Recently I went on holiday to India to see some fraction of the extended family. Indian families are so large that it is not possible to meet everyone you’re related to in a lifetime. This isn’t because every generation has 10 children, it’s because even your maternal great-grandmother’s daughter’s son’s daughter is considered family – and so needs to be visited.
Most of the extended family are based close to a small (large for the UK) town in Gujarat state. This state is both highly industrial and highly agricultural, the land is unbelievably fertile. The rainfall, soil, sunlight and heat makes it is a very productive area.
It is so fertile that I just couldn’t get over how amazingly lush, green and verdant the landscape is. From seeing road-side drains being dug, the soil is several feet thick, with few stones and rich ochre in colour. It makes the stuff in my borders look utterly lacking by comparison.
Mangoes, sugar cane and rice are the staple crops for the area. There are also bananas, chillies and cucumbers. Indian vegetables, coconuts, guavas and lemon grass are commonly grown on a domestic scale in back yards, the edges of fields and the roadside.
At the time I went, the mangoes had all been picked, the rice was harvested and was being dried and the sugar cane was ready to cut. Apparently, mango season should not be missed. Many varieties of mangoes are grown and there are so many mango trees that you can’t throw a stone for hitting one. Needless to say that it is not advised to park a car underneath a heavily laden mango tree – even if it is providing shade from the heat of the sun.