Oh, to be Argus-eyed!

Our roads, or what pass for them — uneven terrain full of potholes and pits, stones of varying sizes and shapes, heaps of sand and baby jelly with tiny patches of tarred surface here and there — are death traps for unwary pedestrians and drivers. Whenever I am on a road, I wish I were a little bit like Argus, the mythological character who had a hundred eyes. I would be quite satisfied with six pairs, just five more than the one pair of God-given eyes.

This pair helps one to look in front. A pair at the back would really make for greater comfort. A pair on the left and another pair on the right would warn me of vehicles that zoom in from the sides when least expected. If I could have a pair to look down, it would save me from slipping on banana skins and other orthopaedic disasters. And  to complete the set, if I could have a sixth pair to glance upwards, I could avoid drooping cables and electric wires. I don’t think that it is too much to ask for, considering the skill it requires to negotiate our roads!

All the time I read of a clean, green Bangalore, and what do I see? Stumps of cruelly felled trees, trees that once formed a protective cover from the scorching rays of the sun, mounds of garbage, blocked drains and plastic bags and bottles littering open spaces. The authorities gear up to tackle this once in a long while. Cement blocks and stone slabs are brought in lorries and unloaded  here and there.

There is hectic activity for a couple of days. Hope lives eternal in the human heart. One is deceived into thinking that the accumulated rubbish (which shouldn’t have accumulated in the first place) will be cleared. Repairs will be done. That’s where one is mistaken. After some slap-dash work, the team disappears, leaving behind unused materials, adding to the existing rubbish. The work is never fully completed and the materials are left to languish.

As we were trundling along a particularly rough stretch, I asked my young nephew if the dream of smooth roads and even pavements would be realised in my life time. “In your life time?” he snorted, deftly avoiding a yawning chasm. “The dream will not be realised even in my life time!” When will a modern day Hercules arrive to clean up the Bangalore stables?

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