I entered the brand new district office building of the horticulture department .Shining white walls and white marble on the floor , it smelled of prosperity and paint . I had been invited by a friend to discuss the advantages of organic farming an issue very close to my heart and hence my quick presence for this meeting .
I was asked to sit in an adjacent room as there seemed to be an urgency in the air , probably a deadline needed to be met . Soon a cup of tea and the eternal krackjack biscuit materialised . I looked towards the face of the old man who got the tea to thank him , and something in his face made me look again .
He had an air of a person who laughed much, because his eyes seemed to make jokes as he looked at me . Then he smiled and rarely have I seen a smile like his .It was a smile of calm wisdom and had that wonderful sunny earthiness that reminded one of better times .
Well i wanted to dwell for a while inside his mind so i provoked him by saying " I think that people take subsidies and dont utilize them properly ".
This really got him started . After discussing dishonest farmers for a while ,I told him that the dry spell had destroyed apple orchards all the over the valley , he agreed and said that his neighbour had a cherry farm and the average weight of the cherries was 35 grammes each and they were special , but this whole wonderful patch of fruit was destroyed by the dry spell .
Then he came close to me and said "Dr sahib do you why it really happened ?" I asked why his reply astounded me .... He said its all because of the birds . I said what ? He said " Do you know that the farmers had the best quality of grapes in the world in kashmir ? And the produce used to be so bountiful that it used to be distributed nationally ."I said that i know it is so . He said " Have you seen any grapes in the market lately ? " I said that i hadnt seen the wonderful seedless variety anywhere . He said " Do you know its all because of the bulbul bird ." I said it must have destroyed the crop . He said " No no thats not so ... its because the bulbul used to feed on the grapes and the farmers covered the grapes with a net according to modern agricultural practices , So the bulbul couldnt feed .And ALLAH took away his bountiful affection because we stopped looking after this little bird ..........