the post-apocalyptic commute

What in India do I hate more than MG Road? Nothing. There is nothing in all of India worse than Mehrauli-Gurgaon Road, that ten kilometer stretch of pain upon which I stop-and-go for three hours of my day. MG Road is construction: the Delhi Metro, erecting itself on giant cement pylons, selfishly hogging the center two lanes in the name of urban planning and traffic reduction… what right does a transit system opening in 2010 have to inconvenience me in 2008?

MG Road is also destruction. Once upon a time the road gleamed with shopping malls and furniture stores; but two years ago, the government decided that these were illegal constructions necessary to be sealed. “Sealing” in practice means halfhearted bulldozing — enough to discourage inhabitance while creating the impression that you travel to Gurgaon by way of Beirut.

The government did this to these buildings two years ago, and this is how they left them, and this was my MG Road for my first four months in Delhi: honking and jerking my way past shuttered stores, broken windows, shattered concrete, skewed rebar.

But in February, commerce returned and rebuilding began. Recent workward slogs have beheld a new sight: men with sledgehammers gnawing at the piles of rubble, preparing for a new day when the Metro is complete, the traffic is reduced, the government is supportive, the shops are legal, and customers are extant.

Today MG Road’s endless flows of construction and traffic are brooded over by bored salesgirls staring glumly out of sharply-remodeled stores. Wicker World and Twinkle Sofa Mall have resurrected; but their customers have not. There’s nowhere to park, you see, that isn’t usurped by the glacial flow of cycles and bikes and Toyota Innovas.

8 responses to “the post-apocalyptic commute

  1. I invite you to try *ANY* main road in Bangalore during peak hours. If you drive a car, it is guaranteed that your third gear will never find any use. Forget the divided roads for either direction that one takes for granted in Delhi- roads here are hideously narrow and there’s enough ‘one way’ routes to drive you crazy.
    Pollution wise- this city is far worse than Delhi- 2 stroke engined auto rickshaws belching smoke, not to mention all buses still run on diesel. (Delhi buses have been running on compressed natural gas for over a decade).

    It may sound scary- but Delhi is the best city in the country where wide roads are concerned.

  2. Too bad you guys are having such a rough time in India. Seems like India is the worst country in the world, with the world’s worst airport, world’s worst infrastructure, poverty everywhere and what not. From what I’ve read on this blog, looks like there is nothing in this country to like. I’m so sorry you guys are finding it so difficult to live in and navigate through.

  3. my yankee boi daviee…
    choo chaaad that u feel pity for our country..wat wud u say abt ur bushie tyrant??

  4. wow – is Dave for real?! 🙂

    that said – I am guessing you work in Gurgaon and live in South Delhi which is why the commute is crazy. Would you find it easier to live in Gurgaon? I have seen some lovely apartments there….

    all the best with the traffic.. and I *do* hope you find lots else to praise about India

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