Run wild and free
At the onset of the pandemic and subsequent imposed lockdown, the need for open, green spaces has suddenly become a much sought after getaway. Physical isolation has propelled the instinctive reflex to break free from the pandemic-imposed cage and to breathe the fresh air of freedom where space is not a constraint. Shillong city has turned into an urban sprawl with only the cantonment areas conserving their piece of greenery. Other than the meadows around the Shillong Golf Course, there are very few open spaces where kids can run around and enjoy their freedom and adults have some ‘me’ time. In these new yet strange times, when people are confined to their homes and much more time is dedicated to gadgets and smartphones while they negotiate a virtual world, in their hearts they do miss out on meeting real people and engaging with them and even physically expending energy playing on open grounds. It is now that Shillongites realise the lack of recreation ground and open spaces which are integral to our overall health and well-being. Delhi has its Lodi Gardens, what does Shillong have for the weary soul? There is an Urban Affairs department but no urban planning in sight. So what’s all the planning about and we are looking at turning this into a Smart City? High hopes!
Aesthetics/Safety or both?
In the most recent development in the city, our very own Wards Lake is seen with white garden fences placed around the steep turns of the pathways surrounding the lake. Strategically placed where the land distance from the water body is hardly inches away, it would occur to the onlooker that its designed for safety. On casually asking the staff members of the Lake, none had any definite answer. Built in the British era, our colonial predecessors brought with them the idea akin to that of the lakes in England visited and thronged by the public for recreational purposes as well as to reconnect with nature. Hence, if safety were to be the primary goal, it would only seem logical to have the entire lake fenced off? But if the fence is intended to add to the aesthetics, then why not also add beaming lights after sundown or even mend the iconic bridge? While we leave our readers to visit and decide for themselves, we shall continue to bask in the glory of the Lake’s iconic placement and picturesque beauty.
Atypical driving practice
Something distinctive about driving in Shillong is the rather eccentric use of driving indicators or blinkers by drivers here. This could well cause confusion for those trailing from behind. Going by the book, when one learns driving then one also learns to indicate to the driver behind whether one is taking a ‘right’ or ‘left’ turn by using the indicator lights. But Shillong being Shillong, there are curious twists and turns at every juncture. In what could be called an uncharacteristic driving protocol, most drivers while deciding to halt at a particular place suddenly set off an indicator button blinking right. Normally a right indication would suggest that that car would possibly be taking a right turn. In this pine city, however, that indicator apparently is a signal for the car behind to ‘drive ahead,’ in other words it is giving a ‘pass’ to the car behind. Unusual? Yes. Confusing? Maybe (especially if one is new in town). Courteous? Yes, very much. Amongst many other things unique only to Shillong, this one too makes it to that bucket list.
Defying the cold nights
In the dead of the night, braving the chilly weather of Shillong, they toil, toil in their endeavour towards renovating a stretch of the city roads. Over the past few days, the SJ team had spotted the men at work blacktopping the G.S. Road (Anjalee Point), which was barricaded by Meghalaya Police to debar uncalled-for entry by people. Notwithstanding the temperature, which would more often than not hover between 7-10 degree Celsius, they would continue to revamp the stretch night after cold and frosty night. And while these men toiled the night away, those driving past during the day marvel at the miraculous transformation of the otherwise pot-holed road.. The work they put in, while the city folks are cozily curled up in their warm beds, is laudable.