If you live in a city then you will almost certainly have come across the experience of living such a hectic life that you never have time to enjoy all of the things your hometown is so famed for – the sights and sounds and wonders that tourists flock to every day but to you in your cloud of daily commute and post-office urge to spend as much time glued to the sofa with your feet up, are all but invisible.
When I finally made it to the National Park on the edge of Borivalli, I felt ashamed that I had lived so close for so long and not spent every second I could exploring every inch of this remarkable oasis place.
My good friends form England had come to visit, and being newly unemployed I had time to cram in as much tourist action as I could. Armed with google I set about the task of becoming a tourist in the city I had made my home and investigate the premier sight-seeing destinations. The Sanjay Gandhi National Park was top of my must-see list and after a short auto ride we found ourselves at its unassuming gates, boarding a bus bound for the famous Kanheri Caves.
There is more than a hundred of these caves to explore, built by the Buddhist monks who lived and worshipped there. Most of the caves are living quarters and while impressive are transcended by the first few congregational halls, flanked by carved statues that my young daughter was absolutely terrified of until she realised she could play the game of “statue” with them!
So there we were, taking pictures, admiring the artistry and generally soaking up the timeless wonder of the place when an army of school-girls turned up screaming at the top of their voices as if Bollywood Star Shah Rukh was doing a strip tease just for them. What had got them all so excited? My daughter! If she hadn’t enjoyed it so much being passed around the near hysterical teenagers, having photos posed with and kissed and cooed over, I would have given them all a verbal slap round the face for scaring the crap out of me. However, I didn’t have the heart to ruin their fun. Even after all the time i have spent in India it still weirds me out that a blond curly haired toddler can produce such a reaction, even in full grown adults – I mean my daughter is cute don’t get me wrong, but she is a kid like any other. I worry about what it will be like when she goes back to the UK and she is no longer a public novelty and centre of attention, and conversely what the attention will do to her if we remain in India and she grows up with the stares and curiosity that I have become accustomed to and grown a naturally thick skin over.
Anyway other highlights of this day out included lotus flower covered lakesand duck shaped pedal boats, a really rubbish safari where we got to see some tigers basking in a dirty pond in an oversize cage (hmmmm) and some very friendly monkeys swinging through simply stunning scenery – I will let the photos speak for themselves but bear in mind nothing can do this place justice until you experience it for yourself – I would recommend just after monsoon when it will be a green tropical paradise!