More than anything, it gave a degree of privacy to the residents of the buildings around it. Like most Mumbai apartments they're too close for comfort and the thick leafy branches of the Portia tree curtained off each building from the other.
For me on my higher floor, I was on eye-level with all the birds that flitted in and out, drinking the nectar and eating the fruit of the Portia tree. It was a constant source of entertainment.
And the green! What a soothing wash of green to calm the eye and mind.
Some months ago the place where it was growing was the site of much redevelopment and the area around the tree had been claimed as a road. In an attempt to save the tree, a low wall was built up around it, filled in and finally concreted over. Whoever did it must've thought that would make it more firm.
For the last 2 days, Mumbai has been seeing a lot of rain and just as it petered out and the sky was clearing up, there was a loud crash. Everyone from all the buildings around ran out . What a sad sight! Our beloved tree was tilted over dangerously with the roots snapped off on one whole side, and the concrete slab propping it up like on of those leaning-boards you hear of actresses using between shots..
Is the redevelopment to be blamed? I'm more inclined to think that the fault lies in its branches. Since there was a building too close to its western side, the branches on that side were pruned more harshly than the others. As a result it got a slightly lop-sided effect. Shorter branches on one side and longer heavier branches on the other. And following 2 days of heavy rain, I think it just toppled over onto the heaver side.
I wonder whether it can be saved...
Maybe if the newer, thinner branches are pruned off, the tree will not be so top-heavy or lop-sided. Then if a big pit is dug the tree can be lowered into it and there is still hope for it?
What would you do? Keeping in mind, of course, that fancy tools and equipment are not an option...