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Graduate in Maths, Postgraduate in English literature. Worked as a medical transcriptionist, also as a teacher.

Friday, July 25, 2014

An Indian pedestrian

In Copenhagen, there's a long-term commitment to creating a well-functioning pedestrian city where all forms of movement - pedestrian, bicycles, cars, public transportation - are accommodated with equal priority.
Hello friends,
                            Yes, this time I want to write about the travails that a pedestrian faces when he chooses to walk on Indian roads. When is the last time that you walked to a nearby kirana shop and and purchased some miscellaneous items and walked back? Did you walk to school or college which is nearby to your house on a footpath or a pavement? Sounds old fashioned and impossible right? Am I talking about something that is a generation old? Walk and go to a shop or school? Who does that these days? Who goes to that shop walking these days? We go to a supermarket and buy groceries in a bulk or place the orders online to be delivered at our doorstep. Children either go by school bus or are chauffeured in a car or bike by their parents. About two generations back, when there were only kirana or pop & mom shops and the schools were either close by or miles away, the vehicles were few and our ancestors (mainly parents or grand parents) had no option but to walk all along or go in bullock carts. But the roads all over the country were free of vehicles except for some buses,scooters or few ambassadors. For previous generations, number of schools or offices were less and far off and added to that, parents of those days did not have cars to chauffeur them to schools. So they were forced to walk back and forth which made them habituated to walking.
                                                               Cut down to the present day scenario. Can we imagine our children walking to the school or a nearby shop? Never. In the metropolitan cities in our country, where the pavements or footpaths are becoming extinct by giving way to the increasing vehicular traffic. What used to be pedestrian's paradise before, our country, has become a pedestrian's worst enemy.
                                                Bangalore which was a garden city, pensioner's paradise or a pedestrian's paradise all rolled into one has become an absolute concrete jungle and also traffic or carbon monoxide's paradise. As it became the most sought after IT hub, people from all over the country migrated to Bangalore, making it one of the most populated city in the recent times. To accommodate the ever increasing cars and other vehicles, all the roads are either widened or made one way by cutting down the trees and narrowing or nullifying the pavements.  The city planners are at a loss to plan the roads to accommodate everyone including pedestrians and importance is given only to the cars and bikes. The so called community of pedestrians comes last (or do not) in their dictionary. Even though the foot paths exist at many places, during the rush hour  the bikes, auto rickshaws and even the small cars climb the footpaths to overtake the jammed traffic. It is a pedestrian's risk or peril if he/she chooses to walk during that time. Whatever footpaths are there are available for everybody except the pedestrian. 
                                      Maybe about 25 years back, before the IT explosion, Bangalore used to be a pensioner's dream because of its pleasant weather all the year round and also the roads were neatly laid with pavements adorned with trees on both sides and with very less vehicles plying around. So taking a stroll on the roads used to be a pleasant and breezy experience. Slowly, the onslaught of the software companies started and the immigrant population increased over a period of time. The economic liberalization was a big boon for the car industry and the IT jobs increased the purchasing power of the young tech savvy generation.  A software engineer became synonymous with a car and if the young entrants who entered the industry when it was new bought a car with a sense of pride, they did not think that in future the roads will be filled with cars of all sizes. Down the lane, we see today that majority of the roads are occupied with private cars giving way to traffic jams during peak hours. To accommodate these vehicles, short term solutions like widening of roads at the cost of reducing the footpath lengths and cutting trees were found. Many of the roads were changed to one-way traffic. Pedestrians are sidelined and not given any right of way. Might of the vehicles became the right of the way and Bangalore has a dubious distinction of sending 1 pedestrian each day to the grave. This is according to the official data. Being a pedestrian and choosing to walk on the 'pavement'less roads is like a handicap and it is at your own risk.
                                                   Whatever footpaths are out there are owned by roadside vendors, parking for bikes, endless number of electric poles and of course a free space for the men to 'relieve' whenever they want making them stinkier. The foot-over constructed for the pedestrians to go to the other side of the road are rarely used as many steps are needed to be climbed up and down.  The subways have become a haven for the antisocial elements and unsafe for women and of course another 'relieving' place and so they always stink. In many developed nations, pedestrians are given the right of way and the designated pavements follow all the rules and regulations required for the length and width while constructing the footpath and they are free of roadside vendors and vehicles. Every vehicle stops if a pedestrian wants to cross to the other side of the road ( of course on the zebra crossings). When I was abroad, it was always a pleasure to walk on those neat pavements and I felt more safe there. Here in Bangalore, I do not walk on the roads outside our complex as the footpaths do not exist here. It is tough for the older generations who stay with their working children in the metropolitan cities like Bangalore from their hometowns and not used to driving, they will be forced to confine in the apartments.

     It goes without saying that a developed nation is a place which gives priority to children, disabled people, elderly citizens & of course pedestrians. Developed country is a place where people use public transport more. If our footpaths need to be saved, the public transport network should improve considerably. If people go for carpooling to the workplace, the number of cars can be reduced saving the fuel and the road space. If 60 people travel in a bus, that many cars can be reduced. So here we get an idea of how efficient the public transportation system should be. Singapore is a place where public transport system is managed effectively all round the year and so citizens are able to depend on them with ease and comfort. Government levies heavy tax rate on private vehicles thus discouraging people from buying their own cars.
                                          It will take a long time for the metro rail to become at least 90% efficient in our country. Meanwhile, if the existing footpaths need to be saved, the encroachments have to be prevented, railings need to be put so that the vehicles are not parked there. As far as possible, the minimum length and width should be followed and not sacrificed for the traffic. Wherever there are drainage covers or slabs that are open, the authorities should be notified so that they do not pose a danger to the pedestrians. Let us look forward for a day when a pedestrian feels that walking on the Indian roads is a pleasant experience.


Thursday, June 12, 2014

My inner reflections

Hi friends,
                 This time I do not have a particular topic in my mind to write. But I still feel like penning a few lines. It is said that writing acts as a catharsis to a troubled and a lonely mind.   My mind is troubled at times for multitude of reasons that may seem trivial to others. I am not a fan of the thing called loneliness, but it has been my 'companion' throughout my life.  I do not want to be a lonely animal but at times, this 'companion' helps me to introspect who I am, what I want to be, whether I would have been a more efficient person if I had not been limited by circumstances around me.  It is not that I grew up in pathetic surroundings struggling to live each day for the want of food or clothes. I have been well off since my childhood thanks to my dad's profession as an engineer. I did my schooling in a prestigious convent and later on in 'All Women's' Colleges.

      But did those alma maters help me finding my own identity? That is a question I ask myself everyday. My school life is nothing much to talk about and throughout those years I did not have friends in the school or in my neighborhood except for 1 or 2 with whom I still keep in contact through facebook. I was an average student throughout and did not win prizes in any competitions. I did not come across any teachers whom I can call mentors who would have helped me find my true self. This might sound like whining but when I think about those days, I do not feel that those were the best days of my life which I would like to revisit. If  I want to rewind my school days, I would like to script it in a different way. My college days were better but uneventful and not flooded with unforgettable excursion trips and various events.  I was trained in Carnatic music during my childhood and though I did not sing in competitions much, it helped me develop the love for music in general. I do have good voice, but for the lack of practise, I could not become a great singer ( though the wish is still there in my heart!!). I enjoy Carnatic music, Hindustani music, movie songs (namely Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi), western songs, instrumental music and almost anything related to those 7 notes. Music IS part of my life and I cannot live without it. It always interests me to find out the raaga of a carnatic song, nuances of a raaga, similarity and differences between similar sounding raagas etc. The knowledge in carnatic music helped me develop some interest in listening to Hindustani classical music.
                          Some years back I discovered that I have an inclination towards drawing and painting and I want to pursue that seriously. I cannot be termed as a voracious reader, but these days I see that I do read something or other to broaden my mind. I am open to reading good books by authors of any age. My entry into the world of blogging was unplanned and I do my best to keep it alive to this day and it is one thing which has been fulfilling  and I would like to keep it going as long as I can. As some of you might have observed, my blog does not stick to one subject like cooking, travel, politics..... If I post an article on a social issue, the next one can be art or travel. This way, I feel it is not restrictive to be read by one group of people.


                                                 I am not a career-minded person but recently when my birthday passed, I keep thinking whether I want to remain this way or to pursue my passions and interests with more emphasis so that when I look back, I will feel happy and satisfied. But how should I go about it?
                                      My life is not fast-paced and I do not wish to be like that, but I want my life to be more eventful. Each visit to my hometown to spend time with my parents is relaxing and rejuvenating, but with the passage of time priorities do change. Some places and things around remain same while lot of things would have changed. Though some things remain same, I happen to see them in a different perspective. That is what I felt when I visited my house in my hometown. Many relatives and friends who were prominent during my childhood seem to be less relevant now. Of course, I do visit them to keep in touch, but the feelings are different. I experienced both attachment and detachment.
                                 Knock, knock, where am I heading now? I think I am at a crossroads. I am still finding a suitable path to take and go forward ( right may not be the word), and I introspect a lot. I keep talking a lot to my inner self and I listen to its voice. By doing this, I feel I discover more of myself and improve upon my personality in the long run. One is the architect of one's own destiny for most part and I truly believe in that adage. One may be born with a moon-like face with perfect features and be proud of it during the teenage years, but later on, the thoughts and the mindset does reshape the face. This is quoted by Abraham Lincoln, 'I don't like that man...(his face)'. It might sound arrogant, but what he really meant was his mind was not good and hence that was reflected in his face. Yes, face is the mirror of the mind. So it is very important to keep one's thoughts uncomplicated which will make life easier to live.
                                          Let me talk a little more about my entry into the world of drawing and painting. I started to go for pot painting classes after my wedding and the interest developed from there to diversify into sand painting, nib painting, free-hand drawing, sketching with charcoal pencils, watercolor painting, oil painting. For reasons not known to me, I have been interested in painting different kinds of birds on this earth and I would like to do more in that area. My wish is to capture more pictures of birds in the natural surroundings and bird sanctuaries.
                                                        And of course, I have to post some birdie paintings!!!


                                          One thing in my wishlist is to teach children with learning disabilities. It is more challenging, but rewarding. I would also like to travel more as I am interested in visiting different places and also I feel it expands my horizon.
                                I feel lightheaded and I will pause here for now. Will be back soon!!!!