India Trip Blog 10 (11 January 2020) Streets and Reproduction of Poverty
11 January Saturday. 1:40 in the night. I was not sleeping, although I feel alright. So I turned on my light.
I started thinking about some things yesterday. I realized that it has become impossible to walk on these roads. I mean, one can sort of get along, but with a lot of difficulty, with all kinds of vehicles stopped on the roadsides. One has to walk around them, out into the street.
In some places, there are food sellers on the roads as in Calcutta. The roadside is so rough and cluttered with everything that it most certainly is not a pleasant experience.
I am always afraid of getting hit by a car or motorcycle when I have to walk around a vehicle, because they come so close. So I go, just gripping my bag. There might be a pleasanter, less cluttered part of the city. I don’t know. One has to experience it to see what is going on.
It was pleasant to be in the Residency yesterday with no traffic at all. And here, there is nothing anywhere to even stop the traffic. So there is no way to get across the road when the traffic is heavy. It seems that there is no concern for pedestrians in these Indian cities. It is always dangerous, because often these guys on motorcycles dart through the wrong side of the street, when one does not expect it. Or they just come directly at you. It makes for complete chaos. No rules, no regulations for the roads. Are they thinking about driverless vehicles here? No way!
Yesterday, coming back from the Residency, there was a complete lock of traffic in a crossroads. Buses, cars, auto rickshaws, motorcycles, even bicycles. Nothing could move at all for some minutes, because everyone was trying to get ahead of everyone else.
I started to think, deviously, well, the British were right. They cannot run the country on their own. But it does run, but by the most forceful forcing their way forward, these days, it seems.
In this chaos, few women are seen at all. The ones that I see along the roads look completely helpless if they are alone. Rather pitiful creatures. Here, I did not see girls on motor scooters, but I have seen a lot in other places, like Delhi. Or Calcutta maybe.
Having cars has made the situation more difficult for pedestrians. If one does not have wheels, they they are at a big disadvantage.
The shops along most roads are dirty, grungy, grimy, dark, crummy, poor, cluttered completely, of course. There is no place to walk except in the road where vehicles are parked in front of the shops.
Even, I swear to God, the auto rickshaw guy was honking at a cow in the street, lumbering down the middle of the street in complete chaos. Is that cow going to move over for the rickshaw? I just laughed. The cow did move.
It reminded me of Rodney Dangerfield’s joke about his wife honking at a tree before she hit it.
Sometimes one seemingly comes close to getting killed and the only thing that one can do is laugh about it.
I want those who have plans for society to come here and see this chaos. Just see it and think of it all over this vast country. Indeed, across several countries in Asia.
But comparing India to China, or any east Asian country, even leaving out Japan, there is surely a lot more discipline elsewhere.
I noticed in the pub that the waiters did not even bother to remove the empty bottles. One must remind them to do it. On the other hand, one would not expect highly trained waiters there!
But in a hotel restaurant, like the Mira Mann, it is much more professional.
The why things are going now, I can only see these streets and roads getting clogged with more and more traffic without underpasses or over passes and it is impossible to get across the road for most of the day and certainly in the evening. The surge of traffic goes up to midnight or longer.
It seems so out of balance to have a hotel door-man standing to open the door for you, dressed in some livery garb, just after one has risked their life trying to get across the street in front of the hotel.
Where is the possibility of a person walking confortably along a street? I don’t mean the right to walk. I mean the sheer possibility of it. Now that is nearly impossible. Crossing the street is very nearly impossible. I honestly believe that people who had not been here could not even imagine it. They would likely demand to get out of the country as quickly as possible. Still, I keep coming back, making the same mistake over and over, perhaps. But maybe not.
I don’t think that there is anything so fascinating, nearly so fascinating, in Disneyland as in the Indian streets. To tell the truth, Disneyland always bored me. Except perhaps for the very first time when I was very young at twenty-three. And it would be hard to find a ride in Disneyland that would be as exciting as the Indian streets. Certainly not nearly as dangerous, as that would not be allowed!
Well, it seems to me that it would be sobering to most in America and other “rich” countries to see how things are here in India right now. Is it this chaos that is meant by development? The mass replication of poverty? Producing wealth and technology and the mass production of poverty. Technology is not reducing poverty. It is the poor who are producing and now using it.
I was amazed at that section in Old Delhi, near the Old Delhi Railway Station. Hundreds of tiny shops, packed with, and selling technology. All the brands, fake or not fake. Maybe there is not a lot of difference sometimes. It was in a rather muddy lane that day, and there was the mass marketing of technology by small shopkeepers. I don’t know if they are getting rich. I guess a few of them might get lucky and get rich, but not many. I really do not know.