Saturday, July 13, 2024

Shillong Jottings


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Shillong and its Sunday slumber
A day without traffic, where you can walk freely and enjoy the serene streets, of the city. This dream becomes a reality—but only on Sundays. Markets are closed, shops have their shutters down, and families are enjoying their time together. It’s the perfect day for a leisurely stroll, but heaven help you if you have an emergency.
When Sunday rolls around, even emergency services seem to take a well-deserved rest. Doctors are unavailable, and finding an open pharmacy is like going out for a treasure hunt. This unfortunate reality struck one this Shillong Jottings members, who found themselves in dire need of medication.
The quest began with a frantic search for an open pharmacy, in all the important locations of the city, including Laitumkhrah and Khyndailad. After scouring the city, every shop was closed. Desperation set in as attempts to find a doctor at private clinics proved futile. The last hope was the government hospital, but even there, the number of available staff was as sparse as the traffic on the streets.
Finally, the contacts came to the rescue when one kind pharmacy shop owner decided to open their shutters.
What does this mean for the citizens of Shillong? It appears that emergencies are not welcome on Sundays. Perhaps even the Lord should reconsider any plans for mortal pickups until Monday.
So, if you happen to fall sick on a Sunday, enjoy the peace and quiet. Just cross your fingers and hope that any emergencies can wait until the city wakes up from its Sunday slumber.

Navigating pedestrian zones
Time and again, there’s a rallying cry for residents to ditch their four-wheelers and embrace walking to alleviate traffic congestion, starting from bureaucrats and to the Chief Minister.
But a pertinent question arises: where exactly is one supposed to walk?
The footpaths here have double as marketplaces and obstacle courses, and more often than not pedestrians are left to fend for themselves. Hawkers claim their spots, leaving little room for those actually trying to walk. Add to that the occasional broken electric pole and a miscellany of other obstacles, and it becomes clear that these paths are anything but pedestrian-friendly.
And let’s not spare the two-wheelers who think that any lane available is a place for them to ride in, and designated pedestrian zones are just narrower lanes for them to ride in.
So, while the idea of walking to reduce traffic is commendable, but what sounds good, is only the idea, not it’s practicality.
One must first master the art of navigating obstacles of Shillong’s sidewalks. Until then, the dream of a pedestrian paradise remains just that — a dream.

A half-torn Triclouris seen erected at Bivar Road, in the city on Saturday. (Photo by Sanjib Bhattacharjee).

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