Friday 26 February 2016

How Green! ..... but for how long?

How Green ! ...... but, for how long? 

An Urban Dilemma. 

How Green IS My Valley ! No, there is no error or grammatical mistake. It is very much a present day situation. However, in the near future it indeed may turn into past tense. 

These images are the views from our balcony and window.

This is not some far-off, out of the city, place. It is right in Mumbai city, within walking distance from a huge mall. Difficult to believe? But it is true.

Whenever people call Mumbai a concrete jungle, I beg to differ. I wish they could visit our little corner in the city. Yes, I do fully agree that what they say is true for most part of this metropolis. I guess I have been lucky -- to have always been surrounded by greenery.

Even during my childhood, we used to live in a quiet Mumbai suburb (which is no more quiet, nor green) surrounded by coconut, mango, neem, jack-fruit, moringa (drum-sticks) trees. It wasn't much different from village life - with city amenities.
We could boast of things like throwing stones to get raw mangoes or tying long rope swings to the neem tree .... in the same way as people talk about their native place memories. The things did change over the years and the big trees were cut down one by one.

The area where I live now, had a rule that each housing complex had to leave open space of certain area proportionate to their built-up area. So this ensured sufficient play area for the children, space for garden etc. Most of the housing societies planted big shadowy trees around and over the years they have grown to spread their green umbrella all around.

Ayurveda emphasises the importance of Neem tree. It is well-incorporated even in our gastronomical culture. In most of the Indian states, the Hindu new year (Gudi Padwa or Ugadi) commences with juice of Neem leaves. The breeze flowing through the Neem is considered as the purest possible air. So isn't it great that the gently undulating, soft green Neem leaves are within a hand's reach from the balcony?

Next to that is an equally huge Almond tree, resplendent with its wide leaves. These two trees, along with some smaller ones like guava etc., completely fill the front view.

It is not only the greenery, these trees attract such varied types of birds, butterflies, even squirrels. (More so around the Almond tree, but this badam tree deserves a separate post by itself). The usual fauna of sparrows, crows and pigeons is of course a-plenty, but here even parrots reside in equal number. Then there are bulbuls, mynahs, egrets, tiny thrush .... and many more which I cannot recognise ...... need Dr. Salim Ali's help here.

On the other side, rows of Gulmohur trees along the boundary wall spread their green, yellow and red magic, according to the season. The green compound leaves move in gentle waves with the breeze; in fall when it is time to shed the leaves, the trees sprinkle their gold treasure, just like a golden carpet, on the earth below. And during summer, the Gulmohur looses all its green and yellow, and blazes up in a magnificent red fire!

Look how the soft leaf is reaching out, as if to say Hello!

But don't they say, all the good things have to come to an end?
This locality and all its buildings are growing old. A new solution has come forth in the form of Re-development of the buildings.

Ask anyone, they'll say it is a boon in today's time. A brand new house, new construction with all state-of-art amenities. Not only that, bonus of an additional FSI.
In this age of inflation, a bigger, better and new house -- at no extra cost! Who wouldn't want it?

    Another angle from the same balcony - new construction towering over the coconut and       betel-nut fronds.

Already the surrounding old housing societies are being converted into high-rise towers. However, nothing comes free and everything has a price. So the bigger, better houses come at the cost of the greenery, the chirping .....the Nature!

But if people are going to get so many benefits (without spending a dime), then who would bother about some silly trees and their greenery? In today's age, material things rank high, much higher than something called Nature!
There is a flip side to it -- because of the worsening conditions of these buildings, re-development is not just luxury, but a necessity, too.

It may sound like, having your cake and eating it too. But couldn't there be a possible via-media, where a new construction could be developed without destroying the nature around?


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