Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The ol' Tree House

Ze fine print: is not working as Blogger refuses to go into compose mode! So I am absolved muahahahaa! Offers to teach me HTML are hereby refused.

Reading about the Taj Mahal Hotel and the significance of some buildings to people, I am reminded of an edifice that is as venerable and as beloved to me and my friends, as the Taj Mahal Hotel is to the rich and famous err I mean ordinary Indians. The edifice that I am talking about is the Tree House our Dad fashioned out of a plywood carton for us when we were small. It has given me and my friends’ hours of cramped pleasure and played host to several of our tea parties, snack-ins, sulk-ins, cry-ins, sleep-ins, sneak-ins to read comics etc etc. The building has lost some of its former glory…correction, most of its former glory actually….okay to be completely truthful it has lost all its glory and plywood to the ravages of time and a determined little girl and her friends and several attempts by my ammachi to pull it down and take it to Kerala to serve as a kozhikoodu (chicken coup).

All that is left of the structure is a few planks that were the floor at one time and a few planks that made up the walls and the roof. I have some lovely memories attached to the tree house. My dogs have some horrible err nice memories attached to the tree house. I remember how my doggies would cringe the moment I said ‘tree house’ and would run away and hide. It gave me great pleasure to chase them and drag them out of their hiding places and haul them up whining, to the tree house. Those were the days…sigh.

There was this time that a bunch of honey bees took over the tree house. My Dad announced that we could not use the tree house till the present tenants had vacated. This made me mad and my second bro M madder. This meant that me and my friends would come in the way of his silly games instead of sitting safely out of earshot in the tree house. So he and his friends decided to smoke out the bees like they had seen the local bee keepers do. They piled up some dry twigs and grass and stuff under the tree house and set it on fire. The entire house burnt down. But the tree house and its occupants remained unfazed. Later in the day, as my parents collected what they could from the charred remains of the house, he i.e my brother was heard remarking to his friend that they should have considered wind direction before lighting the fire. His friends reply was lost in the wind as he fled at top speed with my enraged Dad in hot pursuit.

The tree house was fashioned out of the plywood carton that housed the washing machine my Dad had bought down from the Middle East. It was a roomy carton you know, the type that can house a washing machine, a fridge, a car, six double cots, three televisions, a dining table set, a sofa set, several wall to wall cupboards, two blenders, several tonnes of books, crockery, furnishings and a huge barbecue set and still look like it was carrying only a Washing Machine. The Customs never suspected a thing and waved my Dad on. We furnished an entire house when it was unpacked and even now, there are chances that you may find a Two in One or a Rotisserie Grill or a Casio if you look carefully in between the plywood boards. The other day my little cousin brother found a toaster. It was still in good condition and working. We shook our heads in amazement and promptly threw it in the dustbin.

After the evacuation of the carton which took roughly two months and six pairs of hired hands, the carpenter resized the sides, redid the floor with sturdier wood and added a roof to make it look like a house. The door on each side was a gap made by removing a couple of planks of plywood and viola…our tree house was ready. The tree house was housed on the forking branches of a horribly deformed Banyan tree that grew in every possible direction but up, leaving us with lots of low hanging sit-able branches. It could seat four little girls and two dogs at a time. Guests sat on the branches and depending on who were very nice to me, they would actually get an invite to sit inside the tree house. We had lots of doll parties there and later as we grew older we simply sat around on the branches and talked about the latest fashion, guys, expensive cosmetics, guys, orthodox parents, guys, designer shoes, guys, strict Nuns, guys, tough exams, guys, stupid teacher, guys and so on.

Those were wonderful days and the tree house reminds me of carefree times when our greatest worry was a honeybee attack and an AK 47 was a couple of alphabets and numerals. Pakistan was the nation to the upper left of India not to be confused with Iran a nation we were told we would not be studying due to lack of time to finish the Geography portions. We heaved a sigh of relief. That was one capital, one flag, many crops, many more minerals, several industries, types of agricultural produce, major ports and cities, GNP, type of government, national religion, language and sport…less to cram. Whew!! Besides we did not have to by heart the names of its neighbors too. Whatay relief!!!!

Today the Tree House is a remnant of its old self. Its splintering edifice is hidden by the overgrowth. The banyan tree has since learnt that it is a tree and not a creeper and has grown in stature and girth. The sit-able branches are now not so sit-table unless we hire a really tall ladder and an exterminator to rid the tree of its entire insect eco system. According to the gardener it looks like a bhoot bangla on a Banyan tree. He finds that mighty funny and cracks up every time the old plywood of the tree house creaks in the wind! The maid in the house thinks it is not a good omen to keep a Tree House on a Banyan tree. According to her no self respecting ghost will like to be seen alive in it. I have since hammered a couple of more nails to ensure that it stays on the tree. My bedroom overlooks the Banyan tree you see. Besides you do not want any peeping tom-ghosts peering through your window do you? brrr

The other day an incident made us decide that the tree house remains no matter what the neighbor or the maid or the gardener says. It so happened that my Dad’s old enemy, the forest department wallah came a visiting to check on the trees in the house. He drops in randomly whenever he feels like irritating my Dad.

Now if you are wondering what the Forest Dept (FD) has to do with our trees, think again. Every tree you plant outside or close to your premises it automatically becomes the property of the FD. It doesn’t matter if they cannot distinguish a Jackfruit tree from a lamp post. It is still theirs! I suspect they wait till you have bought the seedling, planted it, watered it, fought off pests and tree disease, firewood gatherers, tree robbers etc etc and then, sneak up behind the bushes where I guess they were hiding and watching, and plant a seal on the tree and say “Viola the tree is now OURS hah!!!” And right after that you live in mortal fear. You inspect the tree every day. If it shows any sign of dying, you pack up your bags and migrate, cos the FD is gonna get you and put you in the slammer for damaging a tree that is protected under the rule 456, section C, sub section 1A on page 4567899234 of “The Karnataka Forest Department Rule Book”. (The 900th Edition of the book is on the way with reportedly 5567899234 pages covering the Jackfruit tree alone.)

Now my dad and the FD have a love hate relationship spanning a few decades, several litigations and notices, suites and counter suites.

Court Clerk: Mr P you are hereby directed to appear before the Lower Magistrate for cutting down a Tectona grandis.
Dad: Tectona grandis? What on earth is that!!!
Clerk: A Teak tree!
Dad: But I don’t have a Teak tree!!
Clerk: Oops then I think it must be a Santalum album!
Dad: And what on earth is that!
Clerk: Sandalwood tree
Dad: I don’t have that either!
Clerk: hmm how about Punica granatum, Pomegranate?
Dad: No!
Clerk: Saraca asoca, Ashoka tree?
Dad: #$!%@&*%!!!
Clerk: Okay okay I am going!! Some people are so crabby! Tch tch

Now as the Forest Department wallah walked around inspecting the trees with a I-am-gonna-get-you-air, the old tree house creaked. Forest Department wallah turned a few shades grey and nearly jumped out of his skin. It was late evening you see. The wind blew again and this time good old tree house let out an even longer creak! Forest Department wallah suddenly remembered that he had something urgent to do and scooted out of the house at top speed. He was never seen again.

Nowadays the FD minions skip our house in their rounds. They are definitely not coming to a house with a creepy and creaking Banyan tree that rumor has it is infested with ghosts (origin of rumor err not known). Even a die hard Forest Department wallah will not go near a tree infested with ghosts. The government isn’t paying him enough to do that you see. Suffice to say that peace has returned to our front yard, back yard and other places where we have planted trees. And all because of our good ol Tree House!

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year 2009!!


skar said...

ROFL@your house setting on fire because of not considering wind direction :))

Merry Christmas to you! New Year wishes I'll put on the next post! (hint hint)

Me, my bro. and a friend would climb a dense set of eucalyptus trees that were near our locality for a brief time. No house was built but we used old planks and ropes to form connections across trees, i.e. tree bridges kinda things, and used to go up really high on these trees and sit up there and chill. That lasted only about a year though due to circumstances.

Deepti said...

childhood and its sweet memories .. The tree house took me back to my Enid Blyton days :)

Merry Christmas and a very happy new year to you too :) ( do think of me when ur stuffing yourself with cake ;) )

Dhanya said...

LOL it was a nice read n u r lucky to have an own tree house that can host ghosts err guests.. ;)

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you too :)

Anonymous said...

Happy new year and merry xmas a li'l too early?? Does that mean u dont plan to write till 2009?

ROTFL as usual :)

Anonymous said...

"no self respecting ghost will like to be seen alive in it"

lines like that are the reason i keep coming back to your blog. and you never disappoint me :P

childhood was so much fun, no?

--xh-- said...

for me, it was a branch on the mango tree behind our kitchen, and then a guvava tree.

merry Christmas and happy new year :)

Sparkling said...

Where in heavens do you live to have a place like this?
Please accept it and accept it now! You're one lucky gurl to have a tree house et al ya. I'm glad for you that ghosts do have some self-respect :D

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year dear.

Anonymous said...

Good post. U're lucky with the forest department. It's only trees after all. We had a coffee estate on the Kerala Karnataka border which we sold earlier this year and trees were the last thing that we were worried of when we saw these guys. Horror stories really but now that all this is in the past, my friends and I often have a good laugh about all this with a drink in hand. Some of these stories are better than tghe greatest bloopers I've ever done and I've done quite a few in my days :-). You did touch a nerve with me though on this one....

_ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mind Curry said...

several attempts by my ammachi to pull it down and take it to Kerala to serve as a kozhikoodu
lol..that was too funny..and oh yeah..i have had the FD wallahs spring at our house and usurping a couple of our trees. i never could figure out the logic..but now i know..rule 456, section C, sub section 1A on page 4567899234 right?

Twism said...

"It was a roomy carton you know"
Growing up in the land of roomy cartons, we had more than our share of cartons, but was at a slight disadvantage in the botanical front :)
Which we compensated by building carton forts!!
Merry christmas and a happy new year to u too!
p.s. Been a longtime reader but didnt get around to commenting!!

silverine said...

Karthik: Thank you for the wishes. You will have to wait for New year for the new post! (hint hint) :p Sitting on a trees is one of the greatest delights of life I agree!

Deepti: Thank you! I was in fact inspired by Enid Blyton to ask my Dad for the tree house! :)

Dhanya: Thank you! Well it was just a box on a tree! :))

Sandeep: The holiday spirit has made me lazy so I guess the next post will be next year! :)

Rukmani: Thank you dear! :)

--xh--: Whatever the tree as long as it has sturdy branches to sit, it is a treat! :)

Still thinking: I live in the outskirts of Bangalore. It is a agrarian area and so untouched by land conversion! So we have more space around our house than the average Bangalorean! :) And yes, I admit I was lucky! :)

Browser: Nice to see another fellow sufferer! Wish you had recounted some of the bloopers here! :)

RM: And to you too!! :)

MC: Right! But that is just one section! :|
lol!! I guess they usurped the tree for some ministers new house construction! :p

aLTeR eRGo: I guess you lived in the Middle East like my Dad. That carton was part of TR. So I understand! Thanks for dropping by and Seasons Greetings to you too! :)

Sreejith Panickar said...

Lovely Silv! :D :D

Merry Xmas and Happy New Year! Have a great year with loads of funny posts, and of course serious ones on the thinkpad.

Philip said...

You mean you have a banyan tree next to your house? And you say this aforementioned house is in the city of Bangalore. Unbelievable! At least not in the
Bangalore I know.

Wanderlust said...

Very charming post which takes you back to those old days when life was a lot simpler and peace was not just a word in the dictionary.
Merry Christmas to you and your family..

Sampige said...

Do you like visitors Silverine ;-) heh heh heh. You know just to make sure that the aforementioned ghost is really a friendly one ;-) I can come and take a look with my teenage sons :-) who have never ever climbed a tree! A banyan tree at that. Sigh!!! May more ghosts come your tree's way and may it be saved for a long long time.

Anonymous said...

Hey, now get ready for the Tax Man. The forest guy is sure, reporting this to the Income and House tax for building such a magnificent house and renting it to the ghosts. Even if you plead you have rented it for a song (the shrill, freaky kind…) they are not going to buy it. You are in big trouble!

mathew said...

what a sweet post...really took me back in time....oh i wish we had the snap of the real one...maybe it will be an inspiration for others to build one..;-P

Anonymous said...

You're never going to be absolved, Anjs...

Merry Christmas to you. Hold on for the NY greet.

Adorable Pancreas said...

You have a great Christmas too! Oh, and a nice 2009.

phoenix said...

So funny…^^ I really enjoyed myself reading this post…great blog too...it’s totally different from any other blog!

Pramod Abraham said...

Surprise How come there is no "oonjal" on this tree.

Anonymous said...

Reminds me of Calvin and GROSS - I am glad you still haven't figured out that the fire was a smokescreen (confused pun?) and your brother was just carrying out his fraternal responsibilities of driving lil sis mad, by burning it down.

Whatay relief, indeed! ;-) I remember these and &^$$$# sobriquets too...
Teacher: Venice of the east...you - GT?
GT (looks up from tiffin box): Er...Thailand!
Teacher: No, nonsense fellow...its an Indian city!
GT: (Thinks big capital city) Maybe... Delhi!
Teacher: No - go rotate the playground 4 times and come.

GT went and never came back...much fun happened.

Anonymous said...

Wowwwwww!!!!!!!!1 u r among those luckiest souls to have a tree house, i can only dream abt it.
Near to my grandpa's house there was a banyan tree with a huge hole on oneside, most of my childhood days in his home used to b in ther... nw i am remembering those dayz whn i saw ur post......
Merry x-mas and happy new year :)

Manu said...

Ok,.. I've only started reading you blog recently, but I am getting more and more attracted to your writing. Damn!! You got talent girl...

Happy Xmas and new year to you too.. :)

DTox said...

Lucky you..to have a tree house atop a big banyan tree :)..

Came across ur blog some days back n have been hooked ever since...
Your posts are indeed the best way to kill time in office and brings back sweet memories of splendid Kerala. Kudos to you.

Here's wishing you a merry X'mas and a happy new year.

Oh, and this is my first comment here!

Anonymous said...

"The 900th Edition of the book is on the way with reportedly 5567899234 pages covering the Jackfruit tree alone."

ha ha!! I wonder how many tress they cut down to make that edition! :-))

Sriram said...

Another blog post after a long time.. thanks!
And wish you a beerry merry Christmass :)

silverine said...

Sreejith: Thank you dear and wish you the same!:)

Philip: err Bangalore is full of trees even now! :)

Wanderlust: Very true and wishing you loads of good times this New Year and lots of posts for us too!! :)

Sampige: Your kids are missing a lot! The Banyan tree is the easiest to climb :) And as long as the ghosts are imaginary I don't mind them residing on the tree :p

srideviR: LOL! I would not be surprised if I get raided by the Tax men!

Mathew; Thank you! Hope you are having a blast in gods own country! Reg a picture, even if I had one I would not put it up as our tree house looked nothing like the pictures of the ones I saw on the Internet :p Ours looks like a dabba trying desperately to pass itself off as a tree house and failing miserably! LOL!

Hammy: Thanks dear. Hope you have a nice Xmas, cos it will probably will be your last as a bachelor! ;)

AP: Thank you dear. Wish you the same!:)

Manoj: Thanks buddy! :)

Pramod: It's branches are low lying thats why!

GT: LOL!! That sounded sooo familiar!

devil Incarnate; Well...out tree house was just dabba on a tree. Not the type you see abroad by any stretch of the imagination. But then it was the best tree house in our eyes! :)

Manu: Thank you! :)

d-tox: Welcome to my blog and thanks for the kind words! :)

Rahul: he he I am glad someone noticed that! :))

Sriram: Yeah, am in the grip of the holiday mood. So in no mood to blog! :) Hopefully will be back to regular blogging soon! Seasons greetings to you too dear!

Amrutha said...

You have been award. Check it out here

Anonymous said...

Below the belt, Anjs...

Tut tut...


Adorable Pancreas said...

You have another an award. Please do accept. :)

And Merry Christmas!

Anonymous said...

Merry Xmas, girl!

silverine said...

Amrutha: Thank you so much!!! Honored!:)

Hammy: *muAhAHAHAHA* The pleasure was all mine! :p

AP: Thank you so much! Coming there in a jiffy to accept. Sorry for the late reply. Just got back to Blr.

GT: Thank GT! Hope you had a blast and give a hug to karrups from my side! :)