The gardner, mali, is a tall slender man with an aged face and a timeless smile. He is darkened and wrinkled from long days in the unrelenting sun, but he his face is shadowed by a bright blue hat with a wide brim all around. I don't know his name, but I know his smile and I always make sure to say a "Salaam Alaikum" as I walk by. If he sees me coming from the distance, I can tell that his smile and his words of greeting are just waiting to come out as soon as I get close enough to hear.
This morning I saw the mali in the hostel yard, crouched near to the ground eastern style and holding a short blade. He was dressed in his usual light brown shalwar kameez. We said our customary greetings and I made my way to my morning class. A few hours later I returned to the hostel, seeing him again in the position but about five feet from where he had been. The third time I walked by him, was about four or five hours from when I had first seen him, and by this time he had proceded to the other side of our small garden. This time as I approached him from behind, I was wondering, what has he been doing out here all this time. He's in the middle of the grass and it doesn't seem like he is pulling up weeds or anything.
He was holding the blade and meticulously cutting the longer blades of grass. The grass behind him was neat and even, while the grass in front was in need of a trim. He was doing the entire yard by hand! I then asked myself, "Have i ever seen a lawnmower here?" and I couldn't remember seeing one. So in the absence of lawnmowers, this is how they get it done.