Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Crumbling Kota

The value of living in Chandigarh dawns on our minds only when we leave the city and head for other states.  And after six years when I decided to drive through Rajasthan for a holiday in Kota, I was in for a shock. While infrastructural development throughout the highway is apparent with more wider roads, and more greenery every where, still there is much that needs to be taken care of. 
For one, beyond Jaipur driving on the highway to Kota is nightmarish. With more traffic of truckers on the roads, and everyone driving either on the left or the right of the road, the perennial problem is that of the unmarked speedbreakers. Just when you think of pushing a little bit on your accelerator you might find yourself jumping dangerously over these speed breakers (or neck breakers), invariably damaging your car's base or silencer and what not.  NHAI has perhaps just overlooked this part of the highway development on this stretch and every small village that falls on the highway have built their own clumsy speed breakers, where a car with low clearance must come almost to a dead stop to climb over them. 
Kota itself had been a big disappointment with burgeoning population of students from different states who are flocking in to prepare for competitions in various specialised coaching classes, enjoying complete freedom...freedom from any rules or regulations...freedom from moral values...freedom from everything. It is a shame that teenagers, just after their plus two, burning their parents' hardearned money, having rollicking time on motorcycles, riding in threes and fours, flouting every traffic rule, and giving hard time to other commuters on the road with their antics. 
And almost everyone of these youngsters, free from the prying eyes of their parents, were loaded with booze, sodas, and snacks as they roared around on their bikes carrying their stuff home for a 'great' time. 
The policemen are hard to find. Only a few can be seen on a few busy intersections, while others snooze in couple of jeeps parked on roadsides. 
Sanitation and cleanliness is at its worst while the road dividers gleefully bear the commercially sponsored tree guards, "Clean Kota. Green Kota".
The upkeep of historical museum and forts is at its worst. The barrage, another popular spot for the children, is littered with cowdungs, and pigeon droppings, with no place to park.  And so had been the dilapidated condition of the old fort who has, literally, no takers, with Rajasthan Tourism having shown least of their concerns to the insanitation, smelly open drains, and heaps of garbage.  One could just see the mixed expressions on the faces of foreigners who wondered at the majestic relics of the past on the one hand, and the garbage dumps on the other. 
And one could just thank God that the things are definitely not as bad in Chandigarh.

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