Friday, May 26, 2017

The war on dust

Sometimes I wonder, what would happen if we collectively gave up on dust. What if we just let the city sink under the dust for a whole month, or even a year?

The other day, I was out walking, and may have spotted a demo version of such an eventuality. The pavement lay fractured and unswept. Dust had settled in so firmly that although it was made of coloured paving blocks, everything looked a uniform shade of dull brown. It ran parallel to a divider which had been prettied up with some green plants. But, dust lay so thick on each leaf that the plants too wore a vomitous shade of dun. Sheets of metal lay around covered in grey dust. An old scooter was parked nearby, also covered in dust. The scene suggested decay, abandonment, despair, and it was infinitely depressing.


Saadat Swift said...

The other day I happened to talk to someone who had a friend from Europe, who had visited India, recently. I asked them how their experience had been. The first month, apparently, was traumatic. On seeking the source of trauma, I learned that it had something to do with our footpaths, our pavements, and the mass of dust.

In Europe, while walking along the pavement, the eye level is perpendicular to the head. You look forward, and walk along, unless you choose to brood or stare at the pavement. However, when this friend visited India, they continued with this eye level based on habit. However, the carnage that persists on our pavements meant that now they have to fundamentally change their way of walking, of registering things while walking. Most of their energy, apparently, was exhausted in focusing on the pavement, the rocks scattered with blocks of hardened cement from last years repairs. While they stared down, they realised that this had to interspersed with moments of looking at who was coming towards them, because no lanes existed on footpaths.

This, in short, was the source of their trauma. The chaos of our pavements, but, more so the splendid notion of a walk in the city, getting shattered. I suspect, as is expected, they eventually adapted!

Annie Zaidi said...

Interesting story. Thanks for sharing it.

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