It is bliss.
Absolute silence, broken only by a lone car or autorickshaw passing by, or the voices of the people on the street. No maddening honks, no muted roars of stalled vehicles waiting for the lights, and no thundering buses, sounds with which we had been living the past 15 years or so.
Have we moved from the city to a village? No, we are on the same road in the same city: C. V. Raman Road, Chennai. Varying actions like building a flyover on the main road at the junction of the road, and suddenly making it a one-way road, opening it to lorry and bus traffic, had ruined the peace of this quiet residential road. But now, it has finally found grace in the eyes of the people who formulate the traffic rules in the city.
By waving their magic wand about, they have designated sections of the arterial roads on either side of our road as one-way, reversed the one-way on our road, and also imaginatively made alternate streets one-way in opposite directions – rather like New York, commented my husband.
Net result is, there is no bottleneck at either end of our road, there is free flowing traffic everywhere, and best of all is the silence.
Earlier we could not, to borrow a phrase, hear ourselves think. The TV had to be on full volume for us to hear anything, and we would out-shout the TV to make ourselves heard. And finally relegated it to the farther most room from the road. You could have been pardoned for thinking we lived on a highway. Even our building (an old solid one built in the 50s, not a flimsy apartment complex built recently) used to reverberate when the heavy buses went past. Buses taking the corner would sweep past pedestrians dangerously closely. Once I was walking by with my umbrella open, and a bus grazed past me and almost knocked the umbrella down. No amount of representations in our local newspapers or mainstream papers seemed to work. VIPs who live on this road did not want to waste their clout on a matter like traffic noise pollution. From being a place where we could walk in safety, it became a place where we could not let our children or our senior citizens go out without an escort.
After many years, we are now enjoying this newfound peace, listening to the birds and the squirrels, which live on the trees in our compound. Will it last? I don’t know.
People who are not satisfied with this arrangement are the businessmen whose establishments are affected by the one-way rule; residents on the roads which are now open to traffic which used to be diverted to our road, and also car and auto drivers who have to move circuitously following the one-way rule to reach their destinations. Auto drivers use this as an excuse to further fleece their hapless passengers.
We understand that some powerful lobbying is going on to bring the road rules back to status quo. But till then, we will enjoy the peace and quiet while it lasts.