I Weep for Aarey Colony of Mumbai
Aarey Colony. Goregaon East. Jaiprakash Nagar-Where I grew up. From our chawl, we could see the hills and the lights. It was our ‘backyard’.
 
Aarey Colony was a go to place when we had visitors from our ‘native’ place. To show them the bottling plant of Aarey. It was open to the public and it would be a full day picnic. From Goregaon East, we took a BEST bus and it wound its way through the forests (starting from a ‘check naka’, which still exists I guess) and passing mango trees and other trees, a few stray people walking, past the ‘observation post’ called OP or “Chhota Kashmir” and on to the Dairy Farm.  Join the queue there, go through the plant and then come out. There was a stall selling ‘flavoured’ milk (much later, it was branded as “Energee”) and each one would savour the taste for long. Rose, pista were the early flavours and other flavours were introduced much later.  
 
After the swig of cold flavoured milk, we would take a bus back and get down en route at “OP”.  Walk up the steep road to the garden, play there and finish the food that we had packed from home. There was no plastic to dispose. Everything was brought in steel or aluminum vessles and carefully put back in to the nylon wire-net bag that was woven by mother.  There was a tap dispensing cold water and we had our fill. Chased each other round the garden and those who had money would buy some peanuts or bhel from the vendor. But the cold water was free. 
 
After spending some time there, it was time to get back. Walk down, wait at the bus stop and take a bus back to Goregaon station. 
 
There was also the “PICNIC SPOT” beyond OP and before Aarey Colony that has vast open grounds, had swings, merry go rounds and other playing things for the children. 
 
 
Very often, schools in Goregaon would take children for a full day picnic to that place. It has some wonderful old trees, some banyan trees and a water body that was close by. The fun of the picnic was the open spaces to run about, the trees to climb and the food that was a treat. Teachers would mix “Bhel” and some rich kids would try to sneak to an ice cream shop that was housed in the “aarey market”. It would be bhel, ‘patti samosas’ and lemon juice.  And we would go home with our clothes colored in the red clay of the parks. 
 
There was a building at the highest point, that was called ‘New Zealand Hostel”. I recall that the Govt of New Zealand had been generous in putting together the dairy farming and there was a college up there. 
 
 
At night, from our chawl near the station, we could see the clock face of the New Zealand Hostel, which was at least a distance of four to five kms as the crow flies. The air was pure and there was nothing. There were clusters of ‘tabelas’ which were labelled as ‘units’. Unit number five, unit number seven etc.  And there was a quaint fire brigade station inside, with a water body close by. The entire place was an escape from the yet to be crowded city.
 
 
On the Western Express Highway after we crossed from the Seminary on Aarey road, there was the check naka. To the left of the check naka, there was the “CIBA Research Centre”. 
 
There used to be one bus route that would go through Aarey Colony and beyond. It was route not 341 (I think it still runs) from Goregaon East to Sion bus depot and back. For the longest period, I recall that the ‘full’ ticket for a trip from Goregaon to Sion was 45 paise! And to Aarey Colony, it was 20 paise.  Apart from that, there was 342 and 343, which would go up to Aarey/New Zealand Hostel only. Private vehicles were a rarity and cabs would not go through that property. Auto rickshaws were not yet born.
 
OP was a location liked by our Bollywood. Quite a few films had some songs picturised there. That gave birth to the name, “Chhota Kashmir”. Poor man’s Kashmir. With bright sunshine.
 
To get your supply of Aarey Milk, you had to have a permit (a metal card embossed with the name of the ‘head of the household’ and the quota were mentioned in it). You had a steel wire carrier, to which the card was tied by a locking wire. You got milk in glass bottles. 
 
So you carried your empty bottles, paid money for the milk (recall price of 85 paise for the ‘blue cap” and 52 paise for the ‘white’ cap bottle of 500 ml). The blue was ‘whole’ milk and the white was ‘toned’ milk. 
 
Come rain, come shine, you went to the milk booth every day (I recall timings of between 1230pm and 2pm) and got your quota of milk. This price was in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Private dairy milk was around twice this price, but would be delivered before 6am at home. Goreagan still had a few ‘tabelas’ (stables), which were within the city and outside of Aarey Colony.
 
Sometimes, a few of us would hire bicycles and cycle up to OP, have a swig of water at the tap at the top and come back. Twenty to thirty minutes of furious pedaling. Around 5 kms each way. And on the climb from the base of OP to the tap, it was pushing the cycles. And coming down was one scream as we did our stunts of ‘hand free’ and what not. Those were joyous times. 
 
During our later school and college years and also the early years of working, a few of us would walk after dinner in to Aarey colony. Cross the check naka, go in a few hundred meters, talk what young boys of that age would talk, sneak in a cigarette and walk back home. It used to get cool in the nights and Aarey was a part of our life. Green and refreshing. 
 
 
On a few adventurous days, we would go in to the side roads (there were a few pathways from the Western Express Highway in to Aarey Colony) We were the locals and experts. We would go in, ‘steal’ some raw mangoes in season and generally spend time walking and talking. Aarey was very much part of our lives.
 
As we grew older, the politicians have grown bolder and the builders’ mafia has got in. Gokuldham did not exist as open space. It was forests. That was the first encroachment. And since then, it is only encroachment.
 
 
I weep for the children of tomorrow who will never know this green belt named Aarey. As politicians give away to builders what is our children’s, I know that the move is in place to make sure that no leaf of grass will remain over time. 
 
We will have ugly buildings and unhealthy children coughing away in them. In a way, I am glad that I left Goregaon in the mid-eighties. Gokuldham was the first blot. And now the ball is in motion for more and more encroachment. Allowing private vehicles to pass through Aarey Colony was another sad development. It is sad what our politicians can do for a few rupees.

 

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COMMENTS

Makarand Joshi

2 months ago

Capital & big cities in many countries, have huge green covers as lungs & absorb pollution & hold basic air Q. With diminishing Aarey & Yeur, we are leaving concrete jungle legacy to next generation. Only more tree planting can hold it from worsening further.

Sachin Purohit

3 months ago

Invariably, nostalgia brings tears to the eyes of a Mumbaikar who has experienced the 60s, 70s or even 80s of this city. As an exercise, I always take a journey down the memory lane by youtubing on the old hindi film songs that had the charming old Mumbai in the scene. The roads were so neat, the parks were so full of innocent kids, Powai was so green. We have lost the Bombay that we had to a Mumbai that is one hell of a big concrete jungle and it is only expanding by the day.

Aadesh Sikchi

3 months ago

It's really an eye-opener. We can give wealth, education love to our children but for that, they need to exist and for existence, you need PURE AIR.
Plant 1000 trees for those SELFIES and PHOTOS but, just save that ONE EXISTING tree to give an EXISTENCE to you near dear ones!.becoz Breathing and Breathlessness, the separation is a thin line called LIFE & you cannot buy pure AIR!
AADESH
9769 224966

Rohit P Chitre

3 months ago

Very good story.

Rohit P Chitre

3 months ago

OP did not allow eating inside. You must have este before entering the garden

VIVEK SHAH

3 months ago

Truly a walk down the memory lane. Give me one name who has grown up and schooled in Bombay and has gone for a school picnic to Aarey. Sadly, it's the politician -builder nexus which has completely ruined the serenity.

Sudhir Kunder

3 months ago

There are encroachment widely done by the thugs, builders, politicians. The main notorious goonda is the Mohammed Nency, of the Royal Palm having encroached the huge area partnered with National Congress Party. People have turned deaf ears and elect the same politicians for the sake of one day biryani and a bottle of cheap whisky.

tanay

3 months ago

How does one stop these wicked disgusting people?

REPLY

Sachin Purohit

In Reply to tanay 3 months ago

The sad and dark reality is that there is no stopping. The system is too powerful as against even unity of a few good men and women coming together.

Meenal Mamdani

In Reply to tanay 3 months ago

Unfortunately one needs a lot of time, legal expertise and of course money to haul the corrupt babus who connive with the corrupt pols who encroach on public land.
Indian professionals have a mandatory retirement age of 58 or 60 years. That is when they are at their peak, being well versed in their professional fields. What do these eminent worthies do with their time? They should participate in activities that will use these skills to hold these corrupt men to account.

S A Narayan

3 months ago

A good trip down memory lane. So many parts of old Bombay have been destroyed by so called 'development'. Good photographs too!

N Ganesan

3 months ago

Very nostalgic.

SC junks pleas seeking court-monitored probe into Rafale deal
The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed four petitions seeking court-monitored probe into the purchase of 36 Rafale jet fighters in ready to fly conditions holding that the decision making process was not in doubt and it cannot go into the question of pricing and choice of offset Indian partner by the French aircraft manufacturer Dassault.
 
Referring to their interaction with senior air force officers and the material placed before it, a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sanjay Krishan Kaul and Justice K.M. Joseph said: "We are satisfied there is no occasion to doubt the decision-making process." 
 
Saying that the perception of individuals cannot be the basis of interfering with the deal, Gogoi pronouncing the judgment said that the deal was inked on September 23, 2016 but nothing was called into question till former French President Francois Hollande in an interview alleged pressures from Indian government on the choice of offset partner. 
 
Observing that India can't afford to be unprepared in the skies, the court said that the need for the aircraft, and the quality of the aircraft was not in doubt, and "We can't sit on the wisdom...".
 
Saying that it can't go into each aspect of the process of acquisition of the aircrafts, the court said that the earlier deal was taking long and was not concluding. 
 
On the choice of offset Indian partner, the court said that the role of Indian government cannot be envisaged as it was entirely for the vendor Dassault to make a choice. 
 
The apex court said that there was no evidence of commercial favouratism by the government.
 
The Centre had earlier defended the deal while admitting that there was "no sovereign guarantee from France, but there is a letter of comfort..."
 
The petitions seeking the probe were filed by Prashant Bhushan, Arun Shourie, former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha, advocates M.L. Sharma and Vineet Dhanda, and Aam Aadmi Party lawmaker in Parliament Sanjay Singh.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.
 

 

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COMMENTS

Chandragupta Acharya

3 months ago

A scathing judgement. Almost every point of the petitioners is dismissed and every point of the government is upheld.

Petrol prices increase after 2 months
After declining for nearly two months, petrol prices rose marginally on Thursday across three of the four metro cities in the country.
 
The increase comes after the prices of the fuel declined over 15 per cent in the last two months from the highs recorded in mid-October.
 
In Delhi, petrol was priced at Rs 70.29 per litre, up from Rs 70.20 recorded on Wednesday, according to data on the Indian Oil Corp's website.
 
The cost of petrol increased by 11 paise and 13 paise in Mumbai and Chennai respectively from Wednesday's levels, to Rs 75.91 and Rs 72.94 per litre.
 
However, in Kolkata, petrol price dropped 90 paise to Rs 72.38, from Rs 73.28 recorded on Wednesday.
 
Prices of diesel were unchanged for the second consecutive day in three out of the four metro cities.
 
In Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai, diesel was sold at unchanged prices of Rs 64.66, Rs 67.66 and Rs 68.26, respectively. Meanwhile, in Kolkata the price of diesel fell by Re 1 to Rs 66.40 per litre.
 
Diesel prices too have declined nearly 15 per cent from the record high levels reached in mid-October.
 
The rate hike comes amidst stability in crude oil prices as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia last week decided to reduce supply by 1.2 million barrels per day after the continuous fall in oil prices for around two months.
 
On Thursday, the Brent crude oil futures were around $60.35 per barrel.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

 

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