Thank God It’s Tuesday

Once upon a time, not so long ago, people who could afford to travel far, would tend to do so. And people who could not, would not. People who could, and would, would come back with scarcely believable stories of how they would sit alone in big, powerful, hired cars, on the smooth tarmac of wide open roads, and barely crawl, while watching cars with two and three passengers whiz by in reserved lanes. These people came back not only with these fantastic stories, but also with valid questions about our government’s commitment to development, and if ever a time would come when, after years of pushing people to buy cars, for the good of the nation, what else?, the government would ask them to not drive them. The cars we mean. How long could they keep going to these faraway lands for these experiences? And, were the many, who could not, to be forever deprived of the fruits of development?

Thankfully, those dark days can be safely consigned to the dust-bin of history as a bad memory. Youngsters do not need to grow up with the burden of being born in an under-developed nation any longer. Gone are the days when one would need to travel to developed countries in the West in order to experience development. It is happening here. It is happening now.

It has been announced that Tuesdays will be observed as Car Free Days in Gurgaon, that Mecca of modern development.

You heard it right. We are there. After years of pushing people to buy cars, for the good of the nation, the government is now asking people to not drive them.

The salutary effect of this announcement is already being felt all around, even though the first car-free Tuesday has not yet come around.

It has immediately ushered in a private shuttle-service provider being contracted to offer transportation services to people. A shuttle-service provider who would have had no business from the government if cars had not been prohibited for a day. A shuttle-service provider, who, being a commercial enterprise, will offer these services by losing money.

HUDA, our Urban Development Authority, has promised to repair all roads in Gurgaon. Their impeccable reasoning, it appears, is that since roads will not be used any more, at least for driving, it would be safe to repair them.

Showing solidarity with the decision, the chief of the traffic unit of Gurgaon police has committed to walk to her office that day. In the emotional aftermath of this momentous announcement, it was unclear whether she will walk to her office from across the road, or from the entrance to her office building. In any case, her able team has promised to keep her entire possible walking route clear of all pedestrian traffic on the car-free day so that she is able to effectively enable the common man to walk freely on the roads.

In addition, the traffic police has assured people that since there will be no vehicles on the road, they will ensure that not only are traffic signals not violated, but people also park only in designated places.

It is promising to be an exciting day.

“It would not have been possible without your support. This is really a celebration of your tireless efforts. You have continued to buy cars, each bigger than the last, mindlessly, while we have continued to mindfully neglect public transportation and the environment,” the Minister, just arrived in a posse of SUVs trailing dust in post-monsoon September, said, as he stepped onto the stage to speak at an event to announce the occasion.

“Did you know that this decision will save an average of 2.6 kg of greenhouse gas emissions per person per day?” he said as soon as the applause had died down. “And it does not end here. Since it is so important to save on greenhouse gas emissions, instead of a mere 2.6 kg of greenhouse gas emissions per person per day this Tuesday, we will ensure that the savings can double to 5.2 kg per person, within a year. To enable us to meet this objective, two new car-making plants, to be set-up in Gurgaon, exclusively for producing gas-guzzling SUVs, have been sanctioned today. Now it is in your hands to ensure that Gurgaon delivers, yet again.” The rest of his words were drowned out in the thunderous applause that greeted this announcement.

To commemorate the occasion, a major South Korean car company has announced a special Car-Free Day edition of their most popular model. These cars will be collector’s item and will have only one useful function; of making the car maker rich without any logical reason.

A European car maker has announced the sacking of their CEO on account of poor performance in India and the government’s unhappiness about the same. It has been reported that if he had delivered on his targets, the Car Free Day would have been scheduled much earlier, as the desired saving target of 2.6 kg of greenhouse gases per person would have become possible earlier.

Claiming that most of the work that made this day possible had been done during their tenure of ten years, the Opposition called a Press Conference on the sidelines of the main event.

“Nothing is impossible,” the leader of the Opposition said, “when one is armed with a complete lack of ideas and knowledge about what one is doing. This concrete and glass city, is a case-study in the complete absence of policies that lead to rapid development. In a city that has come up in less than thirty years, and was meticulously planned from scratch, we have successfully failed to plan for people to cross roads, how one road will connect to another, and even for parking. If that had not been done in such a thorough manner, how would we be building this spanking new underpass where we are holding this meeting, as we speak, or the parking structure over there? Not only that, the many twists and turns you have to go through under the brand new highway to locate your turn, made more challenging by the traffic police frequently changing the direction of turns without any announcement or signage, is a shining example of the complete absence of planning. I challenge you to reach Moulsari Avenue, a mere 500 metres away, in less than 30 minutes. If this is not development, show me what is.”

Meanwhile, at the main event, the Minister revealed that delegations sent to other global cities to study their interventions have yielded many ideas that will soon be implemented. For instance, in one place, only even and odd car numbers are permitted on specific days. “Isn’t that wonderful? Now each person can buy twice the number of cars without the need to drive an inch more. I assure you that by the time my term finishes, from one car-free day per week, we will ensure that each car can be driven only on one day in the week.”

Yet another box has been checked off in our relentless drive (no pun intended) towards development.

Let us, this day, solemenly pledge to contribute to development by buying more cars, especially ones that we cannot afford, as it will help us in walking more and using public transport more.

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22 thoughts on “Thank God It’s Tuesday

  1. The city of Melbourne could become a sister city with yours. We have a new government. This time it is a socialist government with all the backing of the Union movement. And the govt can no longer negotiate with the transport unions because the previous right wing government sold the trains and trams to private enterprise. In the last three weeks we have had three days when the transport system closed down because the unions and the transport owners would not talk to each other. So that would have increased our emissions to counter the decrease in yours. Maybe the way out of our different messes would be for you to elect our next government and we would elect your next government and they could both meet in some idyllic Pacific Island that is just waiting to drown due to the rising of the sea levels and we ordinary people could just get on with our live blissfully ignorant of the fact that we are stuffing up the world with our own individual stupidity.
    And finally “Mithal for PM.” That will be our cry. Mithal. Mithal.

    • As in all such cases, I trust nobody is responsible. And, it was a learning experience. It will help us in making bigger mistakes in future.
      On a serious note, perhaps the world is poised to enter another cycle of socialism. Corbyn’s election as Labour leader is also a pointer.
      BTW, the rate at which PMs are changing in Australia, everyone has a chance. Thanks for the nomination 🙂 Turnbull needs to watch his step.

  2. Then there’s America’s approach to ‘car-free world’: Buy an electricity-powered car. No mind to the constant brown-outs we already experience because there isn’t enough electricity for daily household chores. Now we’ll through tens of thousands of cars on top of that demand.

    Oh yeah. We are Developed.

  3. Isn’t “development” a wonderfully empty word?….like “growth”….there are many kinds of growth and development; a beautiful flower is one kind, cancer is another. Empty words are useful because they do not say anything by themselves. Bureaucrats and politicians love empty words . Another one of my favorites is “conditioner.”

    • Absolutely right Cynthia! To borrow from Shakespeare, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”. Anything that cannot be justified in logical terms, is then done for “development”, which means nothing, like you said, and, it cannot be argued against, because there is nothing to argue against. “Conditioner” sounds like a powerful-sounding word as well. How would you use it in a sentence or phrase?

      • Well, we’ve had “air conditioner” for a long time. Then there used to be a kind of gel that people put in their hair after washing it, to make it smooth and silky; that’s now called “conditioner”. It’s used mostly for chemicals you might not want to know about. But I think I was thinking more about “processor” when I wrote conditioner…..as in food processor and word processor. When desktop computers first made their appearance in offices around here, the secretaries all became “word processors”…..now the machines themselves are the “word processors” (the secretaries are “administrative assistants”, and they will scowl at you if you call them secretaries.) Whatever process you undergo, you can be sure you will be in the condition that you’re in.

      • I get it now. Admin assistant is also a great example. We feel happy at the great job we have done by changing the designation, but the beauty is that nothing changes. Corporations are full of these silly designation changes that make people happy and push them deeper into the mire. A more sensitive example that I sometimes wonder about – Black to Colored in the American context. I wonder if anyone’s life changed as a result.

  4. Miami, Florida , USA is the same and they are still building. Foreign investors are buying the expensive high rise condos. Wait till they see there is little chance of driving to or from them. Then there is the corruption. One contractor was able to pay off zoning authorities to build 800 unit apt building with 25 parking spaces !

    • Looked at from a “humanist” perspective, it is a relief to know that we have been correctly classified as one species. Divisions of caste, creed, colour, gender, are all artificial. This is brought home again by the knowledge that be it Florida, or Haryana, Miami or Gurgaon, Aryan or Dravidian, Caucasian or Mongoloid, White or Brown, humans create the same mess everywhere. Phew!

  5. After Manic Monday will come Magic Tuesday, week after week. The public transport system that we have not been able to implement all our lives, will magically become available on Tuesdays, so that people can go about the business of life like nothing happened. And, interestingly enough, while there will be adequate public transport operating on Tuesdays, on Wednesdays, once again magically, the same would vanish, forcing us to go back to our greenhouse gas emitting cars. Who says there is no magic.

  6. I wonder when Magic Tuesdays will come to Mumbai… Our overcrowded trains will derail or break down and we can all go home. Yay!
    Oh wait. Was it car free Tuesday…? Damn.

  7. Mumbai is forever magical. Car free Tuesday will put more commuters in the under-utilised Mumbai “locals”. Last I checked, commuters were not hanging from all the bars on the windows. Some were available. All the best!

  8. Couple of decades ago, there was a popular English movie “If It is Tuesday, it must be Belgium”. It’s time somebody came up with “It it is Tuesday, it must be Gurgaon.” Tuesdy must be celebrated as cycle rickshaw day.

    • Cycle rickshaw people are slighted. Cars are being banned but not cycle rickshaws. “Why this favouritism? Just because we do not contribute to greenhouse gases?” they are asking. AAP has taken up cudgels on their behalf. To even up the playing field, we will soon see noxious fume emitting cycle rickshaws.

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