METRO PLUS

Tree doctor

HIS PROFESSION and his hobbyrevolve around the scalpel. In the operation theatre, he wields it to give a new shape and look to faces and back home, uses it to do the same with trees. He is D.L.N.Prasad, eminent plastic surgeon and the city's most popular bonsai practitioner.

The small garden at Dr.Prasad's Banjara Hills residence is lined with trees, from tamarinds, banyans, peepals to mangoes. None taller than a couple of feet, though. Beautifully trimmed into patterns and some with fruits, these miniature trees sit snugly in trays that dot the garden.

Dr.Prasad's tryst with bonsai began in 1965 when his wife, D. Indira took to the art. "She read an article on bonsai and started meddling with plants. A couple of years later, we took to scientific collection," he remembers. The fascination for trees in the trays stayed with them and since then, the couple nurtured hundreds of bonsai.

Now, the surgeon has about 160 specimens including some amazing ones like the small tamarind tree in one of the trays and a peepal. The prize possession however, happens to be a bonsai grown from the city's biggest and oldest tree, `Hathiyan Ka Jhad', located in the footsteps of the Golconda Fort. In sharp contrast to its 400-year-old parent, which has a 96-feet girth, this bonsai is a mere foot or so. "I grew it from a seed from that mammoth tree about 30 years ago," he says. The man who introduced bonsai in the city describes it as an art of dwarfing trees and plants and giving them aesthetic shapes by pruning and trimming them regularly. "It's not a costly hobby and all you need is patience and love for green," he says. Any free branching tree can be made to grow horizontally in a tray, but those with single and smaller leaves should be preferred, advises Dr.Prasad. But, while the size of a plant or a tree can be reduced, the same cannot be done with the fruits they offer.

Tree doctor

Acknowledged as the man who set up the first plastic surgery department in the State at Osmania General Hospital, Dr.Prasad was also instrumental in popularising bonsai in the city and in forming the Hyderabad Bonsai Society.

But how does he manage time for bonsai alongside a busy medical practise? "Now, don't tell me one does not have a few minutes a day to spend with plants. All that is needed is watering and trimming, which can be done while brushing the teeth or sipping coffee," says the surgeon. And aren't hobbies like these better than going to clubs?

"Club-goers usually end up with gaping holes in their wallet as well as the liver. Why not pursue bonsai that keeps you in touch with nature and helps in mental and physical well-being," smiles the bonsai man of Hyderabad.

T. LALITH SINGH

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