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Rain

I headed back homewards with dark clouds looming ahead. Soon it started to rain. Gently first and then harder. Ghazipur crossing was flooded when I crossed it. I had to crawl in the traffic at the traffic signal for 30 minutes. Nizamuddin bridge seemed to pass by quickly till I hit the water logged on the bridge a few meters before the T-point. Outer Ring Road was free and fast but the Bhairon Road turn was jammed up. I drove straight towards the DDA Building. Then the fun began. It took another 30 mintues to reach the traffic signal the end of Barakhamba Road. From there I headed towards India Gate. Couldn’t enter Ashoka Road because of the traffic. Tried Raisina Road. For some reason they were turning traffic back at Shastri Bhawan. The next day I learnt the Metro site at the Rafi Marg-Raisina Road roundabout had sunk. I spend the rest of the evening just wandering around the broad avenues of the New Delhi area. Traffic at all roundabouts had stopped. In the evening many Air force Gypsies and Esteems were also stranded. The senior officers returning home were stuck in the traffic. The stars on their light blue vehicles reminded me of the lines form the song Starry Starry Nights. Strangely I didn’t feel as tired or irritated as I thought I should have. Maybe because it was Friday. After about 4 hours on the road I looked around for a tea stall. None was to be found. I drifted to Barista in Khan Market. Hot Coffee and Baked Potato Chips fueled the rest of my drive home. The next day I read all about it in the newspapers. On Monday I reminded everyone in office of the photographs in the newspapers and with glee said, ‘I was there!’

Total time taken from office to home – 6.5 hours, only!!

The Delegation

The delegation was to inspect the venues for the Commonwealth Games 2010 in Delhi. Heavy preparations were made to ensure the visit would be successful. Roads were closed for public use to ensure a speedy commute for the delegates. Policemen stood at the corners of major roads. Banners of the construction company sprung up overnight at the Games Village. An excavator stood outside the Games Village with its bucket flat on the ground as if prostrating before the delegation.

Newspapers were full of travel advisories. I read the news with apprehension. Would I ever reach office today? I decided to chance it. Traffic was lighter than usual. At 8 AM there was no sign of the delegates on the roads. Had they gone for their morning swim? The policemen stood by idly. Maybe they felt cheated too. They had been promised so much traffic to manage and people had stayed home.

There seems to be a thick  smog in the air ever since the delegation left. Is it because it has turned nippy or because the construction  work has picked up pace?

I wonder.

The Pedicab

Rickshaws form a shabbily neat line opposite the gate of my office every evening. Some pullers perch on the back seat with their feet on the handle. Some stand by the side. A few move about talking to each other or at times bend down to check the tyres. One coughs, another smokes and a third one spits out tobacco spittle. They wear open shirts and torn pajamas in the summers. In winters sweaters with gaping holes and torn shoes protect their bodies from the chilly winds. Breakfast is a small plastic cup of tea and a fan. Lunch comprises roties wrapped in newspaper and chole from the roadside vendor. I’ve never witnessed dinner.

They form the missing link between home, public transport and the workplace. The bus stops at the bus stop which is not always close to the home or the office. The metro stops at the metro station which suffers from the same problem. Mostly public transport is far away from home or office.

I step out and hear cries of ‘Rickshaw!’

The three wheeled flimsy contraption, the rickshaw, provides a cheap and effective means of tranportation over short distances. In its current form it is unstable and puts considerable strain on the rickshaw puller.

A battery powered rickshaw, called the pedicab, can be an effective solution. It would be inexpensive when mass produced. With a top speed of 10 kph.the pedicab seems to be The Solution we so badly need in our public transport.

Here are links to a few interesting designs of pedicabs:

http://www.greenjoyment.com/discover-solar-powered-transportation.html

http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/green-living/india-incredible-solar-powered-rickshaws/2754

http://news.theage.com.au/world/indias-humble-rickshaw-goes-solar-20081013-4zlo.html

Eventful Traffic

Auto Expo 2010 was held in Delhi. Every Indian knows that Pragati Maidan is the venue of an event of this kind in Delhi. Every Delhiite knows that such an event throws traffic out of gear, disrupts the already unreliable public tranport, and turns a stressed out city into a chaotic traffic island. Cars fight duels at traffic intersections with their bonnets, each driver trying to gain an extra inch of road space. The winner gets to breathe the exhaust of the car in the front without any dilution by fresh air. Scooters and bikes clamber onto the pavements and the pedestrians walk on dividers betwen the lanes. The traffic policemen take control of the major intersections where they flail their arms and blow their whistles. They can do with the much needed exercise but certainly not at the overly polluted traffic intersections. Hawkers sell magazines, dusters, peanuts and sundry other trifles. Beggars continue with business as usual.

A new scenario in which traffic doesn’t pile up, the Metro doesn’t get over-crowded with the people going to Pragati Maidan and I don’t spend four hours on the road is possible. If we had these events not just in Pragati Maidan but at other spots in different corners of the city. Dwarka and Rohini could be prime contenders for this. Imagine, smooth traffic while the Auto Expo goes on. Someday, for sure.