The lady of the park

There was once a barren land. Though it belonged to the people, they had no rights. Her husband fought for that land and got it back. She turned it into a beautiful park for everyone.

A curator is usually a caretaker of cultural heritage like museum and art galleries but Latha Heble, curates a park. She looks after the Koramangala 3rd block park. People call her the curator of the park. Originally from Mangalore, Latha who has lived mostly in Bangalore, got married to Suresh Heble in 1964. After her husband retired as Air Vice-Marshal from Air Force, they settled in Koramangala 3rd block.

A graduate from JJ school of arts, Latha paints her walls with murals when she is free.

Latha Heble at the park

How did you end up being a curator of the park?

My husband was involved in getting the land (park) back to the community. The land was in the name of three parties, who didn’t exist. He fought for 11 years. BBMP finally built a park there. Also, I have penchant for gardening. When we lived in Agra, I had won prizes for best garden for three years in a row. For the past two years, I am taking care of this park.

What kind of investment does it take, both in terms of money and time, to maintain a park like this?

Right now, (maintenance) funds come from Grand Mercure, the hotel nearby, which has adopted the park. We need a lot of money for maintenance – for buying pesticides, manure. We also have to pay for labour. Mercure is giving us 30,000 but we need more money for buying new plants.

What more do you think is needed in the park?

We need children’s play equipments, we have been asking BBMP for a long time.

How do you think residents can take ownership of public spaces such as parks?

You cannot do single handedly, like-minded people should form a group and then can easily take care of any park.

Any comment on recent opening of a gym in a park in open space in Sadashivnagar.? There is a lot of debate on this. What’s your opinion?

We don’t want it, we put equipment but we cannot put control over the crowd that comes in. I have seen several cases where people ruin the plants, cut the fences. We don’t want to invite trouble. Definitely one should first learn that it’s their park, they shouldn’t destroy it.

Any action have you taken against people cutting fences, destroying plants?

I have complained to the authorities but in vain. Now we have found a solution to it. Earlier people used to cut the fences, climb over it looking for cricket ball and trample the plants. Adjoining is a ground where people usually cricket. We then put a gate at that place. They can come inside and ask the workers to get them the ball.

What is the speciality of this park?

We have kept wooden boxes as a nest for birds. Birds like sun birds are frequently observed and we are hoping for the return of sparrows.

You been here for 22 years now. How have you seen Koramangala develop?

It has become terribly commercialised and the traffic has become an eternal problem.

Which place you like to visit?

Lalbagh, as it has most beautiful and rare plants.

Any message for the people?

Go green and enjoy with the nature.

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