Dadar – between the cemetery and the city

As you arrive at Mumbai Airport, you are greeted by a mural depicting, amongst many aspects of Mumbai, a pair of house crows. It is a fitting tribute to some of the hardest working birds in any Indian city, and their raucous croaking is part of urban India’s constant curtain of sound. I arrived in the wet season, and the ringing cries of koels (who, being cuckoos, parasitise the crows’ nests, and moderate the crow numbers in the city) woke me every morning in Mumbai.

Our Lady of Salvation School, Dadar, occupies one large block, and is hemmed in by apartment blocks on all sides but one, where the Dadar Cemetery provides cool green shade and an island of stillness. The trees in the cemetery provide the crows and koels with nesting sites, as well as the only green living things the students can see all day. And who planted the trees in the cemetery?

The story goes that some of the early Brothers did. It was obvious that there was nowhere a tree could grow on the school block. So, in a gesture that enhanced both the cemetery grounds and the local ecosystem, they planted stately palms and graceful ashok trees. Could we do less?

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