Of Orchids, Winning and Gratitude


I’ve written a lot about the annual orchid show that’s put up by the Kenya Orchid Society. Every year, I have attended this show to marvel at the displays, take pictures of the exotic orchids that are on display, maybe buy myself a plant during the plant sale and then spend a year trying very hard not to kill it. Let’s be honest here – I’ve killed quite a few orchids in the past but I feel I’m now getting better and better at understanding these gorgeous plants.

If you get the initial hang-ups out of the way, you’ll realise that these plants are not really as high maintenance as we think they are. I admit that many of the names are hard to pronounce but even that you eventually get used to. Talking to your plants is optional, but I am a bit on the ‘special side’ as I tend to have full-blown conversations with my plants.

I have been invited to join the Kenya Orchid Society many times but I never thought I’d ever fit in seeing the fabulous plants on display from the other members. It can be intimidating, but with a lot of encouragement from my friend Salima, I decided to bite the bullet and sign up. The membership was approved and I attended the very first meeting that was hosted by Alexandra Kontos who is in my opinion, the orchid whisperer. Her home has orchids growing all over the place – just the way the lawn at my home has weeds. At the meeting, everyone was very welcoming and senior members Tej and Avinash highly encouraged me to participate in the upcoming annual show.

What is the point of being a part of something if you are not going to participate? With that in mind, I entered my name for participation and then began the sleepless nights. Actually, it wasn’t really that bad but if I don’t add some drama, will I even be me?

The week of the exhibition dawned and I rummaged through the props I had lying at home, including a beautiful gramophone that my Dad had gifted to me many years ago. The theme of the show this year was Vintage and I went with Vintage Music, thinking of all the old long-play records I had lying in a box that could be a part of the props.

I have no idea how I would have managed to sort anything out had it not been for my fabulous daughter who got my plants together, sorted the props, thought of things to carry to the display like the props, stands, and many artistic and creative ideas.


I got a bit intimidated walking into the new exhibition area at the Sarit Centre because the display areas had been marked, and while looking at the taped-off areas, I may have suffered instant palpitations. What on earth was I doing here with my simplistic plants and ideas when there were so many beautiful displays with the most beautiful varieties of orchids around me?


I needn’t have stressed because many of the members were very supportive and helpful, full of ideas and assistance on how to display the plants at the most vantage points, getting involved in rearranging and giving me tips and tricks. I left the hall in the evening feeling pretty good about myself.


The next day was the members only cocktail and prize-giving ceremony before the event was opened to general public and just as I walked in, Anjali who is the secretary of the society, gushed a very enthusiastic congratulations.

Tejinder, who gave me the initial ideas of how to display and was literally down on her knees rearranging everything, pinned an orchid corsage on me and congratulated me. I’m still reeling from their words as they usher me in and I’m suddenly overwhelmed to a point where I can’t even speak. If you know me, you know how rare that is.

The evening passed by in the most pleasant manner. It was lovely to see the other members’ displays and the awards they got. I was very inspired and have decided that I’d really like to be more active with my orchids and learn more about them.

First things first, I want to learn how to pronounce them!




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