By Manuwant Choudhary
If life does not surprise you then it means you are spending too much time at home...so in todays world I am different because I like getting old cars repaired, enjoy a cup of tea with my car `mistry' and I also like to walk into shops and not buy.
So in Patna while I got my old car repaired at a garage opposite Kumhrar (the ancient site of Patliputra) I just took a walk and alongside a railway track I came across this nursery...and I asked its owner if he had any Dahlia saplings.
And he blurted out, "Dahlia...haan hai...aisa waisa nahin....mera Dahlia to Taj Mahal jaata hai..."(Yes, I have Dahlia's but not ordinary one's my Dahlia's go to the Taj Mahal...")
I asked him which Taj Mahal does he mean the Taj Mahal Hotel?
And he said, Nahin Agra waala..."
So I joked with him that he must be as famous as the Taj Mahal.
And he smiled back, "Nahin, nahin..main nahin, Taj Mahal famous hai...aure mere Dahlia famous hain."
His name is Mohammed Shafi.
So I decided to make him famous too.
He then took me to the rear of his small nursery and sure enough there were 6000 saplings all named varieties arranged in different colours..ready to be shipped to Agra.
He told me how he started his business as a youth and that he has been supplying Dahlia's to the Taj Mahal for 30 years now.
"Sirf pichle saal...mian contract nahin liya...kyonki wo ghoos maang rahe the..." (Only last year I did not take the contract because the officers were asking for a bribe).
But he said when he visits the Taj Mahal he is treated with respect and put up at a guest house near the Taj Mahal for three days.
Mohammad Shafee buys his sapplings from Calcutta, raises them in Patna and when they are ready takes them by train to Kanpur and then by train to Agra.
I bought 80 Dahlia saplings from him for my home....so if you can't visit the Taj Mahal in Agra to see the Dahlia's in bloom, you are welcome home.