Entering the busy Triplicane High Road from the Wallajah Road side, the pavement space is blocked by a range of parked vehicles. A board tacked atop a tree by the Triplicane Police Station warns the public that this was a ‘no parking area,’ but the city’s public paid scant heed to the warning -- parking their vehicles right in front of it.
As one walks down the road, one side of which is dotted by countless restaurants — big and small, selling piping hot kebabs and biryanis to those working in showrooms selling shoes and mobile phones and data cards.
The traders deftly take over the pavement spaces outside their stores by extending their counters a bit or by placing ware for sale there. This is mostly done by small food outlets and juice shops. In the evenings, the kebab grills, with pieces of marinated meat barbecued to perfection, large Tawas, churning out meat fries and massive vessels handing out portions of biryani dot the pavements. Outside the juice shops, the pavement abutting the store turns into an outdoor arena, with a few rickety plastic stools are thrown in and a group of youngsters lounging about -- sipping on their colourful juices while chatting about the ongoing Indian Premier League matches.
(The pavement space is blocked by a range of parked vehicles)
The pavement, in many spaces, is used as storage space - with pushcarts, grills, paint cans and other tools of trade on one hand and on the other, a living space for a homeless family.
As one walks down the road, the food stalls are replaced by other outlets - selling shoes and mobile phones. One shoe outlet had constructed a permanent concrete rectangular structure to showcase their ware. Outside a Jio Digital showroom, the larger-than-life standees force the pedestrians to walk on the main road, negotiating the peak hour traffic. On the other side of the road, gargantuan banners dominate the landscape, blocking the pedestrian space.
Many of the higher end stores had built steps on the pavement, leading to the shop, halving the sidewalk and leaving the pedestrian to walk on the streets. Outside a mobile showroom, a group of men were sitting on colourful stools laid out on the pavement, enjoying the evening. At many parts of the Triplicane High Road, the pavements were dotted with extensions of the storm water drain or exposed electricity cables jutting out on the surface.
(Traders deftly take over the pavement spaces outside their stores by extending their counters a bit or by placing wares for sale there)
At one point, the pavement was taken over by a transformer, which had turned into a garbage dump yard. The Corporation trash collection bin had given legitimacy to dumping - from food and household waste to mattresses and construction debris on the pavement. A brown cow was leisurely foraging for food on the green bins while an auto driver was openly urinating on the construction debris piled up.
The pavements of Triplicane High Road are pockmarked with tales of violations. This and a saga of official apathy, force the pedestrians to cede the spaces meant for them, forcing them to walk on the carriageway - a fact that pedestrians have made their peace with.
This series will look into the state of pavements across the city, which are increasingly being lost or encroached upon. If you have been robbed of your pavement, write to us. Send us a note and a picture, and we will carry it in this column. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org