Why Chandigarh Roads Are A Rage No More

Chandigarh Article

My ‘Spice of Life’ Article published in Hindustan Times today ( 21.8.2017)

Long before the open-hand monument perched itself as the symbol of Chandigarh, we – a handful of families of the Punjab Govt. employees – shifted from Shimla to this upcoming state capital in 1958; and witnessed it blossom into the city-beautiful that it is today. The new surroundings; new people; new houses; the intoxicating smell of freshly whitewashed walls, and grey door-paint – the heart still remembers!

With the construction material scattered all around, we children learnt to build dream-palaces in sand, and played on the roads without any fear of ‘khuds’(pits) or ‘bicchu bootis’ (the itching weeds) of yesteryear, or the accidents of today; and speed-breakers were unheard of. No private vehicles could be seen around as people from the hills never needed one. We went to our first school in the ‘royal’ school-tonga! And then the cycle industry boomed over-night; every day we would watch our father and others peddling their way to the Civil Secretariat.

But time always takes its toll; the roads that had accepted little kids with open arms, have now disowned them, replacing them with big players – cars, bikes, wagons, local buses – vying with each other in speed, that leave the  roads scarred with screeches. The pavements in front of our houses, where the women-folk would spread their jute-cots in the evening gossiping; and the kids played hide-and-seek, now house automobiles of varied hues, sizes and brands, eyeing each other with envy, throwing much attitude around!

College-days were the best time; when bicycle became our prized possession.  The lone girls’ college was a long ride (from sector 27 to sector 11); and what a scene it made! You started from your place and were joined by others on the way –same faces at same spots. And if you failed to see any familiar faces, you were surely late. This would ultimately turn into a huge procession of cyclists by the time it reached what we now call Matka Chowk. It would be even larger on our way back; and interestingly, the convoy of girls would be sandwiched between two large groups of boys; as the colleges were situated in this order: Govt. College for Men – Govt. College for Girls – DAV College for Men. What a naughty mind that planned it this way!

We witnessed a number of love-stories blooming and blossoming on these routes – who was following who; whose cycle slowed down for who; and who was waiting on the side pavement for who.

But today the roads miss such affinity, as people don’t show their faces anymore. They are either cosily ensconced in the four-wheelers; while those on two-wheelers remain hidden behind their helmets or dupattas! People don’t recognize each other on the road; there is no affable waving of the hand; no cordial smile, no acknowledging nod!

The two parallel roads that used to lie side by side like twins, whispering into each other’s ears, exchanging stories; stand today as two frowning brothers, with a divider raised between them; warning each other to mind your own business much like everybody else does.


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Posted in Article, Causes by Narinder Jit at August 21st, 2017.