I was on my last egg-pickup procedure & it was already 2:00pm. The ribbon cutting ceremony was scheduled for 5:00pm. I left the clinic immediately after the patient was settled and got into a big traffic pile-up at Chembur! The express-way was empty at that time of the afternoon & I clocked just over 80 minutes to reach the end of the expressway. Once you turn right from the expressway, it is exactly 20 kms to the Chandni Chowk underpass which leads to the Pirangut-Paud tollgate. Taking the short-cut from just before Pirangut passing the Indai Lawns, I cruised onto the Lavabahn at 4 pm.It would have taken me just 30 minutes more to reach Lavasa, but I was hypnotized by the shades of green, rust & reds. March was a different spectacle altogether from February! The Jowar crop had just been harvested & the dried fields were being converted to bundles of hay. I would have thought that the heat would have turned everything around into shades of brown, but I was surprised to see nascent green all around. The 30 minute jouney now took two hours & I fell in love with the wild flowers all over again. These were a completely new set of species, which were not seen in the past six months. The majestic trees on both sides of the Lavabahn were swathed with a sheet of exotic red flowers. The helipad appeared around a curve in the road & seeing the helicopter, I realized how late I was. I reached the lobby bang in the middle of the Inaugural ceremony. Hugged my buddies & rushed up to freshen up. Another pleasant surprise – a WOW room!!! ITC has again excelled itself & have created a lovely hotel with ultramodern comforts. Rushed down, but the ceremony was over. Decided to visit Jimmy Shaw’s Waterfront Serviced Apartments. Fida & Jimmy took us for a sneak preview – “WOW-WOW”- this was a whopper surprise. Beautiful & spacious serviced apartments with every imaginable five star amenity in these 43 apartments! The future of Lavasa had arrived. We had time to kill & decided to “experience’ the LEC (LAVASA EXPERIENCE CENTER) next to the Fortune building. Another architectural masterpiece – Elegant straight lines, a airy majestic atrium & a superlative auditorium. This indeed is the showcase of modern India!
Around me I hear my friends Deepak & Jimmy remarking on the several species of birds that have congregated on the broken limbs of what at one time must have been beautiful proud trees. And that’s when it hits me. This wasn’t always a dried up grove. At some point this was probably a full and lush grove of trees. They once claimed this space for themselves. They lived here, providing a safe haven for countless generations of creatures. Somehow over the course of time these trees became a casualty of the elements to which they were exposed. Slowly, they succumbed, one by one to the inevitable effects of being deprived of water. The little collection of trees, that had managed to survive for years unattended, died. Now only a few brave soldiers still stand tall and proud. You can see them trying so hard to maintain their dignity as all around them life goes on. At first glance it’s easy to overlook them. We tend to get so caught up on the hustle and bustle of the life we see all around them. This bird or that one going about their daily life with the same nearsightedness from which we all suffer. Each keeping to themselves, going about their day and following their own urgent agenda. It’s not so difficult to understand. We are ourselves a reflection of the nature we came out here to be with. At one point or another all of us have been exposed to loss and grief. Though we might think we’ll never survive such losses; we inevitably do. As is in the human spirit, we survive and overcome and manage to live day to day in spite of it all. These once magnificent trees are a testament to the frailty and beauty of life. They have struggled through many changes and managed to remain standing through many seasons. And though they stand here before me; I know they are dying. Life is no longer theirs to have. They are destined to keep struggling everyday for that last shred of sunlight to touch their trunks before finally giving in to the red caked earth below. They have so much they would like to tell us. But it’s hard to hear them over the squawking migratory white birds nearby. It’s only when we stop and find some stillness that we can hear their tale.
All of us had congregated at Lavasa to witness the grand opening of the ITC Fortune select Dasve Hotel. Our honorable MP Sou Supriya Suleji had inaugurated the hotel & the celebratory party was a few hours down the evening. A group of us friends decided to take a walk around the lake & that is where we discovered this dead patch of trees. The most visionary project taken up by Team Lavasa is the re-forestation of barren slopes & the re-greening of the hillsides which have been cut to make way for the Lavabahn that is the connecting artery to the outside world. This is such a serene world by the lakeside. A beautiful blend of nature & its eco-friendly environment. We walked ahead from this barren area towards the dam and on towards the Portofino street. Jimmy had also inaugurated his out-of-the-world American Diner (A replica of the successful restaurant from India Habitat Center, New Delhi) that afternoon. We were in for a pleasant surprise… our first onion rings & peanut butter smoothies in Lavasa. We were joined by Dr & Mrs Suri who had also come in from Mumbai for the Fortune launch.
The Fortune Select Dasve looked resplendant & bedecked in shimmering lights like a newly wed bride. The glitter of the sparkling lights reflected off the serene waters of the lake. We walked across the “venetian” bridge & joined the party on the lawns of this magnificient building.