Retaining old charm of parks

I am relaxing on a stone bench at a mini-park near my home. The park, though less than an acre in size, has been renovated recently. The horticulture department has added a hut-like structure where two newspapers are kept daily.

About one-third of the park is ‘children’s gym’. There is no problem with senior citizens behaving like kids, but is it right for them to compete with the children for using this equipment? Between senior citizens and children, there is a regular exchange of words, too! Another intriguing sight is that of boys using grills and gates as gym equipment. They pull and push them only to lose their grip and fall down.

These days, we need to tolerate the clapping sounds in most parks. The park I’m referring to is no exception. In the beginning though, I thought people had started coming to parks wash their clothes! It was only later someone told me that it was a sort of exercise to make the heart stronger. The cardiologists should confirm this! 

Every time I see a few people walking backwards, I’m left stunned and sincerely doubting whether these health seekers would lose their balance if they walked forward. Of course, in this case, too, orthopaedics would probably have better answers.

When I visited the park for the first time two years ago, people were walking briskly making me wonder if a fire mishap or minor earthquake had occurred nearby. Later, I realised that this was a form of warm-up.

On any given day, at least 500 people come to this park to walk. But the park has few trees and plants and I wonder whether the amount of oxygen released by this flora is enough.

Considering how popular the park is, it is anybody’s guess that this green lung space was used to celebrate the neighbourhood’s New Year party. But here’s the problem: on January 1, 2019, the park was littered with paper plates and cups. Isn’t it safe then to say that 2019 started on a messy note?

As people are careless and take things for granted, I believe that parks should not be made too attractive. Two years ago, the same park was like a mini forest — full of sparrows, crows, pigeons, squirrels. Worms and insects were aplenty too. But now, their numbers are decreasing by the day. In the morning, people invade their space, and at night, the park is brightly illuminated.

Parks require regular cleaning, pruning and disposal of waste, but they should also retain natural mud paths, rocks, plants and trees native to the place or those that have stood there for years. Remains of dead trees should be integrated with the park as pieces of art.

‘Old is gold’ is especially true in the case of parks, and is a much-needed mantra to retain the old-world charm of ‘garden city’ Bengaluru.

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