Rain invokes nostalgia that has the goodness of a cup of sweet ginger tea. When I get Nostalgic on rainy days, my mind always goes to my archive of ‘Fine Days’. Days that were so perfect that I would want to be Bill Murray from Groundhogs day and relive them over and over. A lot of these fine days were memories that I built while I walked round and round Shivaji Park in Mumbai/Bombay. The park has recently been renamed to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Park.
It’s not just another maidan, it has legendary value.For those unaware, Shivaji Park is a maidan which reared cricketing greats like Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar, Ajit Wadekar. At first glance you would be struck by the giantness of this ground with its 1.1 km perimeter. It’s unimaginable that an empty plot of land, the size of 4 average sized maidan, could dare to take up so much real estate in the middle of a ridiculously expensive city like Bombay where a one-arm distance is impossible and balconies a fable. Every morning, crowds descend on these grounds for morning walks, Zumba classes, cricket practice, Laughter Yoga and general merriment. All this before the city and its humidity consumes everyone.
When I walk here, I always wonder what it would be like to live in one of the houses dotting the perimeter of the park. These homes look like they were built in the 1940s with a level added every 25 years to make space for a new generation. Most of these houses are 4 storey homes with small terraces overlooking the park.
Last year, after spending a beautiful hour strolling around the park, I walked past an old quaint house with dusty blue windows that had seen the rains of at least 50 bygone Mumbai monsoons. I heard singing. By the sound of it, it was an old gentleman belting a taan to a tabla and a sitar. I found this beautiful video on youtube that comes close to what I heard that day. I remember as i stood under the window that day, I was so consumed by the music that I knew that at that very moment I was making a memory that I would keep going back to for years to come.It was one of those truly fine days.
As newly weds, somewhere along this promenade, my husband and I built many memories. We even played one-on-one football which mostly ended badly with me elbowing him and fouling massively.
I always wonder if the residents living in these delightfully old quarters realize just how lucky they are to wake up to this view and noise (of children playing cricket) everyday? I hope that someday I can share this view.. someday..