Thursday, October 22, 2009
The story of a changing city
Hyderabad, I've realized for the second time in a very short span of time, changes every second. It didn't feel the same when I arrived a few days ago for a brief visit - I had to take care of a few pressing personal issues (read money matters - hahaha!!!).
First things first - let me make it very clear that it was cough, and not my husband, that greeted me and my daughter on platform number 4 at the Secunderabad Railway Station as soon as we got off the Visakha Express. And we kept coughing without a break till about an hour after we reached home! No, it's neither cold nor swine flu, or the AC compartment, that made us cough incessantly. It was the pollution levels in the city that caused it. Either the pollution was rather high than the last time we came (which was just about a month ago) or maybe our sensitivity level has changed.
Hmmm, looks like the Hyderabadi roads are never bereft of vehicles or people. Unlike in the USA where you'll need to hunt for a single soul to help you find the right direction, Hyderabad is just too full of inquisitive onlookers who're ever willing to offer unwanted help.
Having come from a small sleepy hamlet for a sojourn, we felt burdened by each extra vehicle and human being that appeared on the city roads. As most people in our tiny beach town either walk down or go on the completely environmental-friendly bicycle, I find it particularly suffocating when I see a lot of vehicles moving fast, mostly vying for space or attention.
The next thing that caught my attention was the nonstop blaring horn(s) of the ambulance. It wasn't like I didn't know of the existence of ambulances earlier but the lack of these vehicles in our part of the country probably makes me react much more strongly now. I was kind of scared by the increase in the number of ambulances and the frequency of their trips on the roads.
While things I found in excess suffocated me, things which I found to be fewer, scarce and rare left me feeling deprived!
Stars (not the acting types but the twinkling little ones) are a rarity here. Even a quiet walk on the terrace didn't help me spot even a handful of them on a so-called starry night. Bright lights from every nook and corner of the city lit up the sky and dominated these celestial bodies.
For a beach lover surrounded by water mostly, accepting that water is another rare commodity in this city was difficult. For most part of my trip I felt like a fish struggling to survive in a polluted lake.
And I kept feeling sorry for all my city-dweller friends who're forced to bear the cacophony of vehicles and the constant honking which make it impossible to listen to the voice of the nature. It is really sad that we don't listen to or acknowledge simple sights and sounds anymore; something as simple as the sounds of chirping birds, raindrops falling on soft sand or even on a concrete road, rustling of leaves against the blowing wind or the soft breeze - both sounds are different if you listen carefully - are lost on the Hyderabadi crowd.
Isn't it sad that it is so very difficult to spot simple species of birds like sparrows and crows in a crowded city? Don't people feel suffocated breathing the polluted air every single minute of their lives? I wonder if immunity is a good thing, after all!! Isn't it strange that nobody wants to break away from the shackles of the city, and experience/enjoy the difference? With these thoughts troubling my mind, I just had to run back to my quiet hamlet...