Saturday, December 4, 2010

Jal Vayu Vihar Turns Twenty

If home is where the heart is
Then may your home be blessed
A shelter from the storms of life
A place of rest,
And when each day is over
And toil put in its place
Your home's dear warmth
Will bring its smile
To light the saddest face!

The above poem by poet and writer John McLeod, from a small fishing town near Edinburgh, Scotland beautifully sums up what JVV is all about; a colony where all of us live and spend our retirement in joy and happiness. On 4th December, 2010 JVV bids goodbye to her teens and turns twenty. Like our own child we have seen JVV grow from an unsure and shy toddler to a charming teenager and now it is ready to embrace adulthood with maturity and grace.

It was in August 1988, as Staff Officer Operations in Western Naval Command Mumbai, that I received an innocuous mail from Naval Headquarters asking commands to give wide publicity to the availability of a few houses in the AFNHB scheme in Bangalore. The first thing I did was to temporarily put away the letter and rush to the bank to make a DD for Rs 73,000 and become a member of JVV. Looking back, it was one of the best decisions of my life. On retirement, we moved into JVV on 06 June 1995, a little more than 15 years ago. Retirement unsettles you for a short while. The support system one had all along during our service career is no longer there to hold our hand and guide us. We are at a loss and find it hard to adjust to a new way of life, surroundings and people.

As soon as we arrived in JVV, there were familiar faces to greet us and make us feel at home. While we were settling down, food came from Balu, Surendra and the Pawas, invitations for drinks and dinner were many. Camaraderie - the hall mark of military service was available in plenty in JVV. The organization provided us with the facilities one was used to in the services such as a plumber, electrician and a mason – MES in a different avatar. Regimental shops, garbage collection at your doorstep, the all important ‘dhobi’ and other sundry services were already in place. To top it all, the entire colony was clean and tidy and in a much better shape than SP Marg Delhi, from where we were coming. Our dog, Button, a very playful Lhasa Apso, found living in JVV house on the ground floor for the first time extremely exhilarating as he could run away whenever he wanted. My daughter found admission in National Junior School and my wife, a job in the same school – popularly referred to by my son and me as the ‘back side’ school. I went to sea for long durations, knowing full well that the family would be safe and well looked after in my absence. JVV became the support system and filled the void created by retirement. The only thing missing was a bar to quench one’s thirst on a ‘make and mend’ day. To our great pleasure, we found a ready watering hole in the Sena Vihar club. We settled down quite quickly to a new way of life.

When I think of JVV, I can recall only good things that have happened to us. My daughter Akhila joined Mount Carmel College and made friends with Shubra Chadda form JVV 521, who later became our dear daughter–in–law. When my daughter’s wedding was fixed, our son-in- law to be, shifted into the secure environs of JVV, as his job involved a lot of travelling. Our children got married in Aug 2005 and both our ‘Sambhandis’ lived in JVV - We could not have asked for more.

When I go for a walk within JVV, in addition to breathing lungfuls of fresh air, I get to wish a number of people and chat with some; walking in JVV is extremely therapeutic. My NRI sister-in-law once told me in a lighter vein that the number of people I meet daily during my walk is more than what she meets in a year. The absence of noise pollution is another extraordinary feature of JVV. Tucked away amidst trees and foliage I am spared the noise of vehicular traffic, horns and the hustle and bustle of shoppers – the silence of JVV is broken only by the melodious calls of birds and at times the barking of unruly dogs or the mewing of cats. Often, just for a laugh, we imitate the call of a particular bird and are deeply amused to hear a response from the said bird.Only the other day my cousin seeing JVV for the first time remarked “I don’t feel I am in Bangalore”.

Somehow I feel extremely secure in JVV. We have had times when we left our front door or back door open and slept, our dog has stayed out all night, we have happily broken into our own house when a key has been left behind somewhere, we have sat at our neighbour’s place when locked out of the house, only to find all is safe. I recall a doctor friend of mine telling me how fascinated he was in seeing our security system.

Children love the expanse of JVV. My grand kids revel in running up and down the roads on a holiday, peddling their tricycles around, playing in the park, meeting other kids, watching a cat with her new born litter, searching for interesting dried leaves and seeds, looking at the full moon through the trees and eating their food while sitting outside (a totally novel experience, especially for my grandson coming from Mumbai).

I came in search of JVV which was under construction way back in 1988 and it was indeed a difficult task to locate it. Nobody knew where JVV was. After 22 years it is an entirely different story. Kamannahalli has grown into an up market locality, sought after by many, largely due to JVV and Sena Vihar. I call CMR circle “Times Square” as the nearby area is packed with a variety of posh restaurants that satisfy different palates, wine boutiques, top end shops, pizza houses, bakeries and coffee shops – we are totally self contained.

Another remarkable feature about JVV is the wide cultural milieu that we all live in. It is simply fascinating to see various cultures and traditions mix harmoniously in JVV. Ganapati Pooja, Deepavali, Christmas with Santa, Aiyappa, young carol singers visiting our houses, Sai Baba Bhajans, Onam festival, Koduva Day, Karwa Chauth, programmes for senior Citizens –all add to the bonhomie among our residents.
Today JVV wears a festive look - the 20th anniversary functions began yesterday - we had a quiz show. Stalls at the JVV mela was inagurated this morning. The evening is going to be busy with variety entertainment,lucky dip and loads of shopping and eating at the stalls.

JVV has become an integral part of our life and has grown on us. It reflects the ethos and cultural values of military life we so dearly cherish. As it enters adulthood let us all join hands to rededicate ourselves to make JVV a beautiful, safe and dignified colony, wherein the residents not only live but live life king size.

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