The idea of skateboarding along the seafront is a dream come true at the Carter Road Skatepark. Now not only runners, walkers and nature lovers, but Skateboarders can be part of this public space. Skateboarders have been shunned from all public spaces and it is noteworthy that Bandra has invited and accepted them with such openness.
Why I got into Skateboarding (Personal Stuff you can skip this)
I was thinking of what outdoor sport to get into after the lockdown. I had been longboarding in the past, but lack of good roads and no parks welcoming to skateboarder meant that I had to give up on the sport.
Other sports like Cycling and Running seem very mainstream. Hipsters like me send a status signal by showing we have better taste than the mainstream perhaps. Though this could be true, but I fell in love with skateboarding the moment I started doing it. It seemed so liberating somehow. I wasn't even ashamed that I am 48 and doing a kids sport. Though various park watchmen have asked me why I skateboard when I am not young anymore.
Let me tell you Skateboarding is a great core workout, it teaches you how to align your weight and balance. It keeps your mind-body coordination perfect, which means you stay young.
So when the Carter Road Skatepark came up, I decided to get back into the sport. Once you learn skateboarding you really don't forget it. I purchased a new skateboard from Piso Skateboards and there I was all set.
After a few days, I started interacting with other skateboarders and in my talks, some pointed out the pebbles, some sent images of blood on the Skatepark. Which I am not going to put out here.
Who made the Skateboard Park Possible?
Please note - I have not done an RTI into who exactly did the construction of the park. I am just writing this piece based on what I have gathered with interactions on social media and in person.
God Bless the people who made this dream come true for the Mumbai Skateboarding community.
The parties involved.
1. Bombay SB -
A collective group or a community for Skateboarders. I am not sure how this group functions, is it for-profit or purely a community play? How do they execute projects etc is not clear.
The PR person of the group did offer to talk, but I declined as for the time being I don't want to get into their perspective. May be in the future, I will talk to them and put in more clarification.
2. BMC Contractor -
The invisible hand of the market, who is generally up to no good. Why is this contractors name not publicly displayed on every road and project he executes is something I am not able to fathom. Wouldn't they like to live up to their brand name and protect it? Simple but not simplistic enough.
This invisible man is responsible and the reason why we will never have good public infrastructure. Regualtions need to be tighthened to get more transparency but somehow this invisible man is always a few broken steps ahead of the regulations and law.
3. The Bandra Collective
These are the good guys, they are a collective bunch of Architects who come up with plans to beautify already pristine areas of the suburb. They have more invested in the affluent neighbourhoods than in say Bandra Talao area.
I wonder why are they always focussed around the tony part of Bandra and now the areas where there is filth and no foothpaths.
They were in someway involved in this entire process of getting the skatepark to us.
4. Home Studio
What went wrong?
The Skatepark is cracking and could seriously hurt the skaters.
The park is a skatepark, which means it is going to be hammered. The construction material should have been top class. This is a once in 15/20 years of investment. But the skatepark is cracking and could seriously hurt.
Pebbles on the Skatepark
There are pebbles that are getting into the skating arena as the border of the skatepark the concrete is giving away every time the skateboard brushes it (Yes, that how fragile the concrete work is.)
Broken Tiles on the ramp
The tiles which line the steep slope has now come off. This is a serious cause of concern as this the most adventurous and daring part of the skatepark. The velocity is the max and the skateboarders are flying off here.
Crack in the Skatepark
A skatepark which is not even a year old has now numerous crack in it. This is again a cause of concern.
Who can be Blamed for the shoddy construction?
I spoke to a member of the BombaySB group. I am not quoting his name as I have not taken his permission to do so.
What he said is that as part of BombaySB their first mission was to get a bigger skatepark. Initially, only the bowl was sanctioned. The Authorities weren't convinced that a bigger park would attract people and it said it would be a waste of public space.
After much struggle they BombaySB did manage to win the argument and the park now stands around 7000 sq feet. But BombaySB did the finishing job for the skatepark, not the RCC work. The RCC work was done by the regular BMC contractor. The contractor I guess is to be blamed as per him. This should be no surprise right?
Let us save the Skatepark before it deteriorates
Parks and other public places have a well-established mechanism to protect them. But Skateboard parks which is the domain of the young could easily become a failed project as the wise old men are generally guarding parks in the neighbourhood.
Hopefully, this won't be the case in Bandra as we are enlightened citizens and know the value of such a place.
Let us, please please save this place.