, man of many talents and an active team member of M.com, and we got all these pictures (plus a lot of details, without which this report would not have been possible) from his less than 500 Sqft of garden area at his residence in Bahrain in which he is living for the last 6 years.



Agnel Pereira


Agnel had, last year, made our mouths water with the ethnic recipe of pumpkin flower sauce (chutney) and then we saw the pomegranates and the tomatoes on the Captured Moments too. Here, again we are pleased to sneak into his gardening hobby and feature his entire garden with images.


Currently juggling between his office work (he currently works for a local bank in Bahrain engaged in equipment leasing), holding the position of being the Chairman of Bahrain Chapter of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India organizing monthly programs for Indian CAs in Bahrain and several other activities, Agnel spent a few moments to reflect on his gardening hobby and, using another hobby, photography, has provided some exciting pictures of his garden in Bahrain exclusively for the benefit of readers of Mangalorean.com.



The Pereiras


Apart from these two hobbies, Agnel has great interest in writing, cooking, singing and poetry (he has promised us that he will start writing after he frees himself up from his CA Chapter responsibilities!) and language skills (he can also read & write in Kannada and Devnagari script fluently). Beyond all things, Agnel’s passion for cricket remains right on top ? be it playing, watching, coaching and analyzing cricket. And despite all these, Agnel devotes sufficient time for philanthropy and counseling, which stays close to his heart.


Agnel lives in Bahrain for the last 9 years with his ‘partner in success’ wife, Wilma and talented kids, Dean and Alma.



All different views: 1) soft gourd plant climbing up the May-flower tree. 2) a partial view of the coconut sapling. 3) a papaya plant just coming up.



1) Tree full of drumsticks. 2) The journey of the soft gourd plant: through the pomegranate tree  to the terrace!



The bitter gourd plant. The discomforting weather & soil, plus lack of time to feed the plants with plant food may be the reason why some gourds turned yellow before growth.


How did this hobby develop?



This plant is a tropical delight, herbally useful for humans, we call it ‘kasaloon’ in konkani; The yellow leaf is the effect of the summer heat right now.


Agnel says that it’s not much difficult for a person brought up in the green surroundings of Mangalore to catch up gardening as a hobby. The fact that his Mom had a vegetable shop throughout his childhood and that the family was busy farming vegetables even before his birth must have kept that ‘veggi-ness’ in his blood! His Dad was always in the garden whenever he had time and was an inspiration to live with plants. Until college days, Agnel used to try out small things in his small garden space back home (in Urwa Mangalore) trying to grow small flower plants and croutons. “Drawing water from the well using the traditional ways of ‘rope-trick’ and watering the coconut and papaya trees used to be an enjoyable exercise at childhood for us” says Agnel.



What you call it? Sweet cucumber, sweet gourd or some other thing ?(Mogem in Konkani). Though a little late in the season (summer heat has already caught up), the first fruit is delightful.


However, the post college days, or the CA days, took out a large amount of time from him, though not interest. Leaving for Bangalore on employment three years later and accommodation in small flats without any free garden space completely robbed this hobby from him. Seven years later (1997), the move to Bahrain was not expected to be beneficial either with the pre-conceived knowledge that Bahrain is located in a desert region, and being touted as too hot. And anyway, living in a Flat for 3 more years did not help in anyway to resurrect a dying hobby.



Tomatoes?in different colours. Season in Bahrain (without greenhouse protection) is from November to April.



It was in 2000 that the Pereiras moved to their current location. Agnel remembers that the previous tenant had hardly touched the garden space, which was all filled with dry soil and concrete pieces. The only sight of vegetation was a May-flower tree, the drumstick plant and a useless palm tree. From that dry background of September 2000, Agnel took on the effort of adding greenery in extremely adverse weather conditions.


As a hobby, Agnel finds enjoyment experimenting with as many varieties of vegetables and flowers as possible rather than look out for volume of production! But despite this, if he wishes, he can sell drumsticks and tomatoes. His wife Wilma ensures that some of the ‘produce’ is distributed among family friends.



Its all the same plant, but different body for each fruit. This vegetable has mixed features of a cucumber, a snake gourd (‘podwolen’) and the green gourd (‘gosalen’).


Agnel tried recalling all the varieties of plants that he grew in his garden since 2000 and it appeared as if we were seeing a vegetable shop in a market square! First it was the pomegranate plant planted in 2001 which has now given fruit in 3 consecutive years, the next year it was mainly tomatoes, and then gradually Agnel continued to add others in the subsequent years: pumpkin, sweet gourd or sweet cucumber (‘Mogem’ in Konkani), soft gourd, bitter gourd, green chilly, capsicum, green peas, cauliflower, spring onion, mint, coriander and ‘Methi’ plants, beet root, and the Mangalorean spinach (vallche bhaji). There was a banana plant brought from Mangalore while returning from vacation, which survived 3 grueling summers but hardly grew beyond 2 feet!



(left) Soft gourd through the eyes of a pomegranate; (right) & up on the Palm tree


Then one day a friend called Agnel saying that there is a coconut sapling that was brought for a pooja at a Mangalorean hotel in Bahrain, and requested Agnel to plant it in his garden! Agnel duly obliged and today, he proudly feels that this must be one of the very few coconut plants, if any at all, in Bahrain! In a place packed with palms of different kind, its absolutely rare to find a coconut tree. He gets some help from Wilma and also from the watchman of the compound in preparing the ground and watering the garden.


On the flowers side, a rose plant planted in 2001 has survived 4 summers already, plus the jasmines, the ‘dasavaala’ and several different varieties of flowers from the variety of seeds available in the Nursery have ended up in his small, less than 500 Sq ft of garden area. Agnel feels happy to show his prized possessions to visitors and friends, especially those who come during the months from December to May.




It was a mammoth effort to grow chillies and capsicum ? they just wont grow up despite all manuring attempts. It was all an amateurish effort anyway (As Agnel feels, its not easy to understand the manure requirements for this type of soil), so the struggle was expected.


HEALTH UPDATE ON CHILLIES:


Eating chillies regularly could help people get a good night’s sleep and keep their hearts healthy, an Australian university study has found. Researchers at the University of Tasmania spent the past 18 months studying the potential health benefits of chillies on a group of 10 volunteers. Some in the group were given 15 grams of chilli each day, while others did not have any, an associate professor at the school of life sciences, Dominic Geraghty said the results were promising. Chilli consumption may improve your sleep and of course, the quality of your sleep very much also influences your cardiovascular health, he said. Chilli might be a neutro-ceutical, in other words, a naturally occurring agent that we can just take on a daily basis in a small amount and it may actually benefit our cardiovascular health, he said.


On to the flowery side!



Plants are the greatest friends of animals and human beings. They consume what you exhale and provide clean oxygen for you to breathe. The beauty of flowers, the thick vegetation all around makes any tired mind, peaceful. Therefore, says Agnel, its worth spending all the money (for seeds, fertilizers and manure) and time, when in return you get peaceful mind, joy and happiness. Agnel advises everyone who has a little space of free land next to their homes, to pursue this hobby, which has an immense intrinsic value.


Beautiful flowers ? they invite more friends, the wasps and the bees, the sparrows and the butterflies. You need to be ready with the camera all the time, but spending the day time in office, Agnel waits for the weekend to capture some of these ‘guests’.



Last year?s bunch?some of them have been seen on Captured Moments and Subhashai!





Beet root plants



Some fruit just plucked, ready to be cooked ? beet root and tomatoes.
Left: A beet root plant. Agnel states that he thoroughly enjoyed the sight of a beet root plant which he hadn?t seen anytime before, but just picked the seed packet from a Nursery out of curiosity to see whether it grows on the Bahraini soil!



From the last year?s garden?a sight familiar to M.com readers?These are the pumpkin flowers with a baby pumpkin; also a fully grown pumpkin. Strangely, the plant did not grow up this year.




Sprouts of green peas and infancy for the ‘Mogem’ plant



Nice & ‘sweet’ flowers have been an invitation for wasps & the bees. Also, you can see a grass hopper, a perfect camouflage. I haven?t been able to capture a butterfly though, rues Agnel.



This picture was posted on Captured Moments sometime ago. Note the conjoined twins!





What do you call them? Find out and let me know, says Agnel


Two hobbies of a Mangalorean, gardening and photography, are seen here in full bloom. Mangalorean.com is proud to have Agnel Pereira as one of its active team members, contributing different articles from time to time. We wish him all the very best in his efforts and also when he frees up from his CA Chapter work, we will look forward to see more of his talents flowing on this website!


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Author: Team Mangalorean


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