The UN World Tourism Organisation
June Musings
Thou didst create the night,
but I made the lamp
Thou didst create clay,
but I made the cup
Thou didst create the deserts,
mountains and forests,
I produced the orchards,
gardens and groves
It is I who made the glass out
of stone, and it is I who
turn a poison into an antidote

.......................Sir Mohammed Iqbal
The UN delegates pose, after their Walk,
under LalBagh's venerable Silk Cotton Tree
In the Mahabharata, PitaMaha, after creating the world, reposed
under a Shamali tree (Silk cotton tree).
Last week, we had the privilege of hosting, at the behest of the Tourism Department, a walk at Lalbagh for the delegates of United Nations World Tourism Organization. The delegates were part of the World Committee on Tourism Ethics that was having its first meeting in India, right here in Bangalore. With us were also senior management of the Horticulture Department and Tourism Department of the Government of Karnataka and some visitors from the Leela Palace where the delegates were staying. The UN Walkers ranged from Jordan, Turkey, Pakistan, Indonesia and Tunisia to Austria, France, Italy, Poland, Portugal, The Netherlands, Philippines and South Africa.
It was an invigorating morning after a night of light rain. The sun was out, the air cool with a light breeze and the leaves glistened in the sunlight. All the Walkers were enlivened with the discovery of known Trees as well as trees being seen for the first time. It was appropriate that walkers from around the world were seeing worldwide flora planted in this garden. There would of course be trees in Lalbagh which would be common to the trees from all the countries from which the delegates came.
Iqbal says "I produced the orchards, garden and groves" – this surely is best represented at Lalbagh which is built on a dry orchard and planted with an astonishing variety of trees procured from around the globe resulting in a botanical and horticultural wonderland. Sir William Jones, founder of the Asiatic Society, Calcutta, exhorted its members to investigate “whatever is rare in the stupendous fabric of nature". In Lalbagh we see trees representing the "stupendous fabric of nature" drawn from God’s creation – "thou didst create deserts mountains and forests".
The Walk was exhilarating; as always there wasn’t enough time. Carlos Alberto Silva, a delegate from Madeira in Portugal (which has 4 Gardens associated with Funchal) mentioned to me the wide variety of plants they have in Madeira, many brought in by the British - drawing parallels with Lalbagh. He asked me whether we had Jacarandas in India. Well yes, of course.
Dawid de Villers, the Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General, who hails from South Africa, let me know how much he enjoyed the walk and whether I had been to Kirstenbosch Gardens in Cape Town, which I had. He further ventured that he should have met me 20 years earlier. He wouldn’t have gained much from meeting me 20 years ago which is what a professional botanist might say about meeting me today too.

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