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An unpleasant walk

An unpleasant walk


A correspondent writes: Having returned to the city after decades, I decided to revisit a favourite street- Theatre Road. Armed with a brolly as it was drizzling, I started to walk along the pavement of Theatre Road which has been renamed Shakespeare Sarani along the pavement where Aurobindo Bhavan is located. Before I had walked past this landmark I found this pleasant thoroughfare has changed beyond recognition. It is no place for pedestrians. I am sure the many passersby who walk along this pavement to reach their workplaces every day share my feelings.

There used to be hawkers and trash even in the good old days when I left the city. But now the pavements have become so clogged with vendors selling everything from snacks and lunch that even the most indefatigable walker would give up in despair even if he has a soft spot for the city.

But I walked enthusiastically, along the smashed and pitted surfaces of pavements though it was an uphill task for pedestrians. The pavement, at places, has been turned into a parking lot, and freeways for motorcycles. Just as I had resigned myself to the presence of pot holes, I was confronted by clay ovens or chulhas on the pavements. Bread was being toasted and eggs boiled on chulhas. But I marched on through the usual phalanx of office-goers running helter-skelter, making sure I did not trip on the upended paving stones that left bare patches on the pavement.

It would be no exaggeration to say it is like running the gauntlet, what with the chulhas on one side, and the hawkers on the other. So one has to step down on the road even as vehicles hurtle past.

There is no way out. On many other stretches, the pavement was raised so high recently, it would be tough for those with a knee problem to haul their weight on to it. Unless one watches out, he/she could end up rubbing their nose in the dust.