The fleet of sedans in your house might not ensure swift movement
Published in Educare in November 2007
By Meha Mathur
Time was, when mummy and papa with Bunty and Babli visited mausi, bua, chacha every week, making an inconvenient journey in city transport. That wait for the bus, that jostling for boarding the bus, the anxiety of father whether everyone has managed to board, that relief when mummy would get a seat and manage to accommodate the two children on her lap, and the anxiety again when the family would make its way to the exit gate and pray they wouldn’t miss the stop — all that was part of the excitement of making a journey to the beloved ones. Inconvenience was not even a factor then, because that was how life was. No alternative existed, to make the family aspire for any other way of commuting. Time management was paramount. Old families in Delhi recount how marriage feasts and other festivities would wind up in time, to make the guests free for the last bus service of 10 pm.
Now everyone is supposedly more mobile. Daddy takes a car to office, mummy has a car at her disposal, to attend the office, the PTA meetings, and social dos. Bunty and Babli (sorry, these should be replaced with the in names, Aayush and Aayushi) also have a car at their disposal, for the dance class, gym, friend’s birthday… Only, are we more mobile? Has the fleet of car facilitated our travel? Sorry, the answer is no. At least in Metros and other big cities. For you might want to carry the car to your friend’s birthday, but if your friend lives in a posh, yet car-crowded locality, where will you park the car to show off to your friends at the end of the party? Chances are, your driver would have parked the car on the main road, two lanes away. And you will have to walk all that distance to reach your car.
Your school function is to get over at 10 and to avoid inconvenience you decide to take a car. The school is in a residential locality, 200 parents turn up (not more, because school authorities, in view of the parking problem, now have functions in different batches) each one in his car, and park the car in front of whichever bungalow they can manage to. By the time you manage to reverse the car, emerge out of the mess created due to your school function, it’s 12 at night!
Your father cringes at the thought of taking the family to the central shopping
district because it simply can’t accommodate his car.
You arrive in time for a crucial event, but get late for the event, because you wasted 20 minutes looking for a parking place!
And friends prefer wishing you on phone or secretly wish that you would invite them to McDonald than at your place/ take them out to a farmhouse. Why? Not because they suspect your mom’s culinary skills, your hospitality or your little brother’s manners, but because you can’t offer parking for more than a car at a time. So out with large social get-togethers at home.
And here, as I write this piece and watch out of the office window, I too wonder, how long will I be able to afford the luxury of a car. Because with two more office blocks under construction, that parking space is already gone, and in another three months’ time, the precious space that is left along the drive area between the offices will also vanish. Because the office occupants of those newly-opened blocks will jostle for that space with my car.
Where will it lead us to? Will we again turn to public transport? Yes, if it’s something as grand as Metro, no if it’s the same old bus service.
Will we become arm-chair citizens, ordering pizzas at home, subscribing to movies at home and chatting with friends on internet, sending them flowers through online services, rather than visiting them? More likely, but the party instinct will overpower our ‘home is best’ approach every weekend.
Will we continue ignoring this inconvenience and decide our weekends irrespective of the parking availability? Again likely. After all, we have already accustomed ourselves to bumpy roads, garbage heaps, and traffic nuisances.