5 Aug 2009

Work in Progress

Since A has been traveling to exotic places, I have been subject to a lot of noises from the house downstairs. You see a new set of people have moved in and they are making alterations to their home.

In Delhi, this might take almost a month. Walls are broken down to merge rooms or cavities created for cupboards and ACs. The balcony might be covered to create an additional bedroom (who needs such a large space to sit out ?). The noise starts around 8 in the morning and continues till about 10 in the night.

Sometimes I look at my colony as a microcosm of the city – A Work In Progress. Always somewhere some large construction is happening – a new flyover, a building or a metro line. Where we stay in Karol Bagh, old houses are being torn down to make way for garish hotels. Shops replaced by mini supermarkets (if there is such a phrase).

Of course we too have made our contribution to this. Last year when our house caught fire we spent over a month in repairs. Then it was the neighbours on the first floor who were putting POP in their entire house. Of course our staircases were filled with POP dust for two months. And water related work (new tanks, seepage repair) continues throughout the year.

The roads inside our colony are always being dug up by different sarkari and private agencies who refuse clean up when they leave. New ingenious ways to park cars need to be found each time the roads are left in this state.

There is a police station nearby which went through a flurry of refurbishments two years ago. All the old furniture and building material waste was left at a gate facing our colony. This remained the dumping ground for a long time. Confiscated rickshaws and cars also found their way. Then suddenly one day they were removed. The people living near the police station did not know how to react to this new available space. But before it could be used for parking more cars we bought, the garbage reappeared with a vengeance. We were told that some parts of the housing complex within the station are being reconstructed.

From the air, Delhi must resemble an ant colony, workers scurrying around. Can you remember the last time the city was free of construction projects and traffic could flow? Before the 1982 Asian Games? But then there were hardly any cars to compare.

Cities in other countries too go through such a process, but only in Delhi can you find a living exhibition of a City on the Make. Everything is out there. You can stop and see what we are doing because we are going to take twice the amount of time anyways.

Just be careful while watching the show. You might fall into a ditch left over from a cable-laying project.

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