Saturday, October 11, 2014

A tribute to KB Sadananda

"He can be like a kid with kids and like a veteran with veterans.", my friend Ramesh Kikkeri admiringly described during an informal chat.  He was referring to K.B.Sadananda, whom I had not yet heard or seen.  It was probably a dozen years ago.  Now it pains as I write this tribute to Sadananda who left us this month, still 'young' at 72 leaving behind thousands of his admirers, friends, bird-watchers, nature-lovers, well-wishers et al.

When Sadananda spoke something, they were gems, loaded with correct facts!  
Organic farmer Lokesh and Chandrashekar listen to Sadananda.  2009, 'Nesara'.

He frequented an organic produce outlet 'Nesara' at Gita Road, where we also went to buy certain items.  He had retired voluntarily from the University's Botany dept. and was volunteering himself willingly sharing his ocean of knowledge and vast experience with customers and members of Nesara alike.

I guess it was also Ramesh who introduced Sadananda to me at 'Nesara'.  I remember liking him and his manners instantly and how friendly he was and I was soon to learn that our widish age difference was no issue.  Simple, smiling, cool, calm, mild mannered, jovial, came on scooter [and later car], had a fine sense of humour and his words were filled with authority.  I do not think anyone has seen him displaying a frown.

Christening him as Mysore's Salim Ali would be no over-estimation.  He deserved the prefix: 'ornithologist'.  He was in great demand with several groups for his knowledge of botany and birds.  None equaled Sadananda esp. in Mysore.  He was often taken by enthusiasts and organizations on several outings to the forests to identify plants and trees. And because of his whole-hearted willingness to share his knowledge he was a much sought-after person. 

My first visit to his house was to see his rainwater harvesting method which I was to implement. He also gave me a glass of rainwater to drink to feel its unique 'taste'! I copied the idea and still harvest rainwater. He also visited our house once or twice.

In 2005, he took me to the nearby Ramakrishna Vidyashala campus to show the vast variety of flora.  I went to his house and from there he pillioned on my scooter.  I was wearing a gift T-shirt from the Korean Broadcasting System. On the way, he said "Hey, you are wearing my T-shirt!"  It took me a couple of seconds to realize what he meant.  The station's letters were embroidered on the back "KBS", referring to his own initials!

There he showed me a Cork Tree, a rarity.  It was where I also saw the nutmeg plant for the first time.  I stopped at a pond.  Numerous colourful water lilies drew me.  I sat on the edge to photograph a lily with my film camera.  Sadananda was a veteran photographer also.  I was getting ready to shoot.  "Wait a second." he said, took some water and lightly sprinkled on the flower.  "You take the photo now, the droplets will add beauty to the image."  Here are those same droplets and the only picture I took on this little sojourn! 

It did not occur to me to take Sadananda's photograph.  With film cameras, we were sometimes over-choosy on deciding to shoot.

I was into 'ponding' just then and had a pink water lily. In the same month, he took me in his car to the Kumble Farm to see his organic farming methods. The owner Mr.R.G.Kumble [also no more] was also a member at 'Nesara'.  Mrs.Kumble was kind enough to give me her extra plant of the blue water lily, which I still have in my pond.  Here: 

Sadananda had also an indirect role in this water lily. I have also shared many of its little babies with others.

Whenever I had some time and passed by his house I would stop.  And when he was home, he would gladly spend a few minutes and show a few interesting plants in his small yard.  

I spotted a 'mystery' yellow bird in 2009 near our house.  Immediately I called Sadananda and described it.  He was spot on.  I referred Salim Ali's "Book of Indian Birds". There it was, Indian Golden Oriole, a rare visitor to Mysore.  I also wrote a letter to the local paper with his name.

Last year, I needed some seed pans of clay.  I went to him if he knew any clay potter. "Park your scooter there, let's go." he said. He took me in his car through a narrow street in his locality and stopped in front of a house where pots had been stacked.  He seemed to know Sadananda quite well! I bought half a dozen pans for my garden needs.  

The last I met him in normal condition was in early 2014.  I went to his house after a telephone call.  A casual visit.  He gave me a big rhizome of ginger for me to grow as it was extra. The plant is growing nicely.  Picture below.

He also allowed me to dig up a portion of an Aptenia cordifolia succulent which had overgrown.  I cherish this plant with pink flowers.  He was compiling information on Wildflowers of Mysore, making hand drawings of plant details and said he had listed many species.

It was shocking when I heard again from Ramesh that he had suffered a stroke. When he returned from hospital I went to see him.  A thinned Sadananda was on the wheel chair. Despite his condition of not being able to speak clearly and not being able to move his left hand or eat on his own, he had his sense of humour going.  He was teasing his little grandniece and also joked about me and my wife.  Little did I know when we bid goodbye to him it was to be the last.  I used to ask for his health updates at 'Nesara'.  It appears that slowly he had recovered and was able to walk with a help and also speak and also visited Nesara a few times. 

The first person someone consulted for expert views, be it birds or trees, was Sadananda.  He gave several lectures and presentations and he asked nothing in return.  Heritage Trees of Mysore - by KBS

He lived true to his name - Sada [always] Ananda [happy]. And kept others around him also 'ananda'.
His soul may have flown away like a bird, but his deeds and name will remain green forever.  He had opted in his lifetime that his body be donated to a medical institution for study and it was carried out by his kinfolk.  Rest in peace. 

1 comment:

Niranjana R said...

A dear friend of mine too. As you said age difference did not matter. He was exactly 23 years elder to me (I share my birth date with him!) but no matter whatsoever in bonding. He was always young at heart and there was never a dull moment with him around. He would have plenty of authoritative information and jokes to keep everyone in good humour. I had the privilege of his company and his knowledge in a few of my plant research material collection outings. He even drew a wonderful picture for my thesis based on my brief oral sketch which could not have been bettered.
He was not only Sada Ananda but also 'Sat'(as in Sanskrit) Ananda.
He will remain in my conscience forever. May his tribe increase to make this world a better place to live in.
Miss you Sir KBS

Niranjana R