Some years back at the end of 2009, Garg ji requested me to join this group, then called as IndianTreePix, to which I was very hesitant to join. That is because I was just a few months old infant in the world of plants then. I was unaware of any web group; and I was content with uploads at my flickr photostream. I was into capturing cultivated plants, avenue trees that were found in immediate vicinity of my home. Garg ji never stopped following me to join the group, motivating me with some of his impressions about me, almost making me believe that I know a lot of plants. The “high” impression of his, made me nervous all the while, and therefore was reluctant to join. I visualized a group of people who would be conversing only botany and taxonomy, making it difficult to mingle. This fear was stopping me from joining. As usual, Garg ji’s perseverance of following up won. To date, this quality of his, is one of the prime mover and keeper of the group’s existence and growth. Somewhere in mid 2010, I finally joined!
As a typical entrant to any new organization, I went through its activities, read through earlier posts. At that time, Google Groups had a basic interface, and was just about friendly to a new-comer. I found the posts were related to commonly seen plants, and also to wild unknown and unseen plants. The gist of posts seemed to show two major sets of people – 1) eager to know about a plant, and 2) equally eager to tell about the plant. I found the conversations very amicable, with may be a rare few spikes of discord, those too settled cordially in no time, rarely or not happening again. I began to post.
I am certain, I had stumbled just like any beginner – by writing a vague generic subject line in my first posts. Guiding responses were quick to come, and got glided into groove satisfactorily. Successive posts proved encouraging. I was seeking identifications, and they were quick to come, often promptly. Those moments are of great joy, because the urge of knowing what a plant could be, is highest, when one has exhausted all possible resources to know about it. “Thank you very much” is too little a exchange for getting a ID, or for getting a guess validated. Often I found that my photos do not carry required aspects of a plant for getting it differentiated from another close / allied species. That is a agony which I believe most of the nature lovers have to bear. I learnt an important lesson that I need to cover more aspects of plants that I meet, in order to know it without any ambiguity. Frankly, I still commit the mistake as if an habit, though not as much as earlier.
With much of my plants getting labelled scientifically, I have found compiling regional names for the plants, a favourite occupation. Sole motivator for this indulgence were a few good words, first coming from Tabish that I am good at hunting vernacular names. I did not know about it until then! This gathering of Indian names of plants has become my personal project, that will, for sure, not end during my lifetime. It gives me immense pleasure pursuing this project.
Such pursuits have become possible because of constant encouragement and motivation from eFI. I have found friends here who spare no post without delivering a few good words. Whatever be the quality of query, it gets resolved. Many a times a solo photo too has fetched an ID – that is sheer expertise OR field study. On the other hand, a good photoset may linger for a while to get an ID – then the reason is obvious – required aspects of the plant is / are missing to arrive to any conclusion. Surprisingly, no much fuss is ever made about the lacking of aspects; instead the experts take extra pain to provide the keys to facilitate identification in future. Such cordiality is a great blessing for growth and survival of any eGroup. Everyone here is humble. With such a company of friends here, learning or pursuing any personal project gets easier. Any newcomer gets easily guided into groove of his / her liking.
I have no idea how other eGroups function. I had joined a couple of other, where I did not interact much. Perhaps I got used to the conducive environment of this group. There are some basic rules to follow which one gets used to with ease. No one objects to wild guesses, and none gets disturbed with a misidentification. Wrong identifications do not get past keen eyes, confusions get erased, clarifications come spontaneously. Besides the regular encouragement by way of compliments and good words, I have found that a person gets recognized for his / her knowledge and contribution by way of posts. Knowledge may not be necessarily botanical or taxonomic, it could be related to medicinal, propagation, conservation, distribution, symbiosis, and so on. Members are from diverse fields, different walks of life, … the common interest being – to know and to let know about plants!
It is great pleasure being a member of this group; it keeps me glad that more and more of our plant species are getting on to internet, organizations and institutes related to plants are also gathering momentum, making the eFlora of India better than ever.
Thank you all.