Lifestyle Features

Planting Seeds of Hope and Fun at Bollywood Veggies

Post on 18/07/16

A group of survivors and caregivers show us how something as simple as reconnecting with nature can do wonders for the body, mind and soul.

We gathered at the NTUC Eldercare centre in Serangoon one recent Saturday morning. Despite the wet weather, we were looking forward to the activities planned for the day. There were close to 40 of us — survivors, caregivers, and volunteers of the Singapore National Stroke Association — gathering to board a bus that would take us to Bollywood Veggies at the remote North West end of Singapore.

IMG_2144The journey to Bollywood Veggies took about 45 minutes. Upon reaching Bollywood Veggies and stepping out of the bus, we were greeted with delicious smells from the restaurant near the entrance. A charming pushcart selling souvenirs was close-by, and our reception area, a room with tables and chairs prepared for everyone, was tucked at the end of a short corridor nearby.

IMG_2158After being briefed by our friendly host in the reception area, we made our way to the potting area to begin planting our own plants, gingerly stepping over or avoiding puddles while carrying umbrellas on the way. We found four types of plants prepared for us. Nazleen, our host for the potting session, introduced the plants, holding up each plant in the air and commanding our attention by speaking loudly for each introduction. “This is your humble pandan plant,” she said, brandishing the small plant in the air, then doling interesting facts of the plant, such as the pandan being a muscle relaxant, having medicinal properties, and being used in cooking nasi lemak. Eventually, we learned more about the 3 other types of plants. The lemon grass is a natural digestive and has essential oils kept in the leaves, not its stems. The India Borage smells faintly like mint, and is a distant family of thyme. The Southernwood looks like dill, and is excellent when cooked with fish.

A flurry of activities unfolded when we were instructed to begin planting. We scooped soil, passed plants around, watered plants, and scrambled to look for markers to mark our plastic bag that we would keep our pots of plants in. At the end, we each ended up with two pots of plants in a plastic bag to bring home.


Our next Bollywood Veggies host shares the same name as the actor Anthony Hopkins. He revealed that besides sharing the same name, he and the actor came from the same place (Wales), living just 9 miles apart. Endearingly called Tony by his colleagues, he entertained us with vignettes of his personal life, at one point telling us that his grandchildren asked him for a “car”, referring to the wheelchair of someone from our group. Tony conducted the “Show and Tell” session, in which he gave entertaining facts about fruits, leaves or flowers that were spread out on a large table. It was an interactive session. ”Look up there!” he pointed to the opposite end of the room at one point. When our heads were turned, he cheekily fixed a bright red Heliconia flower on his nose. “This is how you scare someone else,” he grinned, with a fierce new “nose” perched on his face. “Do you know what happens if we ingest castor oil?” he asked at another point, and revealed that ingesting castor oil will cause a horribly upset stomach, and that mice that ingest it will die within two days.

L1000107We were treated to lunch after the “Show and Tell” session. Dishes of vegetables and meat fresh from Bollywood Veggies or the vicinity were served from the kitchen. The sumptuous meal won praises across the room. Dr Goh Chor Boon shared his experience as a stroke survivor after lunch. His personal experience struck a chord with everyone in the room who had gone through stroke. He spoke of his tenacity for recovery and the importance of having a positive attitude. “I don’t like the term stroke survivors,” he admitted, “We need a better way to describe ourselves.” Someone chimed in, “warriors.” Stroke warriors it is then.

I checked the stroke support Whatsapp group message. Someone had made a very astute observation at the end of our trip: “Event finish, then rain stop”. Nonetheless, everyone was happy and brimming with smiles.

By Natalie Kwok, Survivor.

This outing was organised by the Singapore National Stroke Association (SNSA). Find out more about SNSA and join us for upcoming fun and meaningful activities catered to survivors and their families by clicking here.

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