The unforeseeable country

The unforeseeable country

"This autumn, my daughter Marie-Charlotte and I went to India, to meet plant producers.
Each day spent in the country of the “sacred cow” brings its share of surprises, even when the day promises to be ordinary."

Jean-Marc Réa

Jean-Marc REA

We had been in India for a week, and time was flying by. Since our arrival in New Delhi, we hadn’t been able to wander around, nor to stray from our schedule. We had thoroughly planned, from Paris, many appointments with plants producers, every day in a different city.

" All those who travelled in this big country will testify: India is full of unexpected events and we were about to experience it. "

We did not know where to start the visit, so we interrogated the first person passing near us. He was certainly intrigued by our questions, because he quickly directed us to a manager. This manager listened to us, nodding from left to right, as only Indians do when they are not sure of what to say. He certainly thought that we were important people because we were coming from such a distant country, so he decided to introduce us to no less than the Advisor to the Minister. No sooner were we introduced to this tall and elegant man than he led us from stand to stand, to meet a selection of exhibitors.

we stopped at a booth, and the Advisor offered me a flask of powder, stating that it was Triphala. It was obvious that he was more a man of power than a plant enthusiast, because I happen to be very familiar with Triphala: it is made from a fruit, Amalaki, commonly referred to as Amla, and two berries, Bibhitaki and Haritaki, which are often found growing in the wild, in Indian forests. This whitish powder was certainly not Triphala, the colour, the taste, the smell were different. It seemed to me that it was rather Shatavari, a local asparagus prescribed as a feminine aphrodisiac, whose mischievous name means “she who possesses a hundred husbands”.

But this day, we had an opportunity to relax a little, as we only had to visit the Herbal Fair exhibition in Bhopal, where we had landed the night before. This event was dedicated to the “Fair Trade” and the Minister for Agriculture and Forestry of Madhya Pradesh (the Indian State where Bhopal is) was the guest of honour who would close the exhibition.

I shared my conclusions with the Advisor, who first rejected such a possibility; then, because of my insistence, he finally asked the owner of the flask. How stunned he was when the merchant agreed with me! He could have been offended, but instead, a large smile lit up his face: he found it wonderful that a French man knew the plants of his country. He then decided to introduce us to his minister. The minister was about to finish his address, and a press conference would follow.

The Advisor chose this moment to introduce each other, and we ended up on a podium, next to a minister and facing a swarm of journalists and photographers. We had landed in the unforeseeable country.

Next >