Ever since the formation of our new state and government, we have been seeing announcements in newspapers about proposed changes in the structures and spaces in Hyderabad.
1. Indira Park to be used for Ganesh visarjan: Immediately after Ganesh festival came this announcement. The news report said, "The Chief Minister, K. Chandrasekhar Rao on Wednesday suggested developing an alternative water body ‘Vinayaka Sagar’ at Indira Park for immersion of idols to protect Hussainsagar lake from the perils of pollution".
I froze when I read this, and went into a pall of worry and gloom, because I know that if this is done, our beautiful Indira Park would be destroyed in an hour. The visual of the multitudes of Ganesh-pandaga-revelers entering the park in their frenzy drove me into a depression.
2. Sky scrapers along Necklace Road. The next news to hit us came in November 2014, and was about how the new government planned to build sky scrapers along the Necklace Road. As I read this news, my trepidation gave way to alarm, and I wondered which place in India I should quickly migrate to. It was just at that time that we had won a 12-year battle against the garbage menace outside our house. I felt that now I had another issue on hand, and life felt tiring.
Then I read this article by the architect Shankar Narayan, where he gave architectural reasons why such constructions were not advisable, and concluded saying, "Tank Bund/Necklace Road stretch is a place for relaxation for all of Hyderabad’s citizens. It is one on the few public spaces that is truly open – i.e. not fenced in and not ticketed. Constructing skyscrapers here will destroy the unique character of this centre piece of our city." It was a voice of professional and rational protest, and made me feel that there were others who were concerned, and that perhaps they would not let the sky scrapers come up.
3. World's biggest tower in Sanjeeviah Park: This was the next story, and my alarm turned to panic. It is only when you walk in wilderness amidst nature that you can think, relax and philosophize. My walks in the quiet of good old Sanjeeviah Park have always been extremely therapeutic, and I didn't even particularly like the fencing off of a large chunk of it to build a rose garden. Why roses? But that's another story.
4. Ravindra Bharati to be replaced with Telangana Kala Bharati: Social media are abuzz with discussion about this futuristic structure that will replace Ravindra Bharati. What do I say?
5. NTR stadium chosen as the place for world class auditorium complex: Read the story here. I have always loved watching children who play cricket in these grounds. I felt thankful that they had this space to play. At other times, it doubles up as an exhibition space, book fairs, and a space for gatherings of all kinds. When I read this news, I began to feel like Anarkali when the wall is being built around her. Mr Shankar Narayan also wrote yet another well-reasoned article about this in The Hindu Property Plus, and also gave suggestions for an alternate place for this auditorium.
One of the saving graces of living in the center of this city are the two parks - Indira Park and Sanjeeviah Park, and the luxuriously unbuilt Necklace Road. For the common person, these are the areas that give them some space to breathe. Most rich and important people in cities have farm houses where they go to on weekends to relax. Ordinary people go to parks to walk, and observe flora and fauna - whatever's left. In Indira Park, apart from the variety of trees, I have seen several pairs of noisy hornbills, a peacock in flight, owls staring at me as only owls can, hundreds of parakeets and squirrels, a tiny tortoise hurrying into the bushes, and once, two 5-ft snakes wrestling at the edge of the water body! These sightings have given me immense happiness. Save rocks, save footpaths, now save parks and open spaces. We seem to need a movement for everything. It is exhausting.
All this reminds me of the poem "Ozymandius" by P B Shelley. I read it in school, and it has always affected me greatly.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
We have a beautiful city. If you want to 'develop' it further, please create more parks and more open spaces. New York not only has sky scrapers, it also has the beautiful Central Park. Paris not only has the Eiffel Tower, it also has the vast and green Bois de Boulogne. If we have to copy and paste from other 'developed' cities of the world, let us copy and paste the green spaces, the side walks and the cycle tracks. We really don't need any more buildings and artificial beautification to this city of amazing minarets and awesome rock formations.