The Train Park

Almost in line with the Muktananda Peace Park, about 500 metres to the south, is the Rotary park (Santa Cruz, Mumbai). For some reason I’m unaware of, it’s also known as the Rajesh Khanna park — perhaps the famous filmstar of old inaugurated the park, or maybe he contributed towards its upkeep in the late sixties or early seventies when he was at the peak of his career. I remember seeing him in Anand – one of my all-time-favourite movies, I can watch it again and again and never tire of it: laughing, crying and getting those goose bumps every single time when the audio tape suddenly comes to life at the end (that clip now available on YouTube at this link). Also remember seeing Haathi Mere Saathi and Bawarchi — thoroughly enjoyable movies, as I vaguely recollect, though I’ve long since forgotten the plots. In fact back then, being taken for any movie was a super treat.

Toy Train

The main attraction at the Rotary park, for kids at least, is the toy train that goes around the periphery of the park on a track that goes over a bridge and under a tunnel during its 300-metre (or so) journey that it chugs along at a pace even slower than what I do (now that’s really slow!). It’s pretty fascinating to see the look of awe and glee on the faces of the first-timers, although a few just can’t handle the pressure of a journey into the unknown and bawl their way right through. Kids really have it good, generally. There are so many new experiences, so many adventures, so many things to do for the first time. And then over the years, for all of us it’s often a matter of ‘yeah, yeah, been there, done that’. We get jaded into submission, succumb to the routine, and go about our lives in miserable drudgery. Whatever happens to that spark?

So when’s the last time you did something new? Of course I’m hardly suggesting that everything we do isn’t fun just because we’ve done it before — there are many many things I will continue to enjoy immensely no matter how often I do them (like solving word puzzles, for instance). But I do believe that the special joy associated with discovery need not be restricted to kids alone. While I’d leave the jumping off cliffs/bridges/planes to the crazy loonies, I’m still determined to do something entirely new every month (and write about it too, hopefully).

Enough rambling now, let’s get back to walking. Unlike Muktananda, which is free, the Rotary park has an entry fee of one rupee. The modest fees apparently help in the maintenance of the park and also go towards the salaries of the security guards, who are employed mainly to be given the run-around by urchin kids who jump the fence and find every possible means to get in gratis.

Rotary Park, Santa Cruz, Mumbai (click any pic for larger image or slideshow)
100 for 100: Walking in Rotary Park, Santa Cruz, Mumbai

Oasis in the Concrete Jungle

100 for 100: Walking in Rotary Park, Santa Cruz, Mumbai

Who Needs Balls?

100 for 100: Walking in Rotary Park, Santa Cruz, Mumbai

Tree’s Company

100 for 100: Walking in Rotary Park, Santa Cruz, Mumbai

Putting on an Act

100 for 100: Walking in Rotary Park, Santa Cruz, Mumbai

Look Ma, No Hands!

100 for 100: Walking in Rotary Park, Santa Cruz, Mumbai

Hang Loose

100 for 100: Walking in Rotary Park, Santa Cruz, Mumbai

Chattanooga Choo Choo

100 for 100: Walking in Rotary Park, Santa Cruz, Mumbai

I Win, Slow Coach!

100 for 100: Walking in Rotary Park, Santa Cruz, Mumbai

Just Chill

The walking track runs alongside the rail track for much of the way, and one round is about 300 metres. An important feature is the incline leading up and down over the “bridge”, that makes for a pretty good workout if the pace is brisk. One irritation is that it’s overall quite a narrow track, often being blocked by ambling fat ladies walking in pairs or even trios – inconsiderate pests, they could as easily instead use the much broader walkways within the lawns of the park.

Child’s Play

There’s quite a big area at one end with the usual park apparatus for children to play on, plus a series of exercise bars, which I’m sure have been the cause of innumerable cases of hernia. And since balls and bats and such like are not permitted in the park, it’s amusing to see the kids invent ingenious games, improvising on the equipment, much to the annoyance of the guards — who are just hell bent on spoiling the kids’ fun, no matter that no one else seems to mind.

The gardeners here do a great job of maintaining the foliage in super condition despite the roughing up the hedges and plants have to suffer at the hands (and legs) of boisterous, hyperactive kids dashing all over the place oblivious to mere botanical obstacles in their path.

Lots of beautiful trees in this park, but shamefully, I can barely name a couple.  Guess I should have paid more attention on the botanical field trips we did in college. But actually, my desire to be able to identify all sorts of tree has been much more recent. I know that on my next trip to Goa I’m going to pay a longer visit to the Thomas Stephens Konknni Kendr in Porvorim. They have a massive botanical garden on campus, with a sample of just about every fruit tree and flowering plant that’s local to Goa grown in it. Everything is labeled with local name, English name and botanical name. For starters, check out the TSKK site’s botanical section, clicking on the individual images for delightful enlargements. (Oh my Clerodendrum thomsonae!)

To wrap up, here’s the satellite map of the Rotary Park at 17th Road, Santa Cruz, Mumbai. (Click the pic to go to the actual, manoeuvrable map on Wikimapia.

Satellite map of the Rotary Park in Santa Cruz, Mumbai

- Val Souza

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