When Dhantoli expands

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 15 Jun 2017 13:47:09



Vijay Phanshikar

Our teacher of Physics had taught us in ninth standard that matter does not expand, and new energy is never created; both these only change form. But a strange scientific phenomenon came to light in Dhantoli in just few days in immediate past. Dhantoli has expanded. No longer does it look the same, congested locality stepping a foot into whose lanes was an ordeal that could scare even the demons. But, almost all of a sudden, Dhantoli has expanded, its streets have widened -- the same old streets -- and the entire place looks like some area that did not belong to Nagpur.

To the old-timers, however, the Dhantoli of today resembles the one they knew say thirty-forty years ago or still deeper in the past. Thanks to the strict view taken by the courts, thanks to the immediate action that the Police took, thanks also to the fullest cooperation rendered by the civic authorities, Dhantoli’s streets have got back their old, dignified look, their serenity, and their cool beauty of the past. By any standard, Dhantoli is almost back to its past glory. Going by these standards, one can safely say, Dhantoli has expanded, become sparse, and of course clean.  
It is sheer pleasure visiting the locality now, at any time of the day, anytime of the night, anytime in the evening, anytime in the afternoon. For, roads have no congestion of
vehicles. The lanes do not give the feeling of a coronary blockage, and the residents who still have stuck to their old homes look obviously happy. For, now, they can commute to the markets or workplaces and return home without any difficulty, without having to counter endless traffic jams and a diabolical discomfort in negotiating through traffic that did not move at all.

That such a pleasant transformation has taken place in Dhantoli is something hard to believe in actual terms, particularly when the people of Nagpur were about to give up hopes of any restoration of sanity in Dhantoli, thanks to the countless hospitals and nursing homes and business establishments including offices and showrooms and shops. And when that mindset was about to get formed indelibly, a sudden and positive change has come over, taking Dhantoli to its old glory as a quiet, serene place in which everybody felt certain dignity of being there.

The place had its own heritage -- of dignified life. It is almost back. Say forty-fifty years ago, people living in Sitabuldi area would go for evening walks in lanes of Dhantoli because those were quiet, clean passages. Now, post the strict action taken by Police, Dhantoli is back to its glorious days of the olden times. Now, I would not hesitate to recommend anyone to go to Dhantoli for their evening strolls.

And, as if by some simultaneous magic, the Dhantoli Garden also seems to have transformed itself. It looks renovated and refreshed. It also appears greener even though the city is still smarting under the summer scorch. Now, taking easy walks on the track in the garden, taking slow walks in the lanes and by-lanes of Dhantoli looking at various old bungalows has become an endearing activity. The locality still has many old homes standing on individual plots of varying sizes. So, even though some modern high-rise hospitals have come up in the lane to the west of the garden, the old Malak residence still holds its charm.

Of course, even when Dhantoli was very crowded and congested until a few days ago, the Malak residence with its porch with two pillars and arches held its own charm alright. But now that the locality’s lanes stand cleared of the traffic congestion, the old-world charm of the aristocratic house has returned to full bloom. The locality has many such homes, including the one owned by the Thakur family, or the one owned by veteran Architect S.A. Deshpande whose parents -- Kavi ‘Anil’ Atmaram Raoji Deshpande and Kusumavatibai Deshpande -- lived and created masterpieces, or the Devi Ahilya Mandir that houses the headquarters of Rashtra Sevika Samiti, or the old Tilak Vidyalaya, or Sule High School, or Dinanath High School, or the Ramkrishna Math or the house owned by the Chandurkar family or the one owned by the Manohar family...! The old glory of all these and many such places seems to have returned, much to everybody’s delight. And, before one could realise, the Mehadia Square, too, has started looking rather different, thanks to the recent changes.

Enter the locality from any side, get into any of its lanes, and you will get the feeling that the place has expanded. Physically, it can never expand, but psychologically, it has started looking bigger, almost like its former self.

The feeling of certain happiness at this very positive development cannot be captured in words easily. For, those who have not seen the old, glorious Dhantoli can never imagine what had been lost. And that is why, they would also not understand what has been gained back. Of course, I wonder if similar ‘miracles’ will happen elsewhere in the city.

For now, however, let me rejoice -- Dhantoli has expanded! -- defying all laws of physics.