chillibreeze writer — Gayathri Thakoor
Circa 1988. Powai, a small green dot in the Bhandup suburb of Mumbai, was known for just a couple of things: the prestigious IIT campus and the tranquil Powai lake! And add a dash of hills, dense bushes and pasture land, and lo! That was a jungle called `Powai’!
If someone chanced to live there, he would get scoffed at. For he would probably be one rare specimen who had to settle for a run-down shack, in a prefer-to-forget corner of a much-crowded city!
Its 20 years since. The age-old characteristics are still there_ the sprawling IIT campus but the not-so tranquil Powai lake now. And what I see near these must be seen to be believed. Gone are the dense jungles and the hillocks!
Welcome to Hiranandani Gardens, Powai!
Sky-high buildings competing with each other to touch space, well-manicured gardens, restaurants, hospitals, swanky cars, well-planned roads, and what have you! And what really catches my eye is the kind of crowd that this place now boasts of! The most fashionable crowd is seen here. Even a toddler wears clothes
that make a statement! Well, well, isn’t it a pleasure to not look too far for some real eye-candy!
Absolutely far from the madding crowd, would be just the thing to say about this `satellite township’, so to speak. What I see here is completely different from the sweaty, tired, teary and fast-paced Mumbaiite, just 2 kilometres away. Everything is cooler, calmer, `A.C’d’; believe me, we, those living here, look much more beautiful and handsome. Oh, yes it is a far cry from the rest of the Mumbai populace!
So, what is it that makes this pocket which is located right in the middle of an otherwise polluted city, hold its head high?
Kirti Desai, a friend, an entrepreneur and a neighbor in Hiranandani Gardens, Powai, for the past 11 years, vouches, “There is not a single facility that this place lacks. Everything from the best of schools, offices and stores to gymnasiums, eating joints and supermarkets, are here for us. There is no need for us to get out of this place for anything. Such is the effort of the Hiranandanis, in building this place up.”
Most of them who live here, have similar things to say. `With meticulous and systematic planning, it has grown from a nowhere-heard of strip of land to a much-envied segment of Mumbai’,. And yes, for the `outsider’, we belong to the elite, the relatively creamier pack of an up-market Mumbai.
All seems sunny and beautiful. Festive times are a sight to see. With all the buildings- office and residential, lit up so decoratively, it is such a treat to belong here. And if your house overlooks the Powai lake, like mine does, sipping your morning tea can be, oh so, blissful! Sounds too good to be true, right!
Well, I can be blindly in love with this place if I want to, but it’s not such a good idea. This place can hit rock bottom too.
Look at the traffic jams on these roads nowadays! Blame it on the umpteen call centres that have mushroomed here, that spit forth so many thousands of employees. Or else, rest it on the ambitious Jogeshwari-Vikhroli-Link-Road (JVLR), that has been uprooting shops, trees, building compounds and now threatens to eat up part of the IIT boundary! The road has been crying for space for four years now and consequently, so has the ongoing traffic.
The Powai lake is disappearing, they say, thanks to the construction work here and the pollution. The hills here are being eroded in an unauthorized manner, argue environmentalists. Real estate prices are hitting the roof. An uneasy rebellion is rising amongst the school-goers, as the clink of too much money in their pockets seems to point them the unethical way!
Need I say more? Well, this is the kind of conflict that is there in every growing state. All said and written, Hiranandani Gardens at Powai, has been a landmark development for the Mumbai city. Never mind, the little discrepancies, I can proudly say that this place is but a model haven for the urban Indian!
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