When E. Femil moved to Iyyapanthangal around one and a half years back, she tried to walk to the bus terminus from her house located at the end of Oil Mill Road, but in vain.

“There is no semblance of a footpath, and a part of the road has been widened only recently. I now park my two-wheeler near the bus stop, and take a bus to university. If I had a choice, I would definitely walk,” says Femil who is pursuing her doctorate in psychology.

She leaves home at 8.45 in the morning after sending her daughter to school. This is also the time when a lot of vehicles and pedestrians are on the road. Walking to the bus stop, which is just a kilometre away, on a Saturday afternoon is no less challenging.

As she sets out, there is an auto, and then a car, parked within a short distance from each other. She is forced to walk in the middle of the road. Just a few steps later, a huge pile of sand lays strewn, covering almost half the road. The sand spills over to the other half too. She waits for an oncoming car to pass, and treads carefully without slipping on the sand.

“I avoid walking with my four-year-old daughter. Even when I have to go to the bank or to the grocery shop, I either carry her or take an auto,” she says. A few blocks later, the wide road narrows down and she walks on an uneven stretch.

“Because of indiscriminate parking and construction material thrown on the road, I often have to cross from one side to the other. And, when two heavy vehicles cross each other, we have to move to a corner. I have to look behind and ahead of me when walking,” she says. The walk to the main road is full of hurdles. Parked lorries, stacked bricks, two-wheelers parked outside shops, and ramps from homes extending to the road, and other pedestrians.

The main road opposite the bus stop offers no respite from the chaotic interior road. As soon as she turns, she has to find her way around a bullock cart carrying mangoes. She dangerously walks as buses, cars, share autos and two-wheelers come in her direction. She finally reaches the bus stop. She loves to walk, she says, but stretches such as these have only made her more wary of the road.

Talk Back

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(Contributed by Asha Sridhar)

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