Pherozeshah Mehta Garden or Hanging Garden, Malabar Hill, Mumbai

Sir Pherozeshah Mehta Garden is popularly known as Hanging garden. I think the word hanging signifies its geographical characteristic of being located atop the Malabar Hill. It almost feels like you are walking in an elevated park and all the surrounding towers seem to be at par with you. This is an extremely well kept garden. There are numerous hedges at corners in shapes of animals and lots of walking tracks. There are speakers placed intermittently along the tracks, which soothe your mind while you are working hard to burn your calories.

This garden is known to be constructed in 1881 over a main reservoir. The primary purpose of which was to secure the water from the nearby Tower of Silence’s activities. (information courtesty: Wikipedia)

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This stone placard reads this “The reservoirs beneath this garden were constructed in 1880 and extended to hold 90 million gallons in 1921. The garden has named by the Corporation after the Late Sir Pherozeshah Mehta.”

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Mud walking tracks are laid for walking enthusiasts.

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Many of the street lamps are solar powered.

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It was getting dark so I couldn’t figure the time using the sun dial.

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There is also a 2nd Innings pavilion specially meant for senior citizens. The park is usually crowded  on the weekends. You can see an army of kids buzzing all around the park with their frisbees, balls and bats. While their mothers and fathers stretch themselves on the blankets. Overall it is a must-go garden.

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Non-Dolphin Acquarium, Irla, Mumbai

It is called the Dolphin Acquarium which is an utter deception. I felt cheated, like going to an Udipi restaurant and being denied Idli and Wada. But after visiting the place I could reason, it is probably a business strategy. The BARC dome like looking structure is the aqcuarium which is surrounded by a man made artificial pond. You can take a boat ride here for about 15 Rs./person, and scores of ducks or geese (what’s difference between them, btw? Need to go through a pre-school library) along with turtles give you company.

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Once we entered the gate, there stood two large birds walking around as if patrolling. If you don’t pay attention, they might just pick pocket you, so beware of (Ostrich?) No, its an Emu. One of my friends corrected me humbly. There were lots of other birds, ofcourse in their cages.

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The dome structure of the acquarium looked a bit rickety to me. There were tarpaulin sheets tied up at various places and the cement-filled cracks looked prominent on the ceiling. Once we got the kids inside, they began squealing with excitement. At the peak of their reverberation, I took a serious look at all the glass cases with wriggly and wiggly stuff. I heard the crackling and just like in movies the gush of water came through the glass boxes violently carrying along the exotic species with it.

Just then in between this 2 sec movie in my mind, K shouted in my ears…”Amma, nokku nokku Nemo!”

I paused the movie and told her sweetly, “This is a clown fish, baby.”

“No, its Nemo!”, K said getting herself geared up.

“Well, sure it is then, sweetopie.” I said thinking of the greater common good. I thought to myself how humble and adjusting I have become. Gone are the days of this fierce argumentator, I have outgrown it!

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Oh yes, how could I forget the toy train? It was rather parked permanently on one side. The kids didn’t ask why it wasn’t moving so we didn’t inquire.

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All in all this is a place to be, yeah ofcourse. Do we have the luxury of choice? It should be a change to see something besides people, buildings and cars.

 

Amarsons Garden, Breach Candy, Mumbai

This is probably the best maintained garden in Mumbai. It is situated in one of the most affluent neighborhoods in the city. This area including the adjacent Tata gardens were originally a construction dumpyard. Cranes, trucks and bulldozers were abandoned in these places. This entire garden is commonly known as the Amarsons garden, though the childrens’ park is named as Harish Mahindra Childrens’ Park. They have an entry fee of 10 Rs. and is very neatly kept.

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There are these life sized animal dummies which get the kids very excited.

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Chess boards

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Excited mother and baby on the Rhino dummy.

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I just can’t get enough of the setting sun.

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This place is worth visiting frequently. There is a library at the exit where in case you live the the area, you can take the membership. There are lots of eateries on your way out which can captivate anyone. After a long walk or a jog at the park its a leeway that anyone would be willing to indulge in.

 

 

 

The Summer Train

Kava eyed the big black bag that her Dadi had brought from the market. Sudha caught her from toppling into it. She whined “I want the biggie biggie ball, Amma”. “They are not balls they are grapefruits, Bobo”. Sudha picked her up with the motive of distracting her but she wiggled and coiled and slipped out from her hands. The door bell rang just in time and Kava leapt to open it. She lifted herself from the toes and clicked the latch slowly opening the heavy door. The courier guy extended the paper to Sudha for signing and gave the envelopes to Kava. This give and take procedural transaction amused her. Every time she opened the door there stood a new face extending something interesting.

Sudha decided to take the train this time. She wanted to do it for her own sake. She ignored all the comments that her friends had made about getting her daughter to do potty on a moving train. And her mother in law’s concern about securing her while they would be asleep at night. All this seemed trivial to her. Don’t hundreds and thousands of middle class travel on the Indian railways everyday. Her mother never lost her when they took their annual trips to Kerala every summer.

Days long journey to Kannur through the arid Indian terrain marked the beginning of summer for her. Her father would explain the geology of the rocks and the rain shadow of the Deccan. It would generally be a monologue. She would write down the names of stations and rivers in a free pocket-sized diary. After the nightfall she would delegate this job to her father.

Until she became old enough, she slept with her mother on the same berth. She would sleep with her head on the side of her mother’s legs and they accommodated themselves. She wondered if her mother had washed her legs after going to the lavatory and with such thoughts would transcend into sleep. She would wake up in the morning and inquire if the job was done. Looking at the empty lines in the diary she would look for her father, who would still be asleep on the top berth. Her mother would insist not to wake him up and explain, “Who boards the train at night? The driver didn’t stop because he didn’t see anybody waiting on the platform.” Young Sudha would be perplexed but would fake a convinced look.

Even though she did the bookings a month ago, there was no confirmation as of yet. She decided not to bother with it. It is only February, no where close to Onam or Vishu. It isn’t time for vacation yet. Foreigners would have come and gone in the month of December or January.

“Why should it not get confirmed? I see no reason why?” She told Rahul, upon his inquiry.

“Yeah? I can book the flights it’ll not take time, that is if you want me to.” Rahul said looking away to conceal his concern.

Sudha kept on checking the IRCTC website for updates. She had convinced herself that the website have forgotten to update their tickets. When self doubt seem to dawn she decided to use the tatkal option. The morning she had to book the tickets she woke up early enough to finish making tea and Kava’s breakfast. She placed her laptop along side a cup of tea and waited for the time to pass. She logged in exactly at ten and typed in the abbreviations, LTT for Lokmanya Tilak Terminus and she typed in KPQ in the arrival space for Kannapuram. This is a small town in the Kannur district of North Kerala. The railway station at Kannapuram had only two platforms. There is no overpass and passengers were legally expected to cross the railway tracks if they arrive at platform no. 2. Sudha didn’t mind all this. The one and only one ticket window with no conspicuous queue in front of it. Empty precast benches no one eager to sit seemed to her that enough was provided for the populous here.

Multiple attempts to log in had locked her out. She cursed the website and feared if her father in law had heard her. She called Rahul.

“I don’t understand why they want to tormet me.”

“Who?” Rahul sounded worried.

“The IRCTC people. I logged in time but the website got stuck. So I closed it and logged in again. I did that couple of times, but anyway long story short. We don’t have time, can you book the tickets through tatkal?”

Sudha’s phone buzzed. The sms read, “its done”. Relieved she began packing again. There wasn’t much to pack, atleast for herself. She had enough clothes in the cupboard where her mother dutifully kept a rack clear for her. Clothes that seemed out of style or the ones that her mother in law didn’t approve of to be worn here were stowed there. Even after six years of marriage she had not learnt how to dress up to her mother in law’s satisfaction. Besides packing Kava’s clothes and board books, she had to pack a few packets of powder bought from the Chedda store in Matunga. Soyabean atta, bajri, jowar and big sized green gram, which she had read were very beneficial for diabetics. Her mother has been a type 1 diabetic for the past 20 years. The knowledge of which was guarded like a secret from family and friends, only at the insistence of her mother. Sudha would say “What’s there to hide? People get diseases all the time and some die. What’s the big deal?” But her father always said “She is entitled to her privacy, we should respect that. Moreover what do we gain from telling everyone?”. Sudha’s only worry is how her mother would avoid the sweet tea and payasam during social occasions. People would insist and she would succumb. Sudha’s mother-in-law would always insist to take boxes of motichoor ladoo, kaju katli, gathias or chevadas. But she would merely say, “Now you get all these things there too” thinking life would be easy if only she could speak the truth. Instead she would say “Oh these grapefruits! They don’t get it there”.

Now she was juggling with a couple of mini footballs to pack, so she set the priority. Potty seat, laptop and then the fruit. She set the heavy swollen suitcase out her door, waiting for the driver to carry it down the stairs. “Aa shun? Only one bag?” her father-in-law looked surprised. Sudha always thought it uncool to carry so many bags while traveling. That reminded her of gujarati families and their quintessential behavior of traveling with so many bags filled with farsan. Meanwhile she chose not to comment, where a small smile would do.

Trains were never on time, she remembered from her childhood days. Her parents would talk to their friends about how late the trains were when they got back from their vacation. It was like one of those weather talks, everyone had something to say. Her father would compare notes with Nambiar Uncle.

“We should have arrived at Pune at midnight, but we reached only at 5 in the morning.” her father would say disappointed.

“Oh once you are more than 3 hours late, they will begin to sidetrack you at every station.”

“I know, by the end of the day you will be 12-15 hours late”.

Rahul was checking the reservation chart for their names. He called out their bogie number to Sudha and she began walking down the LTT platform. Kava’s head was perched on her shoulder and she seemed musing at this fairly crowded place. The train was already at the station and the stench of defecation and urine overpowered the air. She dodged the potters riding the big luggage trolley. Freshly arrived migrants from the northern states spread themselves out on the concrete floor. Children of these migrants began begging while they were at it. They eyed Kava, scanning her clothes and her hair clips.

Sudha found the 2 tier AC compartment and stood a bit away to avoid the stench. She tried to put Kava down but she curved her legs and protested. She spotted Rahul from afar, it wasn’t his clothes or his physicalness but something about his walking. He was rather paddling, like those ducks at the Joggers’ Park. Unbothered by what was going around him, his eyes eager to find Sudha’s face in this sea of people. Rahul mostly wore the free conference T-shirts everywhere else but his office. He sported the “JavaLava 2.0 Bangalore 2010”. She hated this T-shirt because it reminded her of the fierce argument both of them had in December that year. Kava had gone beyond her due date, just like her current nature she clung to Sudha’s womb. Despite Sudha’s efforts with yoga and duck walking, the baby seemed happy to stay put. Rahul who had arrived way in advance at his in-law’s house was now getting impatient. The first two weeks seemed like a detoxification routine, breathing in the cleanest air ever in his life. But with Sudha ready to go any moment and no where he could take her, he felt like he was in a house arrest. His only solace was walking down the market where he understood nobody and could not read anything. All the names of the shops were written in curvaceous fonts. There were hardly any people on the roads after sun down. The street lights weren’t sufficient to light themselves. Nights were more darker or so it seemed to him. He was in need of a desperate change from this world which practically seemed stopped to him. Just when he was growing restless the Java conference came up in Bangalore. There was no potential for discussion with Sudha.

“I am not going for entertainment, it is also my work.” he looked into Sudha’s tears filled eyes.

“What? You want to leave me in this condition?” And there she released it causing a deluge from her eyes and nose.

“Well I am attending just two days. And not just that the doc said there’s some waiting still.”

“Did you come all the way to attend this conference?”

“What’s there to worry? Your parents are with you and Bangalore is not far away, just a few hours. Moreover the hospital is only walking distance from here.”

Perhaps Sudha was more worried about what her parents will think of him, leaving her like this. Sudha’s water broke that night when she slept in her bed alone.

Sudha felt her phone in the front pocket, by the time she moved Kava from right to the left hand it was calm. Since the day Kava was born her phone only buzzed. Keeping in mind the increased noise levels around, she toggled her ringer bringing the phone to life. There were already three missed calls from home. She promptly called her mother to say that everything was alright which was her default statement. But her mother wouldn’t settle.

“How is Kava? I want to talk to her.”

“Does she know that she’s coming to meet Ammama and Achchan?” Then followed lots of instructions.

“Don’t give her any food from outside. You can’t even trust the bottled water that they bring in the compartment. They might just fill it from the toilet for all you know.”

“I’ll be careful, don’t worry. Moreover what’s safe for me is safe for her.”

“I don’t know all that but be very careful at night. Don’t you go off to sleep. Wrap a dupatta or something around her and fasten it to your waist.”

“Oh come’on. Am I not standing here and talking to you? Did you ever lose me?”

“Those days were very different and besides we used to travel in sleeper class.”

“Alright, whatever. My hands are aching now. Am keeping the phone.” Sudha attempting to cut short.

“Oh why? Isn’t Rahul there with you?”

“Ofcourse he’s there. Where is he going to go? Bye now.”

She slid the phone into her front pocket and positioned Kava’s dangling head who was fast asleep now. Rahul got into the compartment first with the luggage. His sneakers squeaked on the vinyl flooring of the compartment. They shared their booth with two other Portuguese, who were on a back pack trip to Kerala.

The girl on the side booth looked visibly excited in the company of these caucasians. Looking for every opportunity to make these strangers feel at home. When the food arrived she introduced it with their names and warned them to stir away from the pickle packet. When their ears began ringing with the pungent spices of the curry, she shared some of her shiro. Sudha and Rahul shared a glance and began looking elsewhere.

The tainted glass windows of the AC compartment took all the fun away from Sudha. Everything looked yellow from one side and blue green from the other. She got eager to tell Kava stories that her father used to tell her. But the constant motion and the humming noise of the AC put her to lull.

Rahul killed all the time reading magazines that he usually never got time to read. He would pick up Kava when the hawkers came cooing “kaapi, kaapi”, “wadai wadai, perupu wadai”, sometimes even following them through compartments. Occasionally he got down with her at the stations where the train halted for a longer time. When she got cranky they would simply look around if there were any other toddlers in the train to give her company or just go to the wash basin and wash their hands. She kept on asking for her rocking chair and refused to eat. All the blue curtains in the booth seemed to constrain her. Sudha couldn’t sleep with Kava working out like a rolling pin. She got up before her alarm and looked at the watch, it was 6.10 in the morning. Just then her mother called.

“Hey were you sleeping?”

“No Mom what do you expect?”

“We’ll see you in an hour’s time. You should begin keeping all your luggage near the door.”

“There’s one whole hour. Don’t worry we’ll see you then.”

Kava seemed glad to be up and out of the blue enclosure. Rahul held her in his arms and showed her the paddy fields. She clung to him and giggled when the chill wind blew on her face. Both of their eyes looked puffy, refreshed and Sudha saw their resemblance. While she was wondering why her parents didn’t live few hours away.

They got down at platform number two. While crossing the tracks she saw her father’s car slowly pulling up. Kava was excited to see them and tried to curl around her mother’s legs. She thought her parents looked a tad bit older than last time and was wondering if this feeling was mutual. In the car her father started talking about the politics and weather to which Rahul seemed attentive as usual. Her mother sat next to her in the back seat, so that she could cuddle her granddaughter.

“Mom where can I get a potty seat here? I didn’t pack her’s this time.” Sudha asked her mother.

“Potty seat? I don’t think you get these things here. This is not a big city like yours.”

“You must get it somewhere, at a baby store or something like that. What do kids do here?”

“They just take ‘em to the paddy fields in their backyard.” her father said laughing out loud.

“Why didn’t you get it?” her mother asked.

“Oh there wasn’t much space in the bags. Its kind of a bulky piece.”

“You shouldn’t have packed your clothes.” her mother clarified.

“Its not my clothes, I got you some grapefruits. They are good for you.”

“Grapefruits? Why did you even bother? These things are available now here.”

Sudha rolled the window down and mouthed the fresh air.

Ranibagh or Veermata Jijabai Bhonsle Udyan, Byculla, Mumbai

Veermata Jijabai Bhonsle Udyan was formerly known as Victoria Gardens. The entire garden is spread out on approximately 42 hectares. This whole property was owned by the wealthy Jewish businessman called David Sasoon. He later donated it to the Municipal Corporation of Bombay. The garden was laid out in 1861 and possesses one of the richest flora, some of the trees are known to be very old and endangered. It also houses the Bhau Daji Lad Museum and the Mumbai Zoo. Information courtesy: Wikipedia

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Jijamata and her son Shivaji’s statue at the garden

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The clock tower at the entrance

Victoria and Albert Museum was also built by David Sasoon which was renamed as Bhau Daji Lad Museum in 1975. The construction of this Victorian style building was started in 1862 and was completed in 1871. It underwent renovation from 2003 to 2007. It contains a large number of archaeological artifacts. At the entrance of the Museum lies a stone elephant which was picked up from the Elephanta caves and sent to Britian in 1864, then later brought back. Imagine the haul it must have taken! There are clay models, old maps of Mumbai, silver and copper wares, ancient jewelleries, etc. It also has won the UNESCO Award for Excellence in 2005.

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Blooming gulmohars

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This is the Baobab tree. It is a native of the island of Madgascar. It looks weird with huge trunks that stores water and slender branches. This garden is a botanical treasure.

This zoo is one of the oldest in the country. Animals activists have often complained about the sorry state of the animals and the utter carelessness of the zoo officials. The animals in captivity have known to be dead because of lack of hygiene and adequate care. There are only few animals in the zoo and they don’t look happy. It has taken me six visits to finally see the one-horned Rhino rising from its tank. The single Rhino was sulking along the fence and avoiding the limelight, definitely not people friendly. Don’t know if you can blame the zoo officials for this. I haven’t yet seen the Lion, who is known to be there but have to see it to believe it. There are plenty of monkeys and deers.

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The ornamental archway entrance

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The fake one

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White Pea hen

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The big blobs of black are actually Bats

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Hopeful to see the crocodile which isn’t there

The number of empty cages are much more than occupied ones. These cages seem to wither away under the vast canopy of the trees.

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The black stone statue of King Edward VII was also made by David Sasoon when the King was visiting. This statue was shifted to this garden after the Indian Government’s ruling that none of the British leaders’ monuments were to be kept in the public.

The Central Zoo Authority has sanctioned the revamp of the zoo which was underway since the last few years. After the revamp, the zoo is planning to exhibit 18 Indian animals like hyenas, jackals, wolves, sloth bears, wild dogs, porcupines, mouse deer, sambars, common otters, Asiatic lions, Bengal tigers, leopards, jungle cats, and five exotic species like emu, hippopotamus, jaguar, zebra and Humboldt penguins. The renovated zoo will be open to public in March 2015, if at all the works start like planned in September 2013. Information courtesy: Hindustan Times

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This is the approved plan for revamping the zoo, that is put up at the entrance of the zoo. But I have my fingers crossed!

Horniman Circle Gardens, Mumbai

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This is one of the oldest gardens in city of Mumbai. Construction of the garden started in 1869 and was completed in 1872. Then, it was a unique design to plan an open space with buildings all around it. Trees were planted at the periphery with wide walkways for public use. This place was originally known as Elphinstone Circle, named after the Governor Lord John Elphinstone. A huge ornamental fountain was placed in the center of the garden, which later was changed to an Art Deco iron pipes design as of today. After the independence, it came to be known as Horniman Circle to honor Benjamin Horniman, editor of Bombay Chronicle newspaper, who supported the freedom movement. During the pre-independence times, this place became the favorite meeting place of the elites and cultural events were held here. Information courtesy: Wikipedia and a plaque at the garden.

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This board at the park narrates its story. Surrounding this park stands heritage office buildings like The Asiatic Library, Reserve Bank of India and The Times of India.

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This fountain is the signature symbol of this garden.

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The archaic entrance gates from the Raj era.

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Today this is just like any other garden in the city. Lost, battered and beaten! Though the garden is quite green. The credit for which don’t go to the BMC because it is not something that they had planted, but they did the least to not screw it up.

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Flora in the garden is quite varied, with gulmohars and copper pods

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The lone duck in the fountain, looking for company

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I don’t understand what it is about see-saws particularly. They are never seatable.

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No seats at all.

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If they can’t repair it, they can remove it atleast, so that it won’t hurt anyone.

This garden often is the venue of the annual Sufi concert called Ruhaniyaat. There are several other cultural programs held here throughout the year. Most of the times its open for public, but sometimes we have seen the gates closed, like the one below.

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I wonder if its legally correct to use a public property on a public holiday for private purposes and not allow the aam aadmi inside? This calls for a PIL, what say?

Homposting (Composting@home)

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No I am not a treehugger, so my reaction to my own determination was “uhh…are you sure?”. The rot, slime and stink, am I ready for it? I live in one of the suburbs of Mumbai where the BMC garbage trucks show up just once in a while. The swollen black trash bags on char-rastas and foothpaths have become part of our streets. Crows pick on them and leave behind the spewing leftovers. If you look at it technically one can figure out the character of the household by the garbage it throws. Tetrapacks, cereal boxes, imported fruits lay lavishly around the tree trunks, as if its some kind of offering.

Where my parents live in Kerala there no garbage trucks at all. They compost all their kitchen waste for their garden. No I am not saying they are great. If you happen to live in a house that has a backyard, chances are that you would also do it. That doesn’t mean their streets are ultra clean. Non-biodegradable waste for lack of any alternatives get burnt or is thrown at street corners. The tattered plastic bags hover on the roads. The real problem of waste in our cities is lack of segregation. Almost 65% of waste from households are biodegradable. So my intention was to fix this 2/3rds of waste that comes from my household.

So I started googling and Youtubing. As I was sifting through the countless how-to videos and pictures it seemed to me that it would not be that difficult. With few pictures on my smart phone, I straight went to Khumbarwada, Sion the hub of pot-making, to make a prototype of a composter. I deduced that terracotta is the best material for this purpose. It retains some bit of heat necessary for decomposition but doesn’t get too hot. I found a lady, Jayaben who makes pots of 25 ltrs capacity and quickly ordered three. Jayaben was forthcoming so asked her if she was willing to make some changes for my purpose. Before baking them, I asked her to drill holes on the sides for aeration. When I demanded few holes on the bottom, she looked at me suspiciously and guess thats when she raised her price. I don’t think she understood my purpose. But I was least bothered about that and the price, my fear was I quitting in the middle.

I got three pots and decided to put them one above the other. Strategically I put them on the terrace of our apartment, away from people’s eyes and their questions.

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Then I started and have not stopped since the past three months. All bio-degradable wastes from our kitchen religiously go through me. Everyone in the house know that my watchful eyes guard the trash can. Plastic is forbidden and even the smallest of the green stub need to go in the can. Here are a few pictures of the stuff…

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This is the fresh left overs from kitchen

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This is after few days….when they slowly lose water

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This is after a week’s time when they reduce to its 50% volume. Few visitors like bugs and insects come to visit the mix. But be assured they are not here to stay they just help in the process of decomposition. Once I put remains of watermelon and the mix became slimy and started stinking. Quickly, I googled for remedy and put dry leaves and some soil over it.

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This is how it looks after 5 weeks. Completely decomposed, brown-black in color and precisely smells like fresh earth. Voila!

My next task is to get few pots and plant veggies in them. Lets see if I have patience for that.

I still have Jayaben’s number. Let me know if you feel like giving it a try, I would be more than happy to help.

 

 

Central Park, Khargar, Navi Mumbai

It is a long way to get here. If you live in Mumbai Suburban this might feel like going for an excursion. Central Park in Khargar is around 100 acres partly developed and yet to be. Abutting this property is the extravagant Khargar Golf Course. When I visited last monsoon, it was surrounded by greens and was relatively new.

The main building was still under construction. The park has lots of play areas for children of all ages. There is one specifically meant for toddlers with rubberised flooring. All the play equipments look new and unique. There is a huge amphitheater waiting to be rocked by a concert. At the entrance is a huge water fountain where kids seem glued.

Now this blog is not really about how good this place is. But it is about how long this place is going to remain good. Here are a few pictures.

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Toddlers’ play area

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Women sitting on children’s swings

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This is called stliding, which is standing + sliding

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A middle aged man (looks somewhat on a heavier side) sitting on children’s car.

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I understand she might have been deprived of the childhood fun

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Heres a close up

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Yes they all want to slide!

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Saree and burqa laden women taking turns with their toddlers in the lap

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I don’t know if you see what I see…heres another close up

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He is swinging with a baby in his lap

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I won’t be surprised to see the slides broken and empty swing frames next time I go here. But I will be disappointed to see how fast it would have been degraded. It almost seems like gluttony of a different kind. Finishing it off before anyone else can have it.

The Outback

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of Maharashtra! ….. Title is a bit over the top, yeah? Sorry it was delibrate. Amid the titles posted by my facebook friends who travel to Australia, New Zealand and Europe, this was my way to get hits or rather Likes! These pictures are taken through our drive-journey to Igatpuri, Bhandardhara, Deolali and Nashik. Just two and a half hours away from Mumbai and will not cost you much.

As you drive away you will hardly find people on the road. The roads are fine and completely pot-hole free, unless you are driving in the interiors. For lack of understanding or the use of it, some women dry clothes and crops on the roads. You can find them beating the dry hay to get the grains out. The striking thing is so much land for so less people and here you are living in a pressure cooker.

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This is somewhere along the State Highway 44. An irrigation canal which abuts acres and acres of paddy fields which just turned golden.

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This is a combine harvester. Thanks to K’s book “On the Farm“. These are huge and go chugging through the field. They sweep an average size field in couple of hours which probably take men and women days with their backs bent under the sun.

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More paddy fields ready for the harvester, either man or machine 

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Aah! now you know where all the money goes!

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Somewhere along National Highway no. 3

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White Storks

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Onlookers probably belonging to the women who was drying clothes on the road.

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Along National Highway no. 3

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On the way to Bhandardara dam

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I attempted to count, guessed about 25 people in this jeep. No don’t conclude on the population density by looking at this, jeeps are probably a rare resource here.

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My husband wants to start a company that will provide helicopter rides around here

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Very ancient Champa tree near the Pandav-leni caves

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Entrance to one of the caves

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Gangasagar dam reservoir, Nashik

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Bhandardara dam

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Bhandardara dam

Would be happy to share info if you are interested in exploring these areas. Hopefully the next trip will be soon!

 

Two Answers to the Same Question

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The question is, what is the right way of parenting? When you read about successful people one thing that all of them refer to is the kind of childhood they had. Either they had motivated parents who laid a solid foundation or they had abusive or divorced parents that made their childhood miserable and the sheer vigor to get out of it made them successful. One thing is common among both and that is they didn’t have an ordinary childhood like you and me. Parenting has direct affect on how much successful you will be in your life. So, I turned to books of various kinds. For me reading parenting books turned out to be like therapy. Its less about children and more about parents.

I recently finished Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua at rocketing speed in 4 days. This is the best I have done to a non-fiction book. Though by Amy Chua’s standards this might be a lousy effort. One of the reviewers has nailed her book correctly. Parent or not, lenient or strict, old school or modern everyone will have an opinion about this book. This is her story about how she raises her two daughters in a “Chinese way”. She follows an authoritarian style of parenting. She runs their affairs like a military camp preparing them for a war she calls their future. Rules are laid down crystal clear. No grades other than As, no sleepovers, no playdates, no boyfriends, no participation in school drama, they have to learn a musical instrument which can only be violin or piano, and finally they cannot complain about anything on this list. The list is pretty straight forward, no loop holes for rescue. You can’t do anything but submit to her. People who read her announced that she is a monster and said her children would resent her. Behind all this there is an uncomfortable truth. Her ways have rendered in my view the best her children could have accomplished at that point. She pushed them to maximize their potential. She believed in them and it didn’t matter if they believed in themselves or not. Being a Tiger Mom is not easy, it is heavy duty parenting. It is grueling, countless hours of nagging and cajoling can spin your head. She wouldn’t let anything come in between them and their practice. If sick then pop pill and practice, no time in the day then wake up at 5 and practice. They practice on holidays, weekends and heck, even when they are on vacation. This relentless pursuit to achieve perfection and an unwavering work ethic is what she wants to inculcate in her children.

Honestly, I was not even ready to buy this book, thought it would wrongly influence my opinion. Our approach of parenting is very conservative and closed. I don’t blame the parents (including myself) I think they are confused. I recently went to check out a school (of a different kind) for my daughter and spoke to few parents. They were happy that their kids are becoming independent day by day, but many of them confessed to want to have controlled independence.

I cannot but look back into my childhood. Being from an average middle class family, the only way to become successful in life was to get good grades in school. Pursue engineering or medicine and this was your ticket to elevating yourself up in the economic ladder. I studied well and was always in the top 5% of the class. But not well enough to ever top the class. Miraculously I always stood second or third. Thinking back I guess I never wanted to top. I was afraid. If I did too well the teachers would expect more and If I slacked then I will get noticed at home. So I simply stayed low and sailed through. Always got truck loads of sympathy, “Oh you nearly made it this time”, “you were just unlucky thats all”, etc. What I needed then was a mother like Amy Chua who would make me slog my back side. Instead my father would come and switch off my room’s light. “Enough of studying now”, “rest is best before the test”, he would announce and go away. I took pride in telling my friends about my father. Today I feel bad about it. I think he was not ambitious enough for me.

Now turn the bottle upside down. Sudbury Valley School in US is unlike any other school in the world. Its not just about a unique way of imparting education but its a way of life. There are no time tables and no teachers taking classes. The school looks like its in recess forever. Children are buzzing all around and doing their things. No one to disturb or direct them. A book about this school describes a kid who does fishing for 15 years only fishing, mind you! Every year his father would go to the administration and express his doubts. They told him to wait and watch. One fine day he found a new passion, computers. He never looked back at fishing and found an internship with HP and his career took off. Not that fishing is by any stretch of imagination a lesser meaningful thing. May be he could have become the greatest Ichthyologist of our generation and did some important discoveries in marine biology. Simply put, in this school kids just do their thing day in and day out for years till they are 19 when they graduate. Looking from outside it would seem like an easy and fun life if you are let free to do anything you like. But imagine you are doing this everyday. There is enough time for everything you want to do. Nobody to tell you how much to do, how to do or what to do. I bet it would be a very difficult. This is a place where you learn from getting bored. You are responsible for your life. You take charge of your own education. And when you start them young, they are exuberant and fearless. The intensity with which they pursue their passion is enormous. And it doesn’t matter what their passion is. Most of us don’t even know where our interests lie. We just stay low. Not questioning the prevailing norm has become our subconscious trait. Going with the flow is safer and easier because tiding against needs courage and is uncertain.

In the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell, he says that unless you have 10,000 hours of hard work under your belt you can’t be successful. Let’s say you want to be a concert pianist. Ten thousand hours roughly works out to be a little less than 10 years if you practice 3 hours everyday (including the weekends). It is also crucial that you start young. So unless you have a tiger mom you’d rather play video games or watch movies.

Finally, I don’t think there is a correct way of parenting. So, I don’t know yet what kind of mom I will be. Will I let her do soul searching for hours swinging under the tree? Or will I have a stop watch and a time table for her in my hands? The latter seems hard and cruel. But actually the former is the hardest. I think I will go for the hardest because I guess I am ambitious for her.