Spotlight: Dinakar Konanur (Dinu)

By Nancy Polanski (nap) on June 7, 2010

Dinu is everyone's friend. He is a longtime fixture at Dave's Garden, a prolific writer and an accomplished photographer. He has just about the loveliest garden in Mysore, his hometown in India. And I have invited him to be the subject of our next interview.

To many of you, Dinu is a familiar name.  His garden and his friendly, personable manner have long been a staple on Dave's Garden.  His stories and photos of India have charmed me, and I wanted to know more about this man.  I hoped to find something new, some little stories as yet untold, some insight into Indian life.  So I asked him to spend a moment in our Spotlight.


Q. Dinu, so many of us are familiar with your writings and photos from Dave's Garden, but I would like to spend a minute or two discussing your background for those who may be meeting you for the first time. So please tell us about yourself.

Dinu: I work as an office assistant in a renown food research Institute in Mysore, India, since 28 years. It is a former palace, so I am lucky to be in the same mansion as when I joined. I must tell you that I got the job because my father died while in service in the same Institute and the Government offered me this as per the rules. Had I finished my Business Management degree at that time, I would have been put in a much higher position. But I am happy and contented with what I have. Though I really cannot imagine what I'd have done, given my personality, wi2010-06-03/nap/0a3abfth  that degree!

  Our mother tongue is Kannada (or Kanarese, an age old Indian language), but I studied in an English Convent School. I'm a much poorer speaker than what you can gauge from my writing. I tend to spend my energies 'doing things' rather than talking! LOL.

Q. I know you have interests in the areas of Homeopathy, Cricket and Engineering, among others. Share your thoughts with us.

 Dinu: Homeopathy is a much misinterpreted subject. But I do know, from my own self experiments, that it is the one that is going to survive all odds. Only those who know it fully,  will  know how beautiful it is and how smoothly it works on our human constitution. And even on our pets. It is based on natural laws. We do not condemn other systems, but believe that all systems of medicine are only di2010-06-03/nap/a8b093fferent pages of the same book. Allopathy is also important at a certain stage. It has the ability to give quick relief.   (Please refer to Dinu's blog on Homeopathy)

Cricket is of course a great game,which I enjoy playing even now, at my age - thirty one2010-06-03/nap/f4ae7d years on the trot now. It is difficult for people on the wrong side of 40 (and stretch that to 50), but perhaps my passion is making it possible. I play for the Mysore Gymkhana, which is one of the oldest teams in our State and the team my grandfather was a member of too. We are preparing for its Platinum Jubilee next year.

My mind is a technical one. I wanted to be an Engineer, but never realized I have to score well in the exams to procure a seat in the Engineering College. I spent my days playing cricket in the streets and never focused on my studies. When a pen was bought, the first thing I did was open it up to see how the parts worked and how they are fitted. When a watc2010-06-03/nap/7ff60ah came to me, I wanted to know how it ticked. I later learned watch repairing, but only after spoiling that one due to careless handling. I used to repair my bicycle after observing the mechanic near my home.

I love woodworking, but lack of time prevents me from doing anything worthwhile, though I have made a few little things from waste wood. I love trash-to-treasure projects. “Recycle, reuse, convert and generate less waste” is my motto. I have simple tools and enjoy doing most things myself, being my own handyman. There are 2 or 3 favorite tools I like to use for most things. ( In fact, a cartoon serial comes on our TV on Sundays - the tools talk and do work; they help their owners..... it's a nice program for children.) I used to do painting, but now it is the turn for my daughters.

I was an *official monitor* for Radio Korea for about 16 years till a few years ago when the enthusiasm for the hobby of radio listening waned an2010-06-03/nap/9d3e18d other priorities took over and also many stations came on the Web. I also stopped playing tennis because I no longer found enjoyment in playing it, though I still love the game. And after that I found more time to spend in "My Eden"!

Q. Oh yes!  Your garden!  It must be the loveliest garden in the neighborhood.

Dinu:  It does not look so colorful, but the time I spend digging in the earth, making my hands soiled - I love when a telephone call comes and my wife calls me, and I have to rush in after washing my hands - I love to say I've been digging earth, sorry for the delay responding to the call... Uh! 

I've put in a bird bath and all of us have begun to enjoy the birds taking a dip and cooling themselves.  It's been fun.

Not all are really fortunate enough to have space for a garden. To make the hands dirty with mud in the garden is a wonderful thing that not all are blessed with! To me, gardening is one of the holi2010-06-03/nap/edc91aest and most sacred of hobbies one can pursue. It is worth every minute you spend digging, cleaning, nurturing, pruning, watering, or even sitting amongst the plants out there in a garden which we can call our own. 

I grew up seeing how my grandmother used to dig a bit and water the plants with a hosepipe. There was gushing water supply in those days which never went dry, like it does now. My mother always used to ask me to plant any new saplings or seeds someone gave us when I was young because she said "what he plants and sows grows nicely". Long later when I got acquainted with some garden terms, I knew what a 'green thumb' was. My mother had recognized that quality when I was in my teens.  

I can remember the thrill I got from growing my own plant from seed (it was actually a cosmos). I grew some beans and marigolds also with the help of my m2010-06-03/nap/6ccf0bother. Gardening has been such a great pleasure for me in my life and my garden. "Dinu's Garden" became a favorite retreat spot, to sip my cup of coffee - sometimes breakfast too - beside my pond or under a tree. "Dinu's Eden" is what I chose to engrave on an old rustic wooden plank to give that vintage touch.

All the ideas, the enthusiasm, have all come from one (and only one) gardening website that I visit. It has helped me learn new things and make new friends. I must not fail to acknowledge the Garden Angels, as they're called, who have been guiding me all the way through. Only because of them could I have a camera and a computer through which I have pleasure in sharing pictures right from my home. I am much indebted for all that has come my way since Y2K.

Q. What do people remark about your garden when they see it for the first time?

Dinu:  Visitors see some unattended spots and they see some neat ones.  I like some wild growth, and the dry leaves that go into a heap and decompose (my manure - I'm an organic gardener who uses no chemicals and fertilizers).  There is a favorite spot in our garden for each of us.  Mine is beside the pond.2010-06-03/nap/f8437c

I've been really enjoying that body of water, the lilies, the fish, the irritating croaks of toads.  I brought in some vintage stone vessels and lined them up behind near the 'bog area'.  I learned so much about Nature, which I could observe sitting there, sipping coffee on our stone bench beside the pond....all this amidst the busy traffic noise that always accompanies the calmness!!  LOL!  Sometimes I don't hear the noise - such is my involvement in my own thoughts, in my own world.  That is a fortunate thing for anybody and I thank my forefathers for all of this.  They have taught me silently in so many ways, and I try to emulate them.

Early in the morning my wife and my mother pluck off most of the Hibiscus flowers  to adorn the God photos in our Worship Room.  So when I want to take photos later in the day, I get only leaves.  I ordered them not to clean up the plants, but to leave a few for me to look at when I'm there.  When a phone call comes for me during the daylight hours, 2010-06-03/nap/e1f971the first place they look for me is out in My Eden.  I spend time there when I've nothing else to do indoors.   (I prefer to do something or other, rather than to help my wife in the kitchen.)

Q. Can you explain what the structure in this photo is made of?

Dinu:  They are cow dung cakes.  Some cattle owner has done that in front of his (or her) home, or cow shed.  They do that with their fingers - slap! - then flatten.

Q.  Isn't gardening in India rather difficult due to the extreme weather?

Dinu:  Yes, to some extent.  We have to see to it that the plants get their quota of water during the summer.  We have at times shortages, but I collect rainwater into my main sump to save on using the natural resource to the extent possible.  Any day now summer will end and the monsoon will arrive.  Then the temperatures fall below 30C (86F). It is now about 36C (97F), but people are uncomfortable and feel as if it is about 40C (104F). This morning the2010-06-03/nap/448856 news here mentioned about certain places in northern India experiencing a heat wave, with the Mercury touching 45-46C (113-115F). There are a few places that can reach 50C (122F) which is scorching hot. But Mysore is lucky that way. They say it is because of the beautiful location and the presence of a hill on the southeast, that we have such pleasant weather almost all year round. Urbanization is the cause of the increase in temperatures and the killing of green cover.

 I was disappointed Saturday when I visited a couple of nurseries, that I could not find the Jaquemontia plant that I badly need. I needed creepers.  One died last year. But I got a few Evolvulus Blue Daze - new plants - the ones existing are probably getting old. The flowers of Jaq' and this one are so similar! The latter is suitable for hanging pots as it spreads. If you ask me what is my favourite smell in the garden .... I'd refer to:  1)The sweet fragrance from the sweet-scented rose (pink) - which flowers for me only rarely.  2) Sweet scented geranium.

Q. Have you traveled much outside of India? If you won an 'all expenses paid' trip to anywhere in the world. where would you choose to go and why?

Dinu:  Though I have 2010-06-03/nap/1ce363traveled to many places in India, mostly during my cricket tours, I did get an opportunity to attend a Spiritual Seminar in Switzerland. A group of friends traveled there to celebrate a grand spiritual event. This is my Swiss friend's blog on the Spiritual Seminar.  He provides links where it matters in the text.  That was to celebrate the 100th year. It was a fantastic trip from many angles. I have a blog documenting the dream tour, if anyone would like to read about it. The Swiss Alps are really a wonder! Everything is so organized there, very neat, systematic, clean air to breathe, good water to drink .... all the good things that can give peace of mind. The Masters say that wherever the hills are, the areas are divine. One must experience it by spending time in peace there. Close your eyes, observe the breath.2010-06-03/nap/7fac41

If I won an 'all expenses paid trip,' I would tour Europe since I got a small taste of it during the Swiss tour. I love to visit places with a long history, with parks and gardens, but my Mysore drags me back very quickly. Although Mysore is getting spoiled very quickly by development, I still want to get back here! I like to *nostalgiate* (word coined by me). I love Mysore Heritage. It is a historic city and I love the old buildings and things that are still around.

Q. Have you plans for any new hobbies, or interests you'd like to pursue?

Dinu:  No new hobbies to pursue, but photography has interested me since the camera first landed with me.  I am trying to capture what I can.  And Spirituality, which has always been a fascinating thing to experience.  I love it, because it has so many positive effects that radiate - the world must be peaceful.  Spirituality is not linked to any religion. 


And that is the end of our e-chat with Dinu.  He has a photoblog, and a fascinating blog called Mysorean Musings, where he discusses "jottings, memories, recollections, compilations, reactions, experiences and much more."  I've enjoyed my time with Dinu and hope you have too.  I'm sure he would love to hear from you in a thread below this article.  Come back again next week, won't you?

Related articles:
biography, garden, hydroponics, India, interview, pond, spotlight, tropical

About Nancy Polanski
I live in Western New York. I'm retired, after working for 30 years in the Microbiology Labs at our county hospital. My time now is spent mostly with the Karen refugee population in Buffalo, advocating for them, teaching, helping and enjoying them. I've twice traveled to their camps in Thailand and experienced their culture. It seems they have taught me more about life than I have taught them.

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
Thank you for the interview with Dinu PollyK Oct 16, 2012 3:37 AM 11
Wonderful interview with a fascinating subject. Zanymuse Jan 11, 2012 10:39 AM 14
Beautiful! Ridesredmule Jan 9, 2012 6:05 AM 1
Dinu's interview kaglic Jan 9, 2012 6:04 AM 2
So nice to know more about you! weeds Jan 9, 2012 6:04 AM 2
I feel like I got a little glimse of India Boopaints Jan 9, 2012 6:03 AM 3
india denimangle Jan 9, 2012 6:03 AM 1
Makes you want to know more. kareoke Jan 9, 2012 6:02 AM 20

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