Late November 2016 saw us in Chennai for a workshop on writing science. This was held in the MSSRF building there. The M. S. Swaminathan Research Foundation brings together people interested and engaged in sustainable livelihoods among other things. And, indeed, throughout our brief stay there, we not only interacted with such men and women as part of the workshop but also witnessed the coming and going of others. Each one involved in something thrilling like coastal systems, fisheries or forests.
As for the workshop, you will find more about it here.
This blog post is about the garden in the main Foundation building.
We were told that the garden reflects a classification of lands into 5 categories in ancient Tamil literature dating some 2000 years back. Sangam literature, we were informed, contains references to this phenomenon.
Kurinji or hilly areas, Mullai or forests, Marutham or croplands, Neithal or seashores and Pālai or deserts.
There were even iconic animals for each region: Monkey, elephant, horse and bull for Kurinji, deer for Mullai, water buffalo, freshwater fish for Marutham, crocodile, shark for Neithal and fatigued elephant, tiger, or wolf for Palai.
Tolkappiyam deals with it in detail.
It was indeed very gratifying to see that this foundation has replicated those categories in the small garden that nestles in the heart of the main building!
MSSRF works hard and with youthful vigour, celebrating global initiatives like the Year of Pulses and Pulses Panchayat through the many men and women engaged in implementing and broadcasting its mission.
There is also a Touch and Smell garden for the visually impaired in another part of the complex.
Such keen engagement with the human and geographical environment interface is surely a reflection of aspirations of the Foundation!