Tuesday, 4 September 2012


Yesterday was a day of torrential rainfall in the city. It started to rain around mid-afternoon, and by evening, even those proverbial cats and dogs were overshadowed.

People started to leave work earlier than they otherwise would, trains were running late, roads were flooded - yes, flooded, with much more than knee-high water in places - and let's not even start on the traffic. My usual 45-minute commute took me closer to three hours, and apparently I was one of the luckier ones, both in terms of comfort and travel time. Why? Because while local trains were bravely ploughing along, they were devoid of electricity - ergo no fans - and were packed beyond imagination. Those who travel by train here would know what I mean, and for the others - let me see - it's about four people to a square foot of space. With maybe one more squeezed in for good measure. So there's heat, humidity levels at a crazy high, and no light (save for what would filter in from the windows and the doorways) to speak of. And then, these same trains made unscheduled halts for as much as an hour between stations, owing to flooded railway tracks.

On the roads, while I was safely ensconced in the air conditioned confines of my cab, negotiating the traffic was a nightmare. (I'd thought ahead and booked myself a cab in the morning itself; having made up my mind that it wouldn't be fun to drive myself home in the evening. Thank goodness for instincts.) Plugged in to my music, I'm glad I wasn't the cabbie. So there you go, not that the roads were brilliant, either. To add to the vehicles, people were spilling over on to the roads (not that we use our pavements to walk  on, even on a good day) and adding to the treacherous driving conditions. Of course, there was no saying where the potholes might be, so negotiating your way (both humans and cars) was tricky. Unless you were an SUV, in which case you barrelled on regardless.

This morning, while the rain continues - though feebly, in comparison to yesterday - the chaos does too, although to a smaller extent. Trains still continue to ply late, traffic snarls exist, and people troop in to work close to noon. Happy employees like the significant other are told to work out of home, so as I leave earlier this morning, he is happily sunk into the couch with his morning cuppa and the papers. Hmph. Envy.

The point of this rambling is just one: year after year, the city goes through the same situation, at least once every monsoon. Nothing changes, really, but that the number of people braving the mess have grown ten-fold, while the infrastructure has shrunk ten times. Development projects, while more appealing than food at a Michelin star restaurant on paper, are just that - on paper. They don't materialise, and when they eventually do - it's years too little and too late. What ails the city? Lack of one cohesive administrative body, one that takes accountability for its actions. With the buck being passed from one to the other (given the number that claim to be working for the city), there isn't any one that stands up, acknowledges that they're responsible, and functions as such.

We keep drawing parallels between the capital city and financial capital. Mercifully for them, there is just the one body that is accountable for the city's infrastructure. That is why you see projects being flagged off, and completed within a reasonable time frame. There is someone who stops to question what's happening - or isn't. The reasons for this - votes, public support at elections - may be questioned by a faction, yes. But if that's the case - I say, so what? Wouldn't you want to vote for such a party/ person? At least the work's getting done, which is why you elect someone in the first place. So no, there is no favouritism per se. It's initiative. And drive.

Things can change here too. All it needs is a spark.

For now -  and for a few more monsoons, seemingly - maybe we'd best invest in a boat.

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