Paving the way

Pavement shopping is intrinsic to many of the Indian towns and cities – vegetables,fruits, hairpins, safety pins, combs, second hand books, sugarcane juice, ganeshas, flowers, handkerchiefs. One does not ever think of going into a shop to pick up some of these things. There are roadside food stalls which save a lot of workers from hunger by supplying hot food and very low prices. One of the joys of being young in Bangalore used to be the masala puri from the roadside carts. Sometimes it is interesting to see people buying items of clothing, towels, and cheap cosmetics and jewellery from these improvised shops on the roadside. A lot of enterprise thrives on these on a zero investment on real estate or rental – some have their appointed places and some keep shifting their areas of operation. Jayanagar, Malleshwaram, Gandhi Bazar, Commercial street, M.G.Road, outside hotels and temples – they are everywhere. One goes into a super bazaar to buy goods worth thousands and while on the way out one picks up safety pins or handkerchiefs on the roadside. And then there are the cobbler and the keymaker who are always to be sought on the pavement and never inside a shop.
Here is a very interesting article and photos by the centre for the study of culture and society on some of the pavements in Bangalore:
There is another side to the story

In many areas the pavements are completely occupied by these vendors leaving hardly any place for the pedestrian to use. For instance one has to walk in a single file on MG road between two sets of pavement shops. In the newer areas, the area allowed for pedestrians has been narrowed considerably in the name of street widening. The road divider is broader than the footpath. And what is designated as a footpath is completely occupied by shops as their display area. – particularly the hardware stores and paint shops. And many times, they are the public toilets for the homeless and the construction workers and sundry passers by with a weak bladder. Pedestrians have no choice but to use the road for walking which is very unsafe for them and a nuisance to the vehicular traffic. On rainy days, there is so much water logging in these edges close to the pavement that it makes it difficult to walk on the road.

The BMP has initiated a lot of measures to prevent encroachment of pavements. Severe penalties have been imposed on people dumping their material on pavements. And steps are being initiated to keep the pavements clean and usable.

This is a very welcome measure as many people might not hesitate to take a walk if there is a safe walking path. Many times people from my area (Panduranganagar) take the vehicle to go to Bilekahalli to the bank or the Post office simply because we do not have a clear foot path to walk on. It is just about a kilometer and a brisk walk might improve our health as well as save precious petrol. The authorities could also think of a cycling lane in all the new roads and where possible in the existing broad roads so youngsters may be encouraged to use cycles for short distances with increased benefits to their own health and the environment.

2 Comments so far

  1. Ravi (unregistered) on May 31st, 2006 @ 5:45 pm

    “The BMP has initiated a lot of measures to prevent encroachment of pavements. Severe penalties have been imposed on people dumping their material on pavements.” If all such pavement-sellers were evicted, I think there would be a major loss of revenue (read: mamool) to you know who?! ;)

  2. NParry (unregistered) on May 31st, 2006 @ 8:18 pm

    This reminded me of the roadside masala-puri vendor over by the National High School. When I was in school there, we used to get “Kakana-puri” and the guy sold it for 25 paisa for hot, spicy puri dripping with some unknown liquid wrapped in a newspaper.. He was called “kaka” because he spoke Malayalam-accented Kannada to the boys. Kaka did roaring business with the school kids on Diagonal Road (I guess it’s now Aa.Naa.Kru road). No one ever got sick from eating Kakana-puri!!

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