Over the last seven years we have put up daily updates on our Facebook page and documented the happenings at Vriksha Nursery. On our 37th birthday I'd like to tell you guys about our roots.
He started producing plants by cuttings and basic grafting techniques which he read about in second hand books that he purchased from raddiwalas. Within a few months he made a formidable stock of plants and became a go to wholesaler in Mumbai. His name became synonymous with plants like Lantana, Agloenoemas and Durantas. Soon the toil paid off and he landed a lucrative job for Thomas Cook India to landscape their head office. From there he never looked back.
Dad started working on massive projects like when he planted large avenue trees outside the domestic airport and landscaped projects for Hindustan Lever to name a few. A couple of years later he married the love of his life in true filmy style. And the wheels of Vriksha kept moving.
An unfortunate family incident got this momentum to a grinding halt. The contracts dried up so did
Now this is a part where my dad made a deal with the devil ! A family member offered to invest money and my dad would give him a chunk of the profit. The idea was to create 'India's first one stop garden mall'. Vriksha's then sister concern was born. Dad finally had the capital and he left no stone unturned. I once saw him carry 30 cans of paint from Mumbai on a bike all the way to Panvel, I've seen him sit in a truck and travel cause he dint want any confusion.
When dad was busy with this project mom took over Vriksha. She learned Ikebana from the Sogetsu school and gave the nursery a whole new wing - Flowers. Vriksha provided ideas, jobs, plants, money, handwork and literally blood, sweat and tears. And one fateful day the bubble burst ! Forgery, deception and outright cheating ensued and everything that my father worked for went up in smoke. I saw my dad break down. (This Nursery still exists. won't name them ,won't shame them but Karma is a bitch)
Something about this line struck a cord with dad and from the ashes like a phoenix he rose. The very next day he sat on this red bike he had and started meeting old friends, acquaintances and associates and soon enough something clicked. A local MLA who dad went to school with let him work on a small public garden in the area. Within 6 months dad was all over the place doing what he did best. He was working with all the major MPs, MLA, agencies like BMC, MHADA and was setting up public gardens across the length and breath of Mumbai that exist even today. At that time I was an 18 year old fresh out of JR college happy to drive him to his meetings. Somewhere on running his errands I realised this was all I wanted to do, Vriksha became my dream too.
We lost him suddenly, way before his time. Financially things were tough again, Suddenly we had court cases, people harassing us to shut down Vriksha. Most people thought and hoped we would shut shop, sell the space and move abroad. But we weren't going to let his dream fizzle out so easily. They tried to bury us, little did they know we were seeds !!
I moved back from the UK, started this very blog, typed every word on our Facebook page, work diligently and honestly and with each passing day we try our hardest to live up to the green legacy he left behind...And as I always say "We are only just getting started !!"
Vriksha today has 65 workers. We manage more than 90 garden spaces in Mumbai. Have set up gardens all across India. Our blog has more than 1,00,0000 views and we have over 32,000 people on our Facebook page .