Thursday, October 08, 2009

Delhi's growing pains.

It rained one day last week, intermittently and not too hard. It was enough, however, to throw the city into mild chaos. The dusty streets turned instantly to mud, outside markets scrambled for their makeshift tarps, and cycle rickshaw drivers cursed their choice of profession. Most astonishingly, my commute to and from work took significantly longer than usual. I sat in the bus, staring out at the sea of unmoving cars all competing for space, and wondered: How can a place that is plagued by heavy monsoons a quarter of the year be so poorly designed for rain?

With highways that are covered with vehicles to the last centimeter, even a slight slowing of speed has immense yo-yo effects collectively. Moreover, improper drainage forces sections of roads to close, which creates a bottleneck effect of remaining routes. I was totally appalled by this. We're not talking about some small city in an underdeveloped country; this is New Delhi! This is the center of some of the world's most spectacular economic development, and not even the basic necessity of rainwater drainage is properly attended to.

I came to India just days after the monsoon ended, and I'm constantly reminded by my flatmates how lucky I am to have escaped those horrors. They tell stories of having to walk knee-deep in muddy stillwater, how it takes two additional hours to get to work, and how offices occasionally flood. One mentioned that a small cut on his foot became infected from wading through dirty water. There are undoubtedly plenty more serious health consequences from the lack of proper drainage.

Is the city, the country, growing too fast for its own good? It's like a child who experiences a massive growth spurt overnight, and his body's necessary functions are unable to keep up.


Tennille said...

Hay Faye, I moved to Delhi from Australia a few days ago...I hope it doesn't rain again anytime soon!I enjoyed reading your blog whilst I was waiting to be on my way here, keep it up :)

cecil said...

the weather here is amazing. gorgeous fall weather, next to the beach.

also the basil keeps on a comin'

Stacy said...

Going to work? I thought you were quitting?