Capital Glow and Blues - 2
I was running late for office this morning. Yesterday, after the nightmarish incident of Baba’s worsening condition, I was in two minds of whether to go to office, or take the day off. It was raining incessantly, not unusual in August experiencing a late monsoon, but Tahir came to pick me up from my residence on time.
The auto gave trouble and for a while, it was refusing to start. However, soon we were heading towards Badarpur on our onward journey. We reached Asian Institute of Medical Sciences without much of a hiccup. The rain continued unabated, but office goers thronged the roads in good number creating jams. It started from Badkal over bridge, and soon traffic came to a crawl.
We reached the toll bridge near Badarpur with great difficulty, about 15-20 minutes late than usual. On any other day, Balwinder, the very punctual driver cum owner of the cab in which I have been going to my institution in Greater Noida since last one year would have castigated me no end for this act of procrastination. But today, surprise of surprises, he wasn’t even able to reach Badarpur. He was caught in a massive jam en route to my pick up stand.
For the next hour and a half, I was talking to Balwinder intermittently over phone chalking out strategies. Balwinder was stuck at the same point for the entire duration. He informed me that all the faculties who availed his cab service have returned to their homes, and that big jams have hit the city everywhere, and Kalindi Kunj and even Greater Noida expressway on our route is witnessing traffic logjam.
Finally, I decided to retrace my steps when the jam at Badarpur was not showing any signs of clearing for hours. Phone calls from colleagues also provided information of jam and water accumulation at various stretches and absentee seem from work. It seemed there was no way I could have reached Greater Noida before another 5-6 hours, almost towards the end of the day.
While returning, our vehicle navigated through muddy tracts alongside the roads. I kept ruminating how the capital of the Nation could be thrown out of gears with a sudden downpour. The ability to reach office on time is getting tougher with every passing day. Citizens of Delhi are experiencing long traffic jams at every nook and corner of the city. What fate awaits us a decade or two hence?
Badarpur connects several satellite towns with South Delhi. A jam at this stretch affects millions, who regularly commute to the capital and its adjoining ‘job hubs’ from Faridabad & Palwal and such adjoining places. The recently built over bridge in Badarpur hasn’t eased problems, as it covers only a small stretch along the Mathura Road, and major congestion occur ahead. Also the Metro from Badarpur doesn’t help commuters on several routes. I feel urban planners ought to ponder seriously and take steps to ameliorate the situation.
I looked at the occupants insides the vehicles on the road. Most of the cars were massive in size, but had a sole occupant. In some others, there was additionally another occupant. In general, more than half of the vehicles appeared rather empty. One is convinced that our countrymen considers cars as a kind of ‘status symbol’ & doesn’t believe in car pooling (I would loosely called them belonging to Rich India). On the other hand, I could see people huddled together in very large numbers in the autos (poor India). When the number of cars in the capital outnumber the cumulative figure of the cars in the other three metros (Kolkata, Chennai & Mumbai), can jams be far away on such a rainy day?
I wonder what awaits us in the near future. With the automobile industry doing brisk business and swanky, International cars increasingly making its way onto the streets of the Capital, it is woe time for the average citizen. Even reaching one’s workplace seems such a Herculean task on a regular day, and not only during festivals such as Chath & Dusshera, which witnesses gridlock on unprecedented scales. I pray the common office goers’ tale of woe from the capital doesn’t mount in the days to come.
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