These gardens come alive at the break of dawn. While dog-owners proudly stroll with their four-legged friends, senior citizens force themselves to laugh in hope of better health.
A few teenagers play badminton while their parents walk around, chatting about film-star’s affairs, politician’s wealth and what not. A few of these walkers wave at each other with a smile and an occasional ‘Good morning’. Good Samaritans bring milk bags and glucose biscuits for the real keepers of the gardens — stray dogs.
The garden near VJTI sees young men doing push-ups and pull-ups. After Chak De released, one saw many hockey players but they’ve once again given away their share of the garden to numerous Sachins and Dhonis in the making. As the sun rises higher, the benches and railings get populated by young lovers hiding in each other’s arms. Even the police look the other way as innocent love blossoms in the scorching sun.
As the sun goes down, the fitness freaks re-emerge to burn calories, dogs come out to do their ‘business’ and youngsters come around to ‘hang out’. Aroma of ragda wafts in the air as the tinkle of the gola cart and the wail of the kulfiwala (fast diminishing!) falls on your ears. Cars go around with blaring music while some children enjoy a horse ride around the biggest of the gardens.
Whether rich or poor, old or young, human or canine, everyone comes to these gardens to be themselves. The gardens let every one lie in their lap, cry on their shoulder. These gardens watch people grow.
I grew up in these gardens, nourished by golas and sevpuri. The first time I felt like a big sister was when my baby sister clutched my arm during a carousel ride in Dadar Parsi Colony’s five gardens. Even today, I walk there every morning, revisiting little joyous memories tucked away in every corner. In a city that hardly let’s you pause, I am grateful for this haven.
Originally published in DNA on March 3, 2011