The Real India

Traffic on a street in Patna

Ideas take a long time to ripen. Around the beginning of the century half the human population finally moved into cities. Ripe to overripe takes a short time; I now read that by the end of this decade about two thirds of India’s population will probably move to cities. This thought struck me as I moved very slowly through traffic in a smaller city in India.

What is smaller? A population about halfway between that of Barcelona and Madrid, and a bit more than a tenth of Mumbai’s is what passes for small here. The tremendous growth of cities means that space is scarce. Land use patterns are the same as before, so housing, work and leisure districts have each become denser. Many more people then need to move between these areas, so transport is the big new problem.

Flying in to Patna after a decade, tremendous changes are visible. Great efforts have been made to manage traffic in the central part of the town. Extensive systems of flyovers are portals between the east and west of the town. The centre still gets crowded, but no more so than a decade ago.

It is in one of the older parts of the city that I took this photo. The variety of traffic on the road amazed me. The man walking down the middle of the road is moving faster than the average speed of other vehicles. The slowdown in caused mainly by hawkers parking carts full of merchandise in the middle of the road, or, as in the photo, trying to push it against the traffic!

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Author: I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.

4 thoughts on “The Real India”

  1. Either locals are very patient or the roads are very noisy! (Lots of honking.) I live in a city of about twelve million, but the traffic generally flows at an acceptable clip. I’ve certainly never seen animals clopping along with vehicles! I hope the road systems there can catch up to the population growth!

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  2. Great post. I was amazed at the river of traffic when last in Kerala. A two laned road catered for 6 or 7 lanes, trucks, cars, bicycles, carts, foot traffic, cows, all weaving their way slowly and politely along the road. It was packed and extremely chaotic in an ordered kind of way.

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