Monday, November 9, 2009

Scenes along Bellary Road, late October 2009

Here are shots of some scenes around Bellary Road, near our house. This is one of the major arteries here in Bangalore, the one that links downtown with the new airport. One of the goals is to make it "signal free" for cars to make the trip faster, but there people need to get across it too, and even cars need to get on and off, and make turns. One can see some of the needs of India, just in this small section.

This is the scene on the access road -- shared by cars (going in both direction), motorcycles, pedestrians, three wheelers, bikes, folks carrying plants in their head, an open drain on the left.
A wider lense -- you can see some women gathered in a building that had been broken in half (later I'll dig up my earlier pictures of this space, which has slowly become occupied by more and more squatters) by road expansion.
By this building is a big pile of bags of charcoal, sold for 40 rupees a bag, principally to the ironing men and women (generally men, aided by women) in the area.The bags were used for something else before. Bags get used and reused here.
One of the problems along this road, and throughout Bangalore, is drainage. Here we have open drains that are horribly polluted. In addition, one regularly hears about children falling into them and getting sick in some cases, and drowning in others.

Here you can see the stones used to "cover" the drains in some places.
Next, I'll turn to the use of tools. We have dug up much of the grass in our backyard to put in a garden -- flowers, herbs, and veggies we can't always find (for example, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, parsley)-- as well as fill up some planters, so we wanted to get more soil. We went to the nursery at the side of the pile of coal (itself on the side of the house cut in half), and these two women attended to us, dressed in their silks, scooping up the dirt with their bare hands, no tool anywhere in sight. Lack of anything more than basic tools is clearly limiting productivity, which limits wages, and round and round.

Now onto traffic. You probably don't notice the great innovation here, but there is actually a "walk/don't walk" signal, although it would be hard to depend upon it. On this road one regularly sees drivers blowing through stop lights, and just today we were stopped at a stop light and the driver behind us was beeping non-stop -- it was a government official's car.
A walk signal!
At each stop light one sees the pattern of motorcycles (or two-wheelers, as they are called here), weaving through to get to the front of the pile of cars stopped at the stop lights.
A policeman giving a citation. Well, maybe. Turns out that often the policeman stopping the traffic doesn't have the authority to turn the citation over, for that he needs his supervisor to come, and sometimes that might take a while. Hmm, sounds like a great time for and "arrangement" between these two, don't you think?
Then there is the loading of trucks on the road, overloaded and poorly maintained, so that occasionally they just poop out in the middle of the road, and remain there for hours and hours.
This is an old theme for me, but one that I never tire of documenting.
At least the cardboard is getting recycled.

Fairness cream is a big thing here -- now that it is getting colder, they are advertising for "winter fairness cream". There are separate creams for women and men, with no less than Shah Rukh Khan, one of the reigning kings of Bollywood, advertising the male version.
The world intervenes: signs for H1N1 in English. There are Kannada versions in other places.

1 comment:

J. Luke said...

Hi Robin
As always very interesting and thought provoking.
Seems amazing that things get accomplished at all with little or no resources

Cousin Jimmy