The idea was not to pan too much ahead and go with the flow. Options were Public Gardens. Vengal Rao Park. KBR, Durgam Cheruvu, a coffee shop ...with Public Gardens being the strongest contender. As the time drew closer I decided to take the Metro, get off at Public Gardens and walk around. But it decided to rain so I took the car out and went Public Garden ward.
|Giant Wheel in NTR Gardens|
The traffic was quite thick even at 330 in the afternoon. At Public Gardens I saw a huge battalion of police and media vehicles and wondered what was happening. One way to find out is to try to get in and I almost did - until an alert cop stopped me and asked if I had a pass for the assembly. I said i want to go to the Public Gardens. He said I cannot. Apparently the Assembly has taken over the entire Public Gardens because even the other gate was shut.
|Lovely place to sit and chill|
I drove back wondering what to do. Indira Park and Ramakrishna Mission came to mind but I had missed the turn. Quite by chance I saw this board for parking at the NTR Garden and I swung in. After paying 40 bucks for parking I hopped over and saw the NTR Memorial. Apparently one has to take off footwear before entering so I decided to skip it.
|The seats - there's a gazebo to the right|
I walked around to the other side where the actual gate to the park was. A 20 rupee entry fee and I was inside. The gate and the stuff out there was tacky. Upfront is a place where there's a train station. I went over the station and found a fountain - must be the central place. I headed right and found some sad looking shops with no merchandise and no customers. There were many rides at 60 bucks apiece and some kids were lining up. I saw a couple of old ladies sitting with their grand children. Many Muslim families had come out as a group and were enjoying themselves, playing in the lawns etc. There was another enclosure with indoor games, shops selling pearls, a canteen selling sandwiches.
|Tunnel for the train|
It rained and I stopped a bit. Then I followed the outermost path around the park. I came upon another water body with some dilapidated boats - the men were overturning them and emptying the water.But even if the boats were fine, there was no water in the artificial lake. Beside that was a huge giant wheel which seems to be on vacation.
|Boys playing kabaddi|
Large moulds of earth with green grass and some seats to sit provided much respite to many lovers. Some hung behind trees hugging one another passionately and breaking off when they saw me. Why, I wondered? Anyway this part of the park was exclusively for the couples and it was beautiful and deserted. I noticed that some couples would be sitting and the girls would be talking to someone on the phone - sounded like their mothers - while the boys patiently waited holding their hands.
I also saw many families from out of town - speaking languages I didn't know - not too well off by the looks of it. Public parks are such a boon to them I realised - for the price of 20 bucks you can enjoy the luxuries of wel kept lawns and rides and some food. Their pleasure at taking pictures together in front of water or a fountain was so beautiful to see.
On the pavement were many interesting vendors. The pani puri guys were there fully engaged, then I noticed some women who looked like Banjara women, good looking, lean, young, with a small child (like the beggar mafia types) selling some wooden curios. I was fascinated by two gentlemen who sat next to one another on the pavement with their parrots and cards - and one even had a Phone Pe! One sad looking Chinese stall caught my attention - maybe his business will pick up later.
|Cricket at People's Plaza|
I walked out of the park after an hour or so and decided to walk to Prasad's to check out what's happening there. It was deserted. The normally busy Food Court was empty - only three stalls were open - fruit juice and salad, biryani and CreamStone. The booking counters for movies seemed to have moved down. The shops upstairs were also closed mostly. The people were about a tenth of what we used to see. Good time to watch movies.
I waled out and went to the People's Plaza by walk. I saw a bunch of young boys playing cricket. I bought myself a butta but it was the American corn one so I threw it off. I walked along the periphery of the Plaza. A group of policemen and women suddenly came to enjoy the view.
|They have the best view of the lake|
A lovely breeze blew. A small family of a young boy, his father (left arm bowler) and mother (wicket keeper) played cricket in the middle. I looked behind me and saw the slum - having the best possible view of the lake and the best experience of the breeze. I bought some bhel sat down and ate it and then noticed many legislator types coming to enjoy the place. The assembly session must be over.
|Sitting in my car listening to 'I'd die without you' and 'Thousand Years'|
And then I headed back in the rain and sat in the car. It was playing superb rain songs - Rhim Jhim Gire Saawan, I'd die without you and such. I had walked some 4.8 kms in over two hours and it felt good. Lots of sights and sounds and experiences. Good one.