Harita Fellow Stories: People and the Park

Harita – The Green Footprint Fellowship is a project spearheaded by Project Mumbai in collaboration with the Ministry of Mumbai’s Magic with the support of MCGM. 

The objective  for the fellowship is to build capacity and skills among citizens to build a green community of youth caretakers. To engage the young Mumbaikar and create green ambassadors for our neighbourhood and city by large and through citizen and institution engagement for adopting a long-term association garden across 24 wards of Mumbai. This 3-month fellowship provided an opportunity for youth fellows to become future urban sustainability champions and contribute towards building a green and habitable city for all.

An observation piece on people at the parks. It sheds light on the fact that even though people at every park are different, they have certain similar characteristics, which makes the park’s essence what it is.

After more than a year spent within the four walls of my room, I finally got a reason to go outside again. I had recently graduated when I came across this opportunity by Project Mumbai to go and document the parks of Mumbai. I practically jumped at this opportunity and why wouldn’t I? I finally get to physically meet people (while maintaining a social distance of course), talk to them, go visit gardens, and actually get involved in a process of bringing change. My sister and I, we both signed up for this fellowship.

I have lived in Mumbai all my life. I know this city like I know my family and my friends. Mumbai, for me, isn’t just a location on the map, it’s an entire person with its own emotions and personality. I went to the parks knowing I would experience not just the space, but a vibe. I visited 3 parks in a day and it reminded me of how much and why I love this city and its people.

Every park has a story in each corner playing its track simultaneously and forming its very own harmony. There are multiple stories that the people visiting these parks witness and are a part of that take place within those 2000 sq meters. There are kids playing cricket in a corner fighting over who is going to bat next, completely unaware of what life has in store for them, there is a group of housewives trying to vent about their previous days and somehow getting recharged to start their day that they will be complaining about the next day, there is a group of old men at the laughing club laughing because they realize how awesome life is and probably mocking the younger generation for worrying too much, there are fitness enthusiasts furiously working out and thinking of how they are winning at life by staying healthy or maybe how they can now afford to have a slice of pizza today, there are the yogis in a corner meditating their problems away by just taking a deep breath and on very rare days there are two tiny females with a measuring tape going around asking people to fill a feedback form.

There are multiple universes that exist within these parks. Stories may vary, but the characters remain the same throughout. The parks in Mumbai have a life of their own. These people make these parks what they are. Without them, it’s just an empty space, void of life. These people take an hour or two out of their lives every day to visit these parks and they care about it as they care for their own homes. It is an essential part of Mr. Mehta’s life whose family is no longer staying with him but he forgets his problems when he meets his group of friends, it is an integral part of Viraj’s day who leaves his phone at home to play cricket with his friends and forget about the virtual world, it is an important part of Mrs. Shah’s life who wants to walk and listen to music and chat with her friends. These parks were built for a purpose and these people are the purpose making the people and park go hand in hand.

With these thoughts and observations, I came back home with a smile on my face for having witnessed the true essence of Mumbai and its parks, the people.

Krina Kanabar

Krina Kanabar

Krina is a Harita Fellow. Harita - The Green Footprint Fellowship was a 3 month long fellowship opportunity for urban sustainability champions in Mumbai to contribute towards building a green and liveable city for all.