Monday, December 1, 2014

Gurgaon On Foot? Broom Through It!


This article was first published in Gurgaon Times dated 30 November, 2014


In Gurgaon, if you'd rather walk short distances than drive, people assume that you're either poor or mad. After all, the millennium city is India’s very own America where the majority prefers taking out their car, even if it’s a five minute walk to drop their child at the school bus stop. Little wonder the city’s roads during weekdays with bumper to bumper traffic resembles a very long parking lot where motorists honk and swear at each other for entertainment.

Sadly, the number of parking spots in Gurgaon has not kept pace with the number of vehicles that has been growing in leaps and bounds unlike our country’s GDP. Getting a decent space to park during rush hour is like winning a lottery. One vacant spot and at least 5 cars rush towards it gladiator style, unmindful of basic courtesy or consideration for the unfortunate soul who was the first to sight the bounty. If you’re not aggressive, chances are you’ll keep circling like a planet in its orbit.

It doesn’t help that the city’s transport system is a wonderful opportunity to get groped and to exchange sweat and BO with random strangers. The autowallahs think you’re Ambani’s twice removed cousin and quote such exorbitant rates that you’re forced to stage a walkout, much like our revered Rajya Sabha MPs.

So, when you move to a neighbourhood with wide, tree-lined avenues, with markets within walking distance, the air just the right kind of nippy, you give yourself a congratulatory pat on the back, bid adieu to parking woes and take out your walking shoes.

History repeats itself when you’re not paying attention the first time. Your memory loss aided by the few years you’ve lived in a quiet city in Australia with shaded walkways, where pedestrians enjoy the right of the way and cars don’t try to knock them over for daring to cross the road. When you move back home, you’re optimistic that the good times will last, unlike Kingfisher. You’ve conveniently erased from your memory the times you’d decided to embark on a Padyatra to your local market and got cat-called by idle Romeos, knocked over by playful piglets and feral canines, hopped, skipped and jumped over potholes filled with foul water and narrowly missed getting run over by vehicles that mistook your locality’s alleyways for the Buddh Circuit.


You step out of your serene, gated complex with a song in your heart and the fond hope of burning off the aloo parantha you had for breakfast. A few dozen steps later, you experience history repeating itself in slow motion. Within minutes your bravado has vanished into thin air and you start resembling a deer caught in the headlight. With no paved ways for pedestrians, you are forced to walk gingerly on the side of road that resembles the moon’s surface. The incessant honking from impatient drivers fills you with fear for the well-being of your eardrums. You scurry like a startled rat, a halo of dust around your once upon clean pair of feet and you pray for Ram who looks like Arun Govil to drop down from the sky and rescue you from this evil world.

Of course, it doesn’t happen. Instead you return home with a haunted look in your eyes, your hair smelling like it has just smoked a pack of cigarettes.

You console yourself thinking that the nights will be much saner when the traffic thins down.

The reality check arrives by Speed-post when you invite friends who live right across MG Road, for dinner. The optimistic souls they are, they decided to walk over to our place. It was well past midnight when we saw them off. Their walk back home was an adrenalin rush without the bother of Bungee jumping as they played hide and seek with weekend revellers whose idea of fun is behaving rowdily with anything that looks remotely human, or female.

All our dreams of walking down for late night movie shows at the malls on MG Road were gone in sixty seconds!

My brain is still fogged up by the exhaust fumes that I have inhaled because I still refuse to accept that the only time Gurgaon is safe and fit for walking is, never. So, my never-die-spirit has latched on to a Swachh Plan. Since posing with extra-long broom-sticks is the new Prada for ‘eager to please Modi’ celebrities, I have decided to order one for myself and carry it with me every time I decide to take a walk. After I have done my bit to clean Gurgaon, I can pole vault to my destination and also knock some sense into people with my broomstick who think pedestrians are lesser beings.

And since Harry Potter has retired, I was wondering if he could loan me his flying broomstick? 


32 comments:

  1. Felt my first bout of pins and needles on my back, precursor to spondylitis, while driving to work to Gurgaon couple of years back. Almost went wall eyed, keeping myself safe from traffic coming in from all directions in a one way lane dotted with craters and the mean looking cattle sauntering around. Phew! Should have thought of the broomstick then but then Potter still needed it then!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Considering the current state of traffic in Delhi NCR, flying broomsticks seems to be the only solution.

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  2. Damned if you drive and doubly damned if you walk. Still, cool Delhi evenings sound lovely. Enjoy them from your balcony garden :-).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm incorrigible. I still haven't given up.

      Delete
  3. And you are back to Gurgaon sagas :) Good one Purba. Yesterday I read a story about how in 1970s, Netherlands banned any vehicles on roads for a day. It is unimaginable in any Indian city, or may be elsewhere too, at any time or age. But there is certainly some space for pedestrians abroad. The only place I have seen proper sidewalks, cyclist pathways in India is in Chandigarh and they are put to use as well.

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    Replies
    1. Delhi right now is the most polluted city in the world, yet people are buying more and more cars. Delhi Metro was a big step but we need more.

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  4. That's a sad vision. I remember used to walk down to the stores with friends as teens to purchase sugar et al. when stocks would run low.

    I hope your article is able to raise some awareness, though!

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    Replies
    1. People would rather take their car than walk and then they'll crib about the kilos they are piling on.

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  5. Love your humor Purba--it is a joy to read your posts.

    ReplyDelete
  6. One look at Gur GAON roads and you know why everybody is driving a SUV and they can't see lesser mortals on the road. The powers that be are totally oblivious to the problems of the citizen. But still you made me smile with your post. Well if we can't beat them at-least we can still smile...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When you can't beat them, you try to turn into a very long joke and try to pass it off as a post :D

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  7. Flying broomsticks could be so convenient :D

    And this is not a situation in Gurgaon alone. :-( I am forced to say 'same pinch, no back pinch!'

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    Replies
    1. One of the reasons why I liked Brisbane. You could cover the entire city on foot.

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  8. I spend my whole day in Gurgaon and pray each day, I do not have to cross the road to go over the other side:)

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    Replies
    1. Hahahahaha...that's Gurgaon for you.

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  9. There's the 'Delhi' culture too. 'Show-off' the cars/SUVs...

    ReplyDelete
  10. South Point Mall is just five minutes walk fro our house.I am still trying to figure out is a proper raod exists....until then,drive there

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    Replies
    1. Golf Course Road is a mess now thanks to the Metro Line. It will take a couple of more years for things to get back to normal.

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  11. Why does liberal Iceland want to ban online pornography?

    Iceland is run by the world's only openly lesbian prime minister, while 65% of Icelandic children are born outside marriage.

    The country's proposed ban can be seen as a continuation of earlier legislation to regulate the sex industry. In 2009 it introduced fines and prison terms for those who patronise prostitutes (though not the prostitutes themselves, which the law treats as victims). In 2010 it outlawed strip clubs. And distributing and selling pornography in Iceland has actually been illegal since 1869.

    ReplyDelete
  12. We love our pavements only during Raahgiri. For the rest of the time, it is for vendors, hawkers and encroaches displaying pots.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think we should start a reclaim our pavements in Gurgaon movement. especially the ones right outside the Metro stations.

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  13. Flying broom sticks sounds like a cool idea. Was in Gurgaon two years ago and taking the rick for Trident to Guru Dronacharya station cost me a bomb..100 plus..Yeah! The traffic crazy there...lol! First day, remember walking from ma hotel at Trident to Ambience mall..was a cool walk..hehe..

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  14. This is Great Post , i like it Really Wonderful WOrk , Thank you For Sharing me, My First Visit your Blog and my First Comments , I am Really impress Your Blog , Thanks Again Keep it up ,

    Jassica

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  15. if one tries to change the people's way of thinking he/ she would be looked at with contempt. The Autowallahs have been getting same reputation almost everywhere in this country it seems, except Mumbai if I'm not wrong. excellent write-up!

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    Replies
    1. That shouldn't stop us from trying to bring about a positive change.

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  16. may I please request audience to look at the new blog I've started recently.....http://gappaa.blogspot.in/

    ReplyDelete
  17. Liked your style of writing tis entertaining yet relevant piece.

    ReplyDelete

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