Wednesday, May 27, 2009

On Bombay Roads

If a tortoise had at all beaten a hare in a race, I am sure Bombay would have hosted that race. The traffic moves at a snail's pace. The pee-pee of auto-rickshaws and pon-pon of the trucks cause such a headache that you wish to get rid of your head knowing well that the headache wont go. To a larger extent, this is due to the abysmal condition of the roads in the mega-city of India. Going by normal standards, only few roads in the city can qualify being called a road - western express highway, eastern express highway, JV Link Road are few of them. Remaining all roads are no better than the narrow lanes which are either meant for the kids to play marbles or for the youngsters to speed away on their bikes. By no stretch of imagination (obviously the imagination of non-mumbaikars, for a mumbaikar's imagination is polluted by the realities of his city) the narrow lanes of Bandra are not meant for the BMWs, Mercs, Audis of the several cine-stars who stay there. You would come across tens of hawkers selling anything from orange-juice to footwear just outside the Bandra station - a structure built by Brits almost a century ago. On the same road, there is always a queue of people eagerly waiting for auto-rickshaws. On the other side of the road, there are small shops which have been unmoved in last fifty areas. Such shops resemble the shops in medieval times. There are many other illegal stalls in front of these shops. In whatever space is left, you would see foreign made cars trying to make way somehow. If the same was the case in Delhi, the owner of Maruti-800 would have taken pot shots on the BMW owner for irrespective of more powerful engine of the latter, his car moves slowly than a Maruti.

At many other places, the roads have sharper ups and downs than those seen in the Sensex in seventeen months. Mahakali Caves Road is one exapmple in the eastern part of Andheri suburbs. It is obvious that this road is named after Mahakali Caves which are few meters away from the road. Though, I have not seen the caves, but I think the journey on the road is tougher than the one in the cave. As we say in Media, Sensex had a tipsy-turvy ride, I think if you want to experience such a ride, you should travel on Mahakali Caves Road.

This was not enough as the God made Bombay a coastal city. The rains are so heavy that it washes away the upper layer of most of the roads. It is like taking the mask-off from the face of BMC and MMRDA, which were claiming only few months ago about the substantial investments they have done in road infrastructure of the city.

On the top of all of it, metro rail is coming to Bombay. The construction of this rail has taken almost one-third of many roads as its construction site. The other day, I was travelling in an auto. It was late in night and the driver was sleepy. He was about to drive straight into the construction site that I yelled at him and he somehow took a right turn. I asked how could he do it. He said he has been driving for the last thirty years on the same road and it is his hands who do the thinking more than his brain. I pray as I wish his brain to think more than his hands.

No comments: