Tired and sleepy after an action packed yesterday (more on that
coming-up here), I was lazing around on my bed with a book in my hands. Just then, between dozing and flipping the pages of Scion of Ikshvaku, an update on my Facebook timeline caught my attention. Colorful flags and balloons and hordes of people walking lazily. A closer look at one of the photos which had grabbed my attention and I realized that the place was none other than the always crowded. I was pleasantly surprised to see MG Road in this unexpected avatar.Open Streets, an event similar to the Raahgiri Day which is organized in Gurgaon was on.
It was not long before I found myself with the hundreds of people already strolling down MG Road. No honking, no speeding cars and bikes to watch out for, just people all around. I for one had never imagined one of the most crowded roads of this multi-cultural to be full of people instead of vehicles. I know you must be thinking that no vehicles are allowed on the MG Road on New Year’s eve either. So let me tell you that while you are true when you say there are no vehicles on the New Year’s eve, it is also true that the atmosphere on the last night of the year is pretty opposite to what it was last evening.
Everyone was relaxed here, very much in contrast to the shouting and cheering crowd that we see during the new year’s eve. People here were strolling about without a destination. Soaking-in in the environment and savoring mouth-watering snacks from the temporary stalls that had come-up on one side of the road. The aroma emanating from these dingy shops was pulling more and more people towards them by the minute. The street-hawkers too were not behind.
Because of the ever-increasing number of vehicles in Indian cities, fresh air to breathe-in or an empty street where you can just walk as you like without having to worry about crazy vehicles come crashing at you, are becoming something far from reality with each passing day. To bring in a little change to this chaotic way which we have pushed ourselves into, a lot of Indian cities have been coming-up with such events. With the support of agencies like the Traffic Police and the administration, events like this are thriving. The public too, seem to like it a lot.
The environment there was felt lively and relaxed at the same time. As I strolled past the food-stalls, mouth-watering aromas from which were still making my stomach growl, I moved towards where a big crowd seemed to have gathered. Not that elsewhere around was any less crowded but here, the crowd it looked was not moving forward. Instead, everyone was surrounding something there.
On a closer look, I found a small stall of the Karnataka Tourism which had become the center of attraction there. The people were surrounding a dancer dressed in traditional attire, not missing any chance of a selfie from every possible angle. I felt bad for the poor guy who had to smile for every photo being clicked wearing a smile which quite obviously was a forced one. It was a little tough get a good view of the dressed-up artists but I was somehow able to get close enough to capture a traditional dance that was on full swing, at the crazy beat of drums, right next to him.
Leaving behind the colors and crowd, I decided to move to the elevated walk-way next to the main road in order to get a better view of the happenings below, under the golden light of the setting sun. I was however, caught unawares as soon as I reached the upper-level. All I expected to see from above was a nice view of the fun and frolic going on below below. What I found instead, to my pleasant surprise was, something which I can confidently call a brilliant exhibition of art.
Apart from delightfully charming paintings to photos to terracotta jewellery everything was up for display. There were artists playing music and entertaining people, contests happening, people getting their sketches made, people shopping for small but beautiful things. and a lot more activities.
I thought of spending some more time there and leave only when it was supposed to get over and the road open for vehicular traffic again, at around 9 PM but seeing the crowd starting to swell at an increasing rate, I decided to leave early.
An evening well-spent!
Have you been to car-free days elsewhere? How did you like it? Do let me know, I would love to hear from you.