Every day, E. Saraswathi spends at least four hours on the road, not in a bus or on a two-wheeler, but on foot.
The 40-year-old, who works as a domestic help, walks from her house in Mettukuppam near Virugambakkam to her workplace in Rail Nagar near Koyambedu via Nerkundram.
“It takes at least 45 minutes to reach Virugambakkam from my house. The frequency of buses is poor. From Virugambakkam, I have to take another bus to Koyambedu and then, a share auto to Rail Nagar. This will cost me both time and money. I decided to walk as I wanted to save both,” she says.
Her day begins at 4 a.m. After preparing food for her husband and son, she leaves home at 9 a.m. and reaches Rail Nagar by 11 a.m. “I do not eat anything in the morning as then it becomes difficult to walk,” she says. She finishes work at 4 p.m.
As she sets out to return home, Saraswathi encounters innumerable hurdles. She reaches Poonamallee High Road from Rail Nagar after stopping a couple of times to allow vehicles cross the small bridge in the area. Rail Nagar does not have pavements and residents walk on the road to reach the main road.
“First of all, crossing the stretch is an arduous task. I cannot walk on the pavement as there are several obstructions,” she says. The footpaths are either occupied or broken in places. Thick shrubs have grown near the pavements in some places, while shops have occupied the space in others.
On the busy Poonamallee High Road, Saraswathi has to watch out for vehicles whizzing past. “In some places, the rains have left a pool of stagnant water, pushing me further into the road,” she says.
She reaches home only by 6 p.m. “My legs ache a lot due to the walking but I have got used to it,” she says.
(Contributed by Serena Josephine M.)
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Keywords: Right to Walk, My Chennai My Right, Chennai Corporation, The Hindu campaign, The Hindu's campaign, pedestrians, Chennai pavements, pavements in Chennai, pedestrian safety in Chennai, footpaths in Chennai, pedestrian experiences