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Island in the sun

The spirit of Ulsoor Lake needs to be awakened!
Last Updated : 04 January 2022, 23:00 IST
Last Updated : 04 January 2022, 23:00 IST

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In the '60s, Ulsoor Lake (Halasuru) was a familiar getaway. We were in our teens. My friends would rent a boat for about 50 paise per hour and spend half a day on one of the islands with picnic baskets and a guitar.

The boats were wooden, just about functional, with shaky rowlocks and oars, and would seat about six to eight persons. None of us knew how to row and would ‘goof’ our way around, sometimes in circles, till we reached the Horseshoe Island. The thought that we could capsize and drown never even entered our heads. Even when boats leaked, we would just bale out the water unperturbed. Life seemed so safe those days.

Once on the island, we would play games, enjoy a sing-song, scramble up the trees, eat our lunch, laze around and carry on those mild flirtations of teenage years.

The lake was clearer then because it was cleaner then! Come evening, we would return the boat and ride home, after a ‘one by two or four by six’ of coffee and dosa, at the lakeside restaurant. These are my happy memories of fun and exercise during '60s and '70s. Later, when we got involved in serious romances, many a proposal was ‘popped’ and a match ‘sealed’ while sitting by the lake on a moonlit night.

Even now I feel a thrill of nostalgia when I pass by Ulsoor Lake, though unfortunately, I happen upon sights that are not so pleasing to the eye. The lake still looks serene and beautiful, but only on the surface.

Not many years ago, a shoal of dead fish was found floating on the water. Gone is the blaze of Mayflower trees (Gulmohar) on the islands, so spectacularly in contrast to the green and blue hues of the lake and the abundant spring blooms on surrounding roads — Jacaranda, Acacia, Bohemia, Tabuebia heralding the April showers.

The children’s play area could do with more equipment and a facelift. The park benches too need to be made more comfortable and stable and the gardens more appealing. The restaurant is as primitive as ever but is the only recourse for hungry tourists. Taking a boat out on one’s own is not allowed anymore, nor is disembarking on the islands, I am told.

The spirit of Ulsoor Lake needs to be awakened!

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Published 04 January 2022, 19:14 IST

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