Friday, 8 March 2013
Abject Surrender to the gas guzzler
A few weeks back, I wrote about my wisdom in committing long ago to write something only once in two weeks, in anticipation of feeling periodically like the Beatles song which goes
But then I thought I should not make a habit of giving this excuse, so here goes, for whatver it is worth:
One of the earliest pieces I wrote concerned what is called OMR or Rajiv Gandhi Salai or the IT corridor of Chennai. I grumbled then about how it was essentially impossible for a wheel-chair -bound person to cross this road with at least 3 kms between pedestrian crossings. (And you must be very daring or stupid or both to attempt crossing even those in view of the manner in which buses and SUVs go speeding across the zebra crossings even when they have a red light.)
Earlier there were two options for the able-bodied: (i) you could cross the road by using one of the three pedestrian over-bridges located at intervals of a kilometre – in which case you would have to climb up some thirty-odd steps and then back down the same number after crossing the road on the over-bridge – or (ii) dash across the road when there was a lull in the traffic. If you were rash enough to take the second option, you always ran the risk of getting knocked down, maybe even killed, by one of the many speeding vehicles.
You obviously can't have that in a `civilised' major city.
So what solution does our brilliant traffic department come up with. Remove the earlier mentioned second option by having no breaks in the middle of this road (OMR) for a stretch of 17 kms. Or at least this is what one newspaper announced a few days ago. Our town planners obviously don't give a damn about an elderly man with 70-year old knees which protest noticeably whenever steps need to be ascended or descended and who is not rich enough to own a car or a two-wheeler. The city is clearly built only for the complement of such people. The writing on the wall is clear: you may live here only if you are equipped with a vehicle that can take you whizzing along for miles and miles; there is certainly no room for pedestrians.
You'd imagine we are a uniformly very wealthy nation of twenty year-olds. If you had any sort of mobility problems, get ready to live all day every day within the four walls of your house. So here is a new answer to the old chestnut about why the chicken crossed trhe road: to celebrate the fact that she did not live in India!
This cry of desperation is an open call to our chief minister who (i) is apparently the only person capable of doing anything drastic in Chennai, and (ii) is adulatingly called `Amma; or mother by all the cadre of her political party. Oh Amma, I want you to know that my own Amma would have kicked the bucket before crossing OMR on foot, while I myself will be unable even get started crossing the road (because I haven't solved the problem of how my wheelchair would get off the pavement and on to the treacherous zebra crossing).