Monday, November 19, 2012

Diwali in Kamla Nagar

A riot of colour everywhere, LED lights strung from pole to pole form a bright, colourful awning for all the important streets of Kamla Nagar with other welcoming paper, plastic decorations hanging individually by shops. Seasonal Diwali hawkers cover the roads with their wares, the rang walas, diya walas, candle sellers, firecracker sellers, diwali paper decorations' hawkers, flower sellers, mehndi walas and many more.... No need to shout, to call out to people, with plenty wanting to buy and plenty on sale. Surprisingly, one sees less of vehicular traffic and a lot of pedestrian traffic on the roads. Those few days in an year when you finally get to have the roads almost all to yourself and other fellow travelers on legs. Full parking spots form a natural divide between the pavements and the road. You will find pavements empty except where people are bustling in or around shops. You fall in love with the ambience created to woo shoppers, setting the note for beginning festivities.

Once you go beyond the colour, the light, the jazz, you wonder how a lot of things on show happened. How and when the holes were dug up in roads to accommodate poles used to strung the lights? Where did the electricity for all of this come from? Is it an out an out stealing electricity from the electric poles, individual connections being used or is this paid for separately by the market's traders union? Do they even pay despite the huge sales and profit margins that are made? How come the streets are cleaner than most days, who is responsible, is it the MCD working hard, the traders union keeping special checks through the day or an individual effort at attracting customers?

If you go even beyond, you look at how the roads are used, are much more used.... used as part of the seasonal economy, used to make markets beautiful in light of festivities by digging up holes and adding lights, for walking and parking only (almost) instead of vehicular commute. You notice that pavements are hardly used because the parking lots right next to them are full and street hawkers place their wares beyond the vehicles on the road. Hardly used because there are roads to walk and shop on and the pavements afford little space for movement cutting off the shopper on foot from the desired wares. You notice the lights making for a beautiful sky but coming out of electric poles and using up all that electricyt through the day that yuo would crave for on a normal sunny day when you go without power. Not that I am not in favour of lights, but, not in favour of not paying and using what I can get my hands on.

My Virtual City Observatory...

Things we see, small they may be, make us ask questions, make us wonder why and sometimes how....

  1. Sewage drains are placed without conforming to the larger layout and vice versa such that they end up in the middle of the road or pavement or right next to a shop making it painful for all the users.
  2. Pre, during and post monsoon disease control (malaria) rounds by the Delhi municipality officials to institutions and houses does not include a visit to their own offices to make sure blocked sewage and storm water drains, garbage dump sites and 2 inches deep drains collecting dirty water are also cleaned up.
  3. Some of the designated garbage dump sites do not even have a picket fence to make sure that dogs and cows don't drag the garbage out.
  4. The Pilots of Goa are so unique to the cities in Goa and so much a part of the citizen's lives. Surprisingly, one wouldn't find them in any other state and if they were to be introduced would they last this long?
  5. The planned cities with all their grid/radial/mixed layouts will accommodate any space for animals in the city. Does this make us exclusive, looking out to a certain extent only for humans and not the other living creatures? 
  6. If the ghats and hills and mountains in our cities are cut down to make golf courses, for extracting building materials, terrace farming and making space for grand houses and hotels then would we eventually end up not enjoying that what is so unique about the area.
  7. We have streetlights in the center of the road that light up the roads beautifully and why in other cases they are hidden under trees on the sides. Is this a problem of wiring and electric lines or funds or just a matter of priorities and lack of interest?
  8. The Bandra staion in Mumbai is a labyrinth of skywalks and foot over bridges in the railway station and though not appealing to the eye is probably most helpful to the pedestrian traffic in perpetual hurry not having to fight against the vehicular traffic for a certain stretch.
  9. All transformers I have seen in Sadasvhivanagar and New Bel Road in Bangalore keep sparking away  and burst regularly. Is it a visual show of how inadequate the supply-demand situation for electricity exists or a matter of poor built infrastructure?
  10. Sewage drains can be 2+ inches below the road/pavement level becoming speed-breakers to road and foot traffic. Was it planned on purpose?