Monday, 1 July 2013

The Horticultural Gardens: Lepidoptera Philes

The Horticultural Gardens, to my knowledge, are usually not washing rooms. But it seems like people in Calcutta hadn’t got the message. The entrance to the gardens was covered in saris laid out to dry and in the distance, I think I saw people wringing out clothes. Trying to ignore the fact that this garden, despite being a public facility, was being treated like a private one, I walked on, eyes peeled for: you guessed it, butterflies. Despite flowers lining the paths and everything being very green not even the tiniest Lesser Grass Blue was in sight. Just need to get a little inside, I reassured myself, not very convincingly.
 “Come, let’s look at the bonsais!” called my aunt. I followed her like a good little niece. The bonsais weren’t overgrown, which showed evidence of maintenance, or of buying a new one every time it grew too high, and here I saw a couple of lepidoteras darting back and forth. None of which, of course, paid me the courtesy of settling. So impolite! Were they not aware that the Glasswing Butterfly, completely unknown blogger and lepidopteraphile, was passing by?
Emerging out of the little circuit lined with bonsais, my opinion of the garden still wasn’t very high. Sure, there were a lot of flowers. Sure, at least there was a garden. But in my mind, NO GARDEN IS COMPLETE WITHOUT A HEALTHY DOSE OF BUTTERFLIES! Keep that in mind, folks, unless I pay a visit to your garden and blog about it. And also, I just wasn’t getting why there weren’t any butterflies. Not much human interference… check. The place was deserted it, a far cry from Singapore’s botanic gardens. Flowers… check. Maintenance (as in lack thereof, since high maintenance will almost certainly kill caterpillars and cocoons)… huge check. Everything was overgrown. Apart from a few branches tied up, there was no evidence of gardeners at all. It was like we had stepped into the Secret Garden, minus the little robin and all the other birds. Here, all you could here was crows caw-caw-cawing.
Then a miracle happened. A butterfly settled. (Cue heavenly music and trumpets.) I rushed over and snapped. It was new to me, most probably a type of Glassy Tiger, and I was just so overcome with relief that a) butterflies actually settled and b) I could identify one. I turned back to my mother and aunt with a big smile, for the moment forgetting the fact that I was probably in the worst Horticultural Garden in the world.


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