Saturday, November 13, 2010

India: On the roads I

India is changing, very fast, impressions of changes are noticeable in every aspect of life. Returning to India after a long while, I am bound to notice those changes, in my last blog on home coming, I mentioned about me being in accommodating mode and not comparative with the life and living in Europe. I guess I was not right, I am still on comparative mode, but not with life in India and in western countries, but with India now and India then when I left it. Each and every day whatever I am doing or seeing, I am trying to remember was this there before when I left. There might be several post on this topic or might not be (even after writing for more than one year now in this platform, I cannot figure out which topic will trigger my writing, isn't it surprising how little we know about ourselves?). Roads are the interesting spots of India, people drive, people walk, people buy and sell things, people gossip, people demonstrate their happiness as well as anger, people fall in love but unfortunately some (or more correctly most) people break traffic rules (many never bother to know the rules actually) and therefore thousands of people die on the roads in India. 

In the first week after returning back to India, each day when I was going on the roads I was feeling a numbing sensation just as we get while riding a roller-coaster. That sensation is reducing each day. But my pulses still get high, specially with 'J' on my side.  Roads in India has definitely changed a lot, although it has not lost its intense character a bit. The color on the roads of India has increased in last ten years. Here are few glimpses.

The quality of roads in urban India have become  better, there are larger number of roads, they are broader too.  There are increased number of signals/traffic polices, sign boards, speed control boards, dividers, lane markers, street lights and so on. Also parking places where not that defined before and seldom there where paid parking lots, now parking places are well maintained and new urban planning does consider constructing parking lots underground of the supermarkets or big buildings.

Also there are tens of thousands of more numbers of cars, motor bikes and other kinds of two wheelers (with no gears), we in India, call them Scooty.  Although their numbers have increased but absolutely unchanged are the scenes of people riding the two wheelers without any helmet. Specially in middle sized, cities of India. In bigger metros, helmets are rule but in smaller cities it is still a will or whim of the rider. Although the traffic size has increased a lot, but people still don't acknowledge that, and keep taking life risks. Additional risk has been added by mass usage of mobile phones, on the roads. This was not there when I left India.

The conditions of Trucks for carrying goods and Government run Public buses have not changed in one decade. Though some buses run by private companies can also be seen. Three wheelers, we call them Auto, are special to India and other developing countries have remained same, only that the fare has increased few times. A completely unchanged phenomena is also the combination of heavy and light vehicles along with pedestrians and  hawkers on the same road.

The plackets and banners on two sides of the Indian roads has increased too, their get up has changed a lot. The topics of advertisement has changed too. Of course some advertisements reminds me of yester years, but most others shows the incoming of multinational brands and upcoming of many new retailers with great pomp into Indian markets, thus changing the eating, dressing and living style of common Indians.

On the road side, the bazaars in India used to be the major bazaars, but their popularity has reduced a lot, now the malls and supermarkets are in. Several retailers are cashing a lot by providing good quality products in reasonable prices, other attractions are availability of almost everything under one roof, fixed prices with good packaging and  controlled pleasant  temperature inside the supermarkets in contrast to the chaos on the road side bazaars. But road side bazaars are very much there, in last few days I have seen some of them, but the real big ones, I am still searching. Keep checking this blog, some day you will get photos of those vibrant markets too.
India means color to so many other part of the world, the roads of India definitely fulfill that definition. Only major concern amongst all these colors is the risk factor involved owing to high speed,  not following the traffic rules and extreme carelessness towards one's own life and others too.  Time has come to change our attitude on the roads, we want to develop very fast, and even faster we want to reach our destinations, but don't we know that it is better late than never?

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