in City Planning
morning about a month ago, a big board appeared next to the
school my child studies at. The school, which has been around
for several years, was one of the first few buildings to have
come up on a vast stretch of empty land, touted as a well-planned
residential 'city' of the future. This recent board with an
arrow pointing in the direction of a building under construction
read the name of another well-known school. So, we thought,
they are opening another branch here. Good for the students
in this area to have a host of excellent schools in close proximity.
nothing had prepared us for the chaos that ensued on the day
they formally opened this branch. By some contorted reasoning,
the new building opens on same road as the older school's side-exit.
I do not know, and here I must admit that I have not verified
it either, if it is meant as a permanent set-up, or was
purely an arrangement to accommodate the surplus surge of parents
on the first day of the school. Harmless as it may sound to
many, and even if we assume it was only for a day, you'll cringe
at this preposterous idea when you see that, with a little foresight
at the planning stage, they could well have had the functional
exit on the other side of the plot, to be serviced by the road
running parallel to this one. Just that the other roads that
could have been used by this school are narrow, and still not
properly laid out. Nor is the one on the other side of my son's
school, on which this school's traffic has been temporarily
diverted. It shows our shocking complacency with makeshift ad-hoc
arrangements. It is okay to have schools without roads in shape
first! That's contemporary city planning for us.
With a non-existent
school bus culture in Dhaka, you only need the blink your eyes
to visualise the pandemonium this set-up has wreaked, as I said
earlier, even if just on that one day. Two reputed schools,
with near identical starting hours in the morning, with hundreds
of students with their parents in the same number of cars, taxis
and rickshaws, all descending on that one narrow stretch of
road. That morning, we thought it was wiser to walk down that
last stretch. It looked liked the safest thing to do, given
that amid the dense nucleus of parents and new students outside
the main gate, there was little room for the vehicles to wade
through to the main entrance of my son's school.
the positive side of it. As always, the fathers stand to gain
the most. Variety wins over the ennui of having to see the same
old set of mothers coming to drop their wards off. Even if just
for a couple of days, a change is as good as a feast! I saw
The Hubby leave a good ten minutes earlier than normal, and
return half and hour late on the second day of the new school.
If he wanted me to find out more about his irrepressible grin,
I didn't oblige.
city planners have a bizarre sense of humour. They construct
'Lakeview' apartments with no lake's view, because the only
stretch of lake that was visible was reclaimed to construct
those very apartments. Planning for car parks don't feature
at the blue-print stage, and therefore almost as an afterthought,
the entire stretch of public road one kilometre on either side
of the building becomes their 'private' parking space. As a
special gesture of service-plus to their esteemed customers,
offering valet parking is the hottest, most fashionable thing
to do in the city.
planners also believe that unlike humans, concrete buildings
don't need to breathe, so it makes little business sense to
leave that extra inch between two buildings. After all, space
is at a premium, and no one can afford the luxury of a well-defined
boundary wall. But it is just as well, because you leave a couple
of feet between two buildings and the next thing you know is,
there is a multi-star hotel being erected overnight in that
gap. If it's not a hotel, it will be a shopping mall. You could
have planned one yourself, silly. Fusing walls, therefore, looks
like an intelligent thing to do.
at least, they have a sense of humour. You certainly
need to have one to give your apartments fascinating names ending
with Arcadia, Gardens, Riviera, Parks, Highlands, Bushes, and
so on, in the middle of a concrete jungle. Yes, even a Lakeview
is equally ironic.