Daily Reflections

The Indian sidewalk – an obstacle course !!


Winters is the only time that we can walk to work or to shop or to visit friends in Delhi NCR. The summers are so hot that we can’t even step out. In December, we had a meeting near Apparel house and we took an auto to reach the office, but walked back home. What a stark contrast this walk was from the walks we took in Vienna or Munich or Zagreb during our September visit there.

We do have broad sidewalks …. but they are truly an obstacle course.

The picture below is of a sidewalk that runs in front of the famous Fortis hospital. Just see the massive pit that has been dug and left out. No one was working at this spot and this may just remain for many months if not years.

Neither can the bus stand be used nor the sidewalk !!

We crossed the road to the median that divides the road. Nice to see trees and shrubs on the divider but you cannot enjoy any view because there is stone jutting out, from the middle of the walking path !!

The massive stone that is jutting out in the middle of the walking path

As we got closer to our place I found this garbage dump right in front of a gate that says its a “Day Care”. The pillars are broken and am sure there is no day care centre here but just the thought that people can strew garbage around even after all the efforts of “Swachh Bharat” is just unbelievable.

Plastic bags, building material and other “stuff” strewn around. 😦

Today we went out to Saket to meet with Todd. We took an Uber while going but took the Metro to return to Gurgaon. Again we used the opportunity to walk back home from the IFFCO Chowk metro station. Once again we found the sidewalk to be broad but full of obstacles.

The picture below shows one of the most common problems in Indian sidewalks – The iron rods that have been cut off leaving about an inch of the rod jutting out. Fall on them and you will be hurt badly, step on them and again it hurts !! I can never understand the logic of leaving a small portion jutting out like this …. What is it?

About an inch of Iron rods jutting out in the middle of the sidewalk

In the picture below is the next classic, ubiquitous obstacle that we find on most sidewalks across the country. An iron pipe that hasn’t been taken out of the ground fully and it serves well as something to hurt yourself on. Earlier women were told to keep their heads down and be demure, but on the Indian sidewalks, its important for both men and women to look down just to make their way across safely.

Don’t miss the glinting piece of metal just convenient to trip over or hurt your toe on !

This last picture captures several of the obstacles in one go … the loose wire overhead (it could be an electrical cable or your cable TV connection or a phone cable even), the important display board with its message hidden by the overhanging branch, but the board would be low enough for a medium height person to bump their head on, a dustbin that occupies half the sidewalk and no one uses it, and of course the iron pipes !!

I have written separately about the rich, educated and well to-do dog owners using the public sidewalks as their private pooch toilet, so am leaving that problem out of this for now. Please do suggest ways by which we can reclaim these sidewalks. We need people to walk more and till we have wide sidewalks that are obstacle free and clean, most people would not want to risk walking. Do post your suggestions and lets try and reclaim our sidewalks !

2 replies »

  1. I came away from Delhi with the impression that sidewalks have been abandoned to the poor. Pleased to read the last paragraph and the phrase “reclaim these sidewalks”
    In a city with a remarkable metro system it seems a shame that walking to the metro station is made into a difficult journey.

    • Sidewalks do get used by the poor and homeless. But there are many shelters that have been built for them as well. Also the rate at which poverty is being alleviated in India am sure the sidewalks will no longer be used by them. We really need to reclaim the sidewalks 😊.

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