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Seagirt city without pools

Thursday, October 27, 2011

 WE last counted 24 public swimming pools for London, most with extra facilities of spas, restaurants, and leisure centres.

In 2009, Paris offered no fewer than 38 public swimming pools, dotting the city with flexible opening hours,  some  open until midnight. Depending on the pool, you can sign in for swimming lessons, or use some of the facilities such as saunas, jacuzzis and cardio machines. Generally clean, comfortable and most of all, very cheap. Entry prices were then given as 2 to 5 Euros, depending upon location of the pool and the facilities offered. This got you entry for the whole day. The figure may have gone up by now.

New York is – well – New York, with 68 indoor and outdoor pools, some with intermediate and advanced levels, spread over the five boroughs, from the Bronx, through Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, to Staten Island. But then New York has Michael R. Bloomberg as Mayor, while we have Shraddha Jadhav who finds it difficult even to come on time to the office, apparently.

As for Berlin, its public pools are distinctively designed, some looking like cathedrals, others incorporating thermal baths, all impeccably maintained.

Now spare a thought for Mumbai, with its miserable seven public swimming baths, including the ones that do not work. And then you will understand the picture that accompanies this diary item better. Instead of food riots, we have ‘pool riots’ or nearabout, as when thousands of desperate people queued up for days last week to get the forms that will allow them to apply for membership to Shivaji Park’s brand new complex of four Olympic-sized swimming pools.

They are beautiful, right now, gorgeous to look at, but only a fool will imagine that they are going to stay like this. Imagine the pressures of a membership that is already 12,000 strong, to be enhanced by another 10,000. Imagine the levels of hygiene, the scrabbling for space, even if only five per cent decide to come in each day. Imagine the wonderful bas reliefs that decorate the seating pavilion incurring the wrath of the cleaning staff. After Diwali, the forms will be accepted and will take another couple of months to be processed. Till then, the existing members had better enjoy their moment in the sun!

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