It was a warm, sleepy Bangalore afternoon at Cubbon Park. I was on a lunch break from work. Everybody in the park was happy, mellow and relaxed. Even the icy expression on Aunty Victoria's statue seemed to have thawed a bit in the afternoon breeze.
The sunlight filtering through the treetops made beautiful dappled patterns on the duck pond. It reflected off the oiled heads of a lone couple under a sprawling banyan, and brought the bald pate of a man asleep on a bench, into dramatic focus. A bunch of burqa clad women were busy picking fallen leaves out of their lunch boxes as they sat in a circle, giggling.
The fountain played lazily. Pan-chewing women gardeners picked weeds insouciantly off a mound of of flowering marigolds, salvias and dwarf zinnias around the statue of the Wodeyar. The ornate lion benches bearing the royal emblem had been given a fresh coat of paint. The Vidhana Soudha and it's new found twin loomed up majestically behind a copse of fading pink Tabebuias near the Central Library.
As I turned into the library, I caught something out of the corner of my eye and turned. Nothing quite prepared me for what I was about to see. An ocean of roses. An acre of them at least. Of every colour and shape. Some as big as two palms cupped together. All in bloom, all at once.
I spotted the old favourites that my grandmother had taught me to name: The baby-pink Eterna, the lavender Whiskey, the delightfully fragrant yellow-and-red Double Delight, the blood red Prince Edward. And hundreds of nameless but astoundingly beautiful others. All set off perfectly by the brick red and granite facade of the library. Absolutely breathtaking.
Yup. We're still the garden city alright. Except we've almost forgotten what to do about it.
PS: If you want to see the rose garden live and in full bloom, go NOW. The rose bushes are specially pruned back every winter to get them to bloom all at once, during republic day. Another week more and you might not see as many. Speak nicely to the cross looking caretaker and she'll let you climb over the fence to take close up shots.