A 59-year-old gardener who has been tending to the roses at the Rose Garden in Sector 16 since 1996 will be the guest of honour on Sunday, the concluding day of the Rose Festival. Ranganathan, who began with a salary of Rs 5.50 per month, today takes home a package of Rs 46,000 per month.
A native of Chennai, Ranganathan could pass off as a Sikh gentleman thanks to his neat turban. It was in 1977, before he was to join the Chandigarh administration’s horticulture wing as a gardener, that someone advised him to wear a turban.
“It was a suggestion I received then, but now I have started liking it so much that I wear it even when I am off duty. It’s another matter that when I speak, people are surprised as I have a South Indian accent,” he said, laughing.
Mayor Rajesh Kalia will be bring Ranganathan, his wife and son from his residence in his official vehicle on Sunday.
The gardener will give away prizes to the winners of various competitions. Ranganathan’s son is in the third year of engineering at Chandigarh University, he says.
“In 1979, I joined the horticulture wing of the Chandigarh administration and thereafter I was shifted to the Chandigarh Municipal Corporation in 1996 to look after the roses here. Ever since, I have been working here,” he said.
Ranganthan added that even though he will retire in 2020, his love for roses will never fade.
“They have become my family now. I am very fond of them, I still run after people who try to pluck these roses. I tell them you will be fined Rs 500 if you do so,” Ranganathan said. Mayor Rajesh Kalia said he will be going to Ranganathan’s residence as a mark of respect to the family.
“Ranganathan stays in Sector 26 and I will pick him up from there. He has worked very hard for our Rose Garden and he deserves this honour,” Kalia said.