I often found myself complaining about the limited number of open, green and cost free spaces in Bombay to just go and hang out at. Going out essentially meant either to a mall, a movie theatre, a restaurant or a coffee shop. All these spaces not only need one to shell out insane amounts of money, but also limit the experience to concrete walls and a predefined unfolding of events.
When I read the book ‘Why loiter?’ that spoke about public spaces that were free/open and accessible to all, they warned the reader to not include malls, movie theatres, restaurants and coffee shops, which are essentially privately owned spaces that pose as public spaces. Public spaces, in the purist sense, mean public parks that preferably do not have an entry fee, train and bus stops and depots, beaches, roads, pavements etc. These spaces did seem risky at first, but when I started loitering in such spaces, more often than not, I felt calm, happy, fulfilled and replenished.
Why loiter? Is a movement where we explore public spaces in the city and loiter there as a group of women. Not only do we make new friends through the movement, but also discover a plethora of green, open and cost free spaces that are open to all and worth spending a beautiful evening at.
There is a lovely park diagonally opposite the Costa Coffee at Versova, right opposite the Nana Nani park. The grass feels so good and the blooming trees and shrubs make this park worth spending a quiet afternoon with a good book and some music. Right outside is an idli dosa counter which easily offers the best sada dosa I have eaten in the city. Here are some images from our loitering session in the park.
The public park opposite the Costa Coffee at Versova. (Don’t confuse it with the Nana Nani park which is on the opposite side)
The following week we visited another park, the Swatantrata Sainani BMC park in the Versova/Yaari road area. It is opposite the Fisheries Institute on the Versova back road/Fisheries lane. You can’t miss this one because there is an area dedicated to swings, slides and jungle gym for children as soon as you enter.
This park is beautifully designed, with little sheds, a badminton court, a jogging track, and a generous lawn to just laze around in. We loved it so much that we have revisited it several times. Each time the experience has been new and rejuvenating.
Here are some images
We recently explore the Kaifi Azmi Park opposite Amitabh Bachchan’s old bunglow. Though it doesn’t have grassy lawns, the flora is splendid and the pathways are delicately decorated with purple mosaic. There are tin sheds with a seating capacity of almost 50-60 people, perfect to have little play readings, music jamming sessions or picnics.
Here are some images
At the Kaifi Azmi park, Juhu
Another beautiful public park we explored is the Fort Garden at Bandra Bandstand, near Taj Lands End. It is large, layered and filled with interesting stairways, variety of plants, trees and shrubs, provides a spectacular view of the sea. There is also an amphitheatre in the garden where groups perform music/dance/theatre.
At the fort garden, Bandra Bandstand.
There are many other green, clean beautiful spaces we have loitered at, but for now, I insist you visit these four spaces I have talked about and shown you images of.
Loitering has helped me gain more love and admiration for this city, that not only provides me the freedom to live my life as I like to, but also has helped me understand that Bombay is not just about traffic jams, cluttered housing societies and flooded roads in the monsoons, but also open, lush, peaceful, public parks that are inviting me with the possibility of experiences that are not pre-determined.