Buried under Peddar Road Flyover….

The work of constructing a flyover on Peddar Road in Mumbai will commence today. This has high news value, mainly because of the protest made by Lata Mangeshkar among other high profile residents.

It is necessary to build a flyover there, but buried under it would be the first floor residence of the Mangeshkar sisters, Lata and Asha, as well as some fond old memories.

Opposite their residence ‘Prabhu Kunj’ and somewhere towards “Vellard View” a ‘Bhaiyya’ used to sell Bhel and Pani Puri when I was in college, that is, in late 60s and early 70s. I have often stood there eating Bhel and glancing at the Mangeshkar sisters’ residence to get a glimpse of them.

I never did, except on one day when a beggar was singing, almost standing under balcony of Asha Bhosale’s apartment, where a narrow street goes upwards. Asha Bhosle saw him, heard his song for a very short while from her balcony, and then sent her servant with some money for the beggar. I was surprised to witness this gesture. Every time I pass by Prabhu Kunj on Peddar Road, I remember this incident and Asha Bhosle’s appreciation of music, no matter who sings it.

All these memories will be buried under the flyover; more of Mangeshkar sisters’ than mine.

There are two other landmarks where I become nostalgic: When you travel from Powai Naka on LBS Marg (there used to be Herbertsons factory at this square, making Dipy’s jam) towards IIT, Powai, you will see a large Rain tree, completely dwarfed under the flyover and the road, the height of which has been raised by several meters. My class travelled from Powai Naka to Powai Lake on botany excursion. (You may not believe this, there was beautiful greenery all around Powai in early 70s!) We sat under this Rain tree and ate our breakfast. The memory of a nice botany excursion along with classmates is still fresh in my mind. Recorded on the Rain Tree are some very happy memories. But, when I see it buried under the flyover and the approach road, my heart bleeds. I feel a part of me has been completely buried.

I grew up as a child at the ‘Tata Power Colony’ situated on the old Mumbai-Pune road, at a place called ‘Saimal’, about 3 miles away from Khopoli town. Some of life’s most memorable moments have been spent there in the Ghats in the jungle around it, watching trucks and cars grudgingly climbing the ghats whining all the way. A few years ago, an express highway was built between Mumbai and Pune that takes another route and bypasses this old beautiful colony. The new highway takes us to Pune in two hours flat, but it doesn’t give me what I used to get while travelling on the old Bombay-Pune road.

This is the cost of development. Whether we like it or not, it is inevitable that change will happen and some landmarks on which our memories are etched will give way to the new development. We lose a part of ourselves in that, and Lata Mangeshkar and Asha Bhonsle are going to feel such a loss.

I will not join Lata Mangeshkar in her protest against building of the flyover, but I surely understand her loss.