As a contemporary urban Indian used to living in concrete jungles spewing toxic fumes, I would like to lay claim to this forest as my discovery. Has anyone seen a forest in a city any time in the recent years? No, unless of course you travel to some undeveloped land far far away.
As I moved house recently from a densely populated bursting-at-the-seams Rajbhavan Road to the supposedly elitist financial hub Gachibowli, I had no idea what was about to hit me, and pleasantly so. For me, it was just another boring move, sorting, discarding, packing, and moving. Something I have done several times over the years.
A week after I moved into my new apartment, on a mid-morning stroll around the block checking the amenities, I noticed a cluster of trees beyond the joggers track. As I moved closer, the view simply stunned me. A little forest thrived beyond the compounds of this beautifully landscaped residential complex.
Trees, rustling bustling green leaves swaying to the gentle winter morning wind. The view of lush green trees flourishing in the wild, flowering trees and bushes, the sound of tiny colorful chirping birds, call of the peacocks, rare sight of common butterflies, was therapeutic. Squirrels, one I hadn’t seen in a long long time. In one of its rare sightings, a herd of Spotted Deer once strayed into the thickets. It was a moment of pride for the residents to be living in such divine environs. To commemorate ‘World Sparrow Day’ on March 20th the residents had installed bird nest boxes to attract the endangered sparrows. For me, it was indeed a pleasure to be sharing living space with such kind and concerned citizens who took initiatives for conservation of plant and animal life.
Huge boulders of stunning ancient rocks, perched precariously over each other, dominating the scenery. These little pleasures of life, right behind my abode, I could cherish each day. Unbelievable.
Bubbling with childlike excitement I ventured to explore the area as if trying to find a buried pot of gold, to find my treasure trove. Voila! A little water body to the front of the block as I stood watching, eyes wide in amazement. Wild grass grew all around it. It is neither a pond nor a lake, just a huge patch of vacant, low lying land which has collected rainwater over the years. Several species of common birds find sanctuary around this water body, which also contributes to the cool evening breeze.
The forest is active and lively during the day and shrill with the stridulations of cricket at night. Greedy for more. I wish I could plant my childhood trees all around. I have always missed the reassuring coolness of the centenary trees; the Peepals, the Banyans and the Neems. My childhood stories were woven around these dense trees. “Once upon a time, there lived Appu the elephant under a giant banyan tree in the forest”; “The sparrow lived in her nest on the peepal tree” or the granny’s insistent use of neem.
I admit, calling it a Forest is somewhat over-rated. Am simply overwhelmed at such thriving greenery around me. It is a huge patch of land which has escaped the eyes of the land sharks, hence, retaining its natural beauty. Once upon a time, this land was indeed a forest, though much of it has been swallowed in the name of development.
As I wandered around my new found paradise, I wondered, why does mankind destroy to build. Development and growth does not mean destruction of natural resources. There are several other natural lakes around this part of town which are buckling under the stress of development. The greens, the water resources, the hills and mountains and all living and non-living beings have a purpose on earth.
I dread the day we ‘develop’ this area to suit our growing needs. But for now, this is my hub, my hang-out, where I find peace with myself, morning and evening breathing in the beautiful freshness of nature.