Going down the airport road in Bangalore this morning, I was moved by the sight of a school girl, carrying her mountain-gear-school-bag, trudging down the flyover (overpass) that had no pavement meant for walking. This scene could just as well have been in Delhi, or Chennai…A reaffirmation of the sad peripheries that pedestrians have been pushed to by the metro movers and shakers.
Chennai was hot when we landed. Drive was smooth till we reached the Kathipara junction, where a major flyover is under construction. This junction is a mess in terms of traffic. Like rivers coming from five directions to form a confluence, vehicles stream in from several roads and by some management and some magic, get through the jam and onto the next stretch of interest.
Traffic is simply exploding in Indian roads. And it is no cakewalk for pedestrians. The other day in Chennai, I was walking down Lloyds Road, or perhaps I should say that I was trying to walk, for it was no easy task. Tourist cabs were parked on one side of the road. What remained of the road, had to take two-way traffic and more. By mistake, I lifted my elbow sideways for some reason, and a biker in speed hit my arm, paused and looked to see if I was hurt, and finding me ok, just sped away.
Or for eg, Kennedy Street, a narrow arterial lane of Mylapore, where speeding motorcycles have thrown a real scare into the folks who live and walk there.
Add to this mayhem, the muck that finds natural residence on the roads. Old houses are being brought down and flats and commercial buildings are coming up all over…This means that a whole lot of rubble and building material spills onto the roads. And then there is the garbage bin plus ten meters stretch on every road, which becomes an open stink-yard. Except for the acclimatized veterans, no one can walk past that stretch with open nostrils, or eyes.
As I was ruminating on such murky thoughts, the Chennai sky changed color at midday. Dark clouds quickly took over the whole of the sky. Gentle thunder cleared the sky’s throat. Birds dashed off from their perches, ‘speeding their joyous cries from beak to beak’. The mood on the road became much cooler. All wars seem to be off. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a car stop to let a pedestrian pass. There is fragrance in the metro.
Good weather can do such magic.