1965 etched on the aluminium Tiffin box. The day at the school picnic, my sister and I sat and had the puri-bhaji at Arrey’s Picnic Point garden. Over the years I have visited that area, passed through and stood before the lake, where the Sunday goers and occasional couples haunt.
The memory recall was a wishful comparison between the great parks and the would–be / could-be Park at Arrey Colony, possibly the only large green belt left in Mumbai. Aesthetics is all about non-negotiability and brutal conviction. The Ahmedabad river–front, Vastrapur and Kankaria lakes are examples of these two sentiments. “No trade-off and willingness to stick” which is sorely lacking in the Mumbai rehab context.
My wife and I set off, like children, googling the train and the walk directions and enjoying making mistakes and asking for help and reached the street where the horse-drawn carriages stood alongside one of the openings to Manhattan’s Central. And yes, I had witnessed its beauty from surrounding tall buildings many times during my investor meets in the past; spent a Sunday watching people gathering and playfully enjoying. Simple pleasures will always remain with us. Though this time, I saw more people tuned to their handsets rather than watching the expectant squirrel and the sparrows looking for the crumbs.
The two hour walk through the Park was fun. The lake, the street-entertainers, the cats-dogs abundance, the getting-lost in its many leisure lanes, children at mini-theme park, cyclists enjoying nice slopes, some boating and plenty of eating while you feed the sparrows. The Park has MET on one side and the famous Apple shop at one corner and the Taj manged hotel on the other corner.
There were joggers of all types. The determined ones doing rounds at the Jacqueline Onasis reservoir. A few early evening regulars on the main street and maybe no late night ones anymore. The 30 year old 9 pm brutal rape incident of a jogger at Central Park and its messy outcome haunts even today.
That night I dreamt about Central Park and all the Parks that I had visited, in particular Hyde Park and St James Park of London, the Park in Copenhagen, the Park in Amsterdam, the park in Geneva, the Turkish gardens, the French, the Delhi gardens, but most of all, my little school garden, we fondly called the aeroplane garden at Santacruz, Mumbai.
Photograph by Devang Desai