Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Gasping for breathing space

Gasping for breathing space

Shatarupa ChaudhuriFirst Published : 09 Feb 2010 03:46:04 AM ISTLast Updated : 09 Feb 2010 06:44:50 AM IST
BANGALORE: A pedestrian would, in all likelihood, feel humbled by the elegance of the row of genteel homes on either side of the road. The houses with classy wooden gates, trellises of roses and bougainvilleas, porches under which stand high-end cars and architectural panache seems to have eyes following you as you try to tread softly on the footpaths so as not to disturb those grand residences standing in aristocratic silence.
Take the right just before Big Bazaar on Old Madras Road and you will have entered this pretty, picturesque, quiet world of Nagavarapalya.
Follow the footpath for a while, and it will transform into uneven or broken stone slabs. Follow it further, and, by the time you reach the prime area of Nagavarapalya Main Road, it would have disappeared. Disappeared is perhaps not the appropriate word; taken over by hawkers and by the awnings of the permanent shops is more correct.
Also, unlike the first quarter where the emptiness on the road seems almost unnatural, here you will have to jostle with pedestrians and vehicles at the same time. The lanes and by lanes become even more crowded, claustrophobic nearly as they become narrower, most of them broken and ill-maintained, with shops, houses and institutions squeezed into the available space.
Teachers in the Government Kannada Higher Primary School, which has about 300 students said that although the school is running well, with no dearth of food, water and electricity for the kids, the lack of a playground confines the students in the concrete building. This school, that is near the Anjaneya Temple, is surrounded by buildings on three sides with almost no room in between.
But surprisingly, people still find space for construction here. Beautiful homes and residential complexes are being built amid houses that look almost like ghettoes. Some of the roads are in poor condition because of the multiple constructions going on around.
Raghunath, a resident who also owns a shop in the Krishnappa Building (the main market on Nagavarapalya Main Road), has other complains.
He said, “Garbage gets piled up on the road next to the building. The vegetable and fish vendors just throw the rubbish here. The BBMP truck does not do a good job of cleaning. Moreover, it comes during peak traffic hours, around 9 or 10 am, and blocks traffic for an hour. Another problem is parking. People just come and park in front of our shops and leave their vehicles here for hours.” When approached, even Lt Col MG Thimmaya, the estate manager of the DRDO Township (which is right next to Nagavarapalya), agreed about the garbage and traffic woes. He said, “The vendors have occupied the footpaths and they sit right next to my compound wall. It is a security threat to DRDO.” He added that the road becomes main road choked due to traffic since most of its width has been eaten up by shops and vendors.
But the picture is not all bleak here. Nagavarapalya may be bursting at its seams and look a bit messy, but if you adjust to these, it is a convenient place to stay. The innumerable shops (old style and not supermarkets) ensure that you get everything within five minutes of your reach, be it daily provisions, medical help, small eateries like Hotel Chirag, tailors or even things like ‘sound and light’ stores.
Priya, a resident, said, “There is no problem of water or electricity. Big Bazaar and Old Madras Road are close by.” At least, it is bustling with life if not with some much-needed order.

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