Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Let there be light

The dark city streets hide a number of demons

During a discussion over lemonade with my fellow journo friends, it came to light that the city streets can be safe at night, if they were well illuminated. An elderly member of the group started by saying how he had been an eyewitness to a mobile snatch-and-run incident in the Indiranagar area, where the victim was a woman in her teens. Now this is an upmarket and up-marked area by civic authorities.
As the discussion carried on from one incident to another, the dim lights in the smoky bar started to get brighter. Another friend added that during the 70s and 80s women in the city could freely walk the streets, even in the darkest of places without being troubled by shadow attackers or stray dogs of whom one finds in large numbers, as the city has grown from a garrison fort to one where monkey-top roofs have given way to multiplexes, with tech-filled, ear-plugged human robots.
The immediate thought that crossed my mind was the superb street light conditions fotog’s had in the 80s. My memory raced back to a rain picture I had taken for a leading English daily, and some midnight fires and spot-crime scenes, without the help of a strobe. These images tell a tale of their own, since for any good journalism a picture requires a sense of aura to keep the reader’s view fixed to the image.
Over the past two decades, as the city grew from one phase to another, the civic authorities have not been able to upgrade the civic amenities at an equal pace, or rather they have preferred to turn a Nelson’s Eye on these very basic needs of a growing metropolis.
I, for one, have missed most of the city’s growth over the past 15 years or so, as I moved to the nation’s capital for better career growth. I returned to see the city’s backyards cramped for space, vanishing lung space, bad roads, paucity of water, and to top it all, badly lit lanes.
In my opinion, using the recent sanction of Rs22,000 crore for the development of the ever-bulging city, the civic bodies should look to brighten the streets which will enable the night walkers to walk free from stalking and being barked at, and at the same time provide sufficient light for fotogs like me to take a decent image without the use of my strobe.
The last thing I will like to add is that if the streets are well lit, working women in this 24x7 city will be able to take their night back with pride, rather than the present scenario where they are forced to hide by chide.

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