Brian and I live in a suburb of Mumbai called Powai, home to a large integrated township called Hiranandani Gardens. True to its name, the area has several large gardens (parks, for the US folks). These gardens have similar features to US parks: walking paths, large grassy knolls, lush foliage, and play parks for children, but with gates so that the gardens can be closed during the heat of the day and at night.
We have four gardens (one is the designated dog park) on our street, with others within walking distance. A few mornings ago, I started walking in the garden across the street. With the rainy season coming, I am not sure how much longer I will be able to enjoy the beautiful weather—29 to 31℃ (84 to 88℉) and sunny—so I thought I better take advantage of it while I can.
Walking in the garden creates a sense of community. I don’t necessarily talk to anyone—everyone is doing their own thing, and my Hindi is still limited to Namastē and Ṭhīka—but, somehow, I become part of the garden community: individual walkers, joggers, and yoga practitioners; a woman with her personal trainer, who looks about as tough as Bob Harper; a group of men who exercise and pray together; and an elderly woman who sits on a bench praying and chanting.
This morning, I introduced Brian to this little community as we walked. Then, we ventured out of my regular garden to another down the street. This new garden has a different atmosphere: fewer people, longer paths. Huge bamboo trees line the path, creating a beautiful, protective canopy that shields us from the sun. Spider plants, like the ones we would keep in pots in the US, grow taller than me. This community has more street dogs, people playing wind instruments, and fewer walkers. Perhaps, after a few days walking in this garden, I would feel the same sense of community, but I like my home garden with its serious fitness types and serene prayer practitioners.