Mumbai Memoir 59- Aquatic Adventure in Mumbai
The month of July- August is always a rain drenched ambiance here in Mumbai. The cloudy weather may not pump in the adrenaline for many but for me it triggers the best of my creativity. May be because, July being my birth month, the rains have sub-consciously been symbolic of ‘life’ to me, thus refreshing every cell within me!
This monsoon has been special for me, especially because of a couple of experiences which blended along with the fun that I usually seek from Mumbai’s rainy ambiance. One of the experience was visiting Mumbai’s Taraporewala Aquarium with my 6-year old niece Ishita, who wanted to see the ‘fishies’ along with ‘Aatiya’ (that’s me! Her American accented pronunciation referring to paternal aunt in Marathi language). It was a rainy Tuesday morn last week when we decided to visit Mumbai’s oldest aquarium located at Marine Drive in South Mumbai.
The Taraporevala Aquarium was built in 1951 & was inaugurated by India’s first President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad. It is named after a Parsee Philanthropist, D. B. Taraporewala, who donated Rs.2,00000 for constructing the aquarium. The aquarium was shut down in 2012 for renovation purpose & was restarted in March 2015. The ticket cost per adult is Rs. 60/- & that for a child under the age of 12 is Rs. 30. An additional cost (Rs. 500/-) is levied on clicking photographs.
Ishita seemed all excited to see the fishes as we entered the main entrance of the aquarium, which is an over-head water tank which gives us a feeling of passing through a short glass tunnel. As we entered the first hall, the blue LED light ambiance pulled us into the artificial aquatic world that has been displayed in the tanks around. The sea water & fresh water fishes have been exhibited in different halls. Both adults & kids were lost in the graceful swim of the sea turtles, angel fish, alligator fish, piranhas, the tiger fishes & many more species of aquatic life.
Compared to the Singapore aquarium & the ones in U.K & U.S, Mumbai’s Taraporewala aquarium still has to evolve in its infrastructure & management. But the biggest take away that day was Ishita’s smile, as her baby talks with the fishes & turtles was of utmost delight for me. Both of us were swimming in affection as we left the aquarium with good memories to cherish for years to come.
Yet another experience that added value to my monsoon celebration was getting to know about a unique birthday party of little Bahaava. Last Sunday, my friend Dr. Shiwani Tandel & her husband Mayur Kamath had invited me for their 1-year old daughter’s birthday party. Both Shiwani, who is a veterinarian, along with her husband Mayur, who is a wild life activist & film maker, strive for Nature conservation in their own small way. The intention behind the aquatic theme of their daughter’s birthday party was to create awareness about the phenomenal work of a group of people (Sandy Beach Youth Group) who are taking effort to conserve the diminishing coral reef on the ocean bed of India’s Lakshadweep Islands. The Bombay Natural History Society (BHNS) has recognized the group’s work & have awarded them with the Salim Ali Award for Community Conservation in 2014. I further got to know that, inspite of the group facing monetary & material issues they continue their work with dedication & positive spirit. I urge the world citizens who read this article to help the group by offering donation, in cash or kind, so that they can continue the noble work which aims to maintain the bio-diversity of the aquatic world around Lakshadweep Islands. Here’s the link to contact them: https://www.facebook.com/Dive-Sandy-Beach-538449002864874/home
The return gifts of Bahaava’s birthday party had a beautiful note that read:
‘Our Ocean needs your help’
“Our splendid under-the-ocean sea life like corals along with the fishes that use them as their home are under threat because of pollution. We must help our underwater friends live safely by keeping their surroundings clean. You can help them too. Watch, what you discard in your dustbin. It directly or indirectly ends up in the sea. If you try to reuse recycle then you have helped all marine creatures live happily in the sea.”
Little Bahaava may not have comprehended about the theme or the noble message that was conveyed on her 1st birthday party, but I believe, when she grows up she certainly will experience the positive effect of the awareness her parents had created on her very first birthday. I am sure she will feel proud of her parents then, who continue their nature conservation drive, along with their team, so that the next generation kids like Bahaava & Ishita can explore & experience the beautiful natural aquatic world around them with a smile.
*Dedicating this article to Ishita & Bahaava. May you both explore the Earth & its beautiful nature with your ever radiant smiles*
Photo credits/edit: Shraddha. C. Sankulkar & Dr. Shiwani Tandel.