7 years ago

Ramna Park dons a new garb

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Signs of the ravages of time are everywhere. Yet one can make out the lost beauty of the sprawling park. Arrays of tall trees stand still; dust-laden bushes remind one of their lush foliage. Intent ears can also catch the faint warble of birds. Scattered crowds of people are found moving leisurely throughout the day. Evening walkers are also not few. Idlers are seen deep asleep at noon on the bench slabs under trees.
 Outwardly, the Ramna Park in Dhaka has not changed much. But the lake on its west has. During the lean period, its surface shrinks with the water turning bluish and nearly viscous.  Mucky garbage, and litter like soft-drink cans and water bottles float for days. The news is, the lake lies there even after so many years --- in its original place, with no segments being earth-filled or encroached on.
Once regarded as the lone centre of recreation in Dhaka, Ramna Park appeared to be dying out two to three decades ago. It eventually became a den of muggers and anti-social elements. The Dhaka people at one time started avoiding the park; some even would feel scared of walking along its boundary walls. Thanks to the sudden awakening of the city's municipal authorities, the large garden underwent a renovation accompanied by a thorough cleaning drive. The park was cleared of all kinds of nuisance. In a short time, the city people returned to the long-forgotten park. The garden did not get back the beauty and charm it enjoyed in the sixties and seventies, but it went through a revival. Soon, afternoon visits by people with families, and those loving solitude, became the regular spectacles. Amid them one could spot lots of health-conscious people visiting the refreshed park in the morning. Besides, swarms of people enjoying the festivities of the Bangla New Year were descending on the garden on April 14 every year.  However, lots of funs and entertainments dot Dhaka these days. Many people prefer these spots to the evenings at Ramna Park. With just a few of the general visitors around, the park nowadays is conspicuous by the people jogging round it.
If anyone visits the place in the morning, he or she will come across a common site: scores of men and women doing freehand exercises, stretching out and bending in, their arms and legs moving up and down, back and forth. It's a spectacle indeed. Thanks to the fresh environs of the park in the morning, the open-air workout scenario keeps widening with the joining of newer fitness buffs. They perform their daily ritual of exercises. Gossip sessions after workout over light breakfast are a common scenario. Against this sprightly backdrop, the long-neglected lake gives the look of an eyesore. The only relief lies in its regular cleaning.
 There is a heartening aspect to the whole view of morning in Ramna Park. Along with the older and middle-aged persons, numbers of male and female youths are found these days jogging or walking briskly through its narrow walkways. Today's urban youths, especially students, are said to be compulsive late-risers. A few are, no doubt. But after seeing the youths in tracksuits with canvas shoes doing workout, one would give a rethink to the hackneyed notion. 
The image of Ramna Park once was associated with languidness. After all, physical activity doesn't go with leisure. In the changed times, the concept of parks, too, has to adopt a new definition.     

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