27 November, 2020

Berry Berry Sweet

The hills are the perfect place to go looking for wild and exotic flora

Berry Berry Sweet
outlookindia.com
2019-04-19T11:32:22+05:30

I’ve been sorting my stack of hill books, and browsing—an unavoidable aspect of sorting—through those old favourites, The Snow Leopard and The Valley of Flowers. The first few pages of a book by Frank Smythe mentions the town where I live: “On June 1st I arrived at Ranikhet from Naini Tal...”

My copy of The Valley of Flowers was annotated in the margins by its previous reader, a half-Hungarian woman who spent the last years of her life in Ran­ikhet. Her notes have little to do with Smythe’s thoughts on solitude, freedom, nature or his contemplative prose. “Remember to take napkins for cleaning dishes,” says a scribble next to a paragraph about the cook wiping dishes on his shirt. Mosquito nets and ration lists are marked up, as are places where swathes of primulas and gentians had been sighted. I noticed that both Peter Matthiessen and Frank Smythe, during their walks in Nepal, came upon bushes of kilmora, a wild berry that is all over Ranikhet in the hot months. The writers call it by its Latin...

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