When you enter the gates of Bharat Petroleum colony, Trombay – situated in Chembur, you will traverse through a canopy of trees welcoming you to a cool and green environment. This township is sprawled across 65 acres of lavish lawns and gardens, dotted with quaint villas, heritage bungalows, multi-storeyed apartments lined with mango, gulmohar and neem trees. The Trombay Club house has a massive gym, tennis and badminton courts, an outdoor swimming pool 9 ft deep, billiards, cards and carom room, library, table tennis, a beauty parlour, two recreation rooms and many other facilities. In-house electricians and plumbers attend to the residents’ complaints 24 hrs a day. To live here one has to be fortunate, as it’s a paradise on earth.
The club which has a library well-equipped with old and latest best sellers offers a quiet and calm environment for readers. Adults and children living here are addicted to the safe, peaceful environment with a large collection of books. I was fortunate enough to be in the ladies’ committee and was appointed as one of the librarians of our society. We took great care of our well stocked library for three years. The best part of this tenure was when we would go to buy new books to replenish the old stock once a year. There are elocution contests and dramatics held regularly in this library, and I was happy to be a judge for these events, which do good to the younger generation.
We have a reading room where many members spend their day reading books and the latest magazines. There’s a café in the evening which dishes out butter soft idlis, crispy dosas, pavbhaji, spicy samosas and the best brewed coffee for coffee lovers. A sprawling supermarket where everything from grocery items to snacks are sold ensures that residents don’t need to step outside the gates to buy anything.
There are many events hosted by the managing committee, including New Year and Xmas balls which are popular. They celebrate festivals, getting all the communities together which teaches the colony children about the culture and tradition of different communities. They also conduct competitions for children, “Our own evening” where members and their children put up stellar performances are appreciated by everyone, especially the talented children who love to participate in all activities. The members are also fortunate to celebrate birthday parties, New Year, festivals like Holi, Navratri, and weddings, in the lush green lawns of the colony.
When we moved to Mumbai to in 1989 and saw this complex we thought it was a dream and almost like a mini hill station. The weather was always pleasant due to the trees all around. The campus has a dense thick green forest on one side which provides a cooling effect. There are many snakes too, but they do not harm people, and can be seen slithering away when we take a walk every morning around the campus. The entire complex is lined with flowering trees and exquisite gardens with rare flowers and shrubs.
The visual beauty of the entire complex has attracted film producers and directors and almost every week we had a film-shooting. The proceeds from these shoots were used to manage the club house. This was thrilling for the colony children as they would get to see all the film stars. This was probably an added attraction for some of the residents too!
In our BPCL complex there would be film shooting for days together and it was a pleasure to see these actors and actress getting into their roles. When we came into this colony initially, we would finish all our work early to follow the film stars around! This was quite an exciting adventure. But after a month, when we saw many film stars the craving to watch the shooting reduced considerably. We had followed Ajay Devgun and Kajol for two weeks when they were shooting for ‘Phool aur Kante,’ and Shah Rukh Khan and Shilpa Shetty in ‘Baazigar.’ This experience helped us to understand and respect all film stars who in reality are not merely glamorous, but work very hard. They deserve all the success and the money they receive.
BPCL colony has two doctor’s clinics – both allopathic and homeopathic and we are allowed to choose whom we want to consult. There are many servants’ quarters too, so there’s no dearth of helpers, and there’s a dhobi who goes from door to door to collect our clothes and bring them back well ironed the next day.
The residents are all well bonded and secure and are allowed to hold exhibitions of any art and craft or any other talent they wish to display. Some senior members get an opportunity to hoist the flag on Independence and Republic Day and sports activities are held on both days. Most of the residents actively participate not only to become a winner but to keep up the spirit of community living.
I would like to conclude with Amitabh Bachchan’s words on Facebook about BPCL colony.
(FB post 540 ) “Working at the BPCL Colony in Chembur –nostalgic- shot some of my films there years ago, Coolie, Naseeb, Baghbaan, a place which just does not look like it’s in Mumbai- an establishment of its own – a city by itself –neat, clean, barricaded and efficient.”