Travel…and life’s learning
They say, traveling is good; it teaches a lot. Recently, I got a chance to visit London on a vacation. Beautiful city it is, surrounded with thousands of years’ history and culture. It is any traveller’s delight and you wouldn’t just field bored – there is so much to see!
However, even after two months of coming back from this vacation, two images have stuck with me. These images aren’t of any historical monument, museum, fashion high street, fort or the superb weather the city could be proud of. The images that have stayed with me are of something that helped me gauge the depth of the civic consciousness of the people of London and the society at large.
Now, you’d look at the adjoining image and may say, “Well, Rishi may be a tennis fan and would be overwhelmed to visit the Mecca of tennis! What’s the fuss all about?”
I would urge you to carefully look at the adjoining image. You would notice a marvelous, lush green grass-court and a well-built seating set-up around it. You’d observe, in the second & enlarged image, a different-looking, vastly spacious seating arrangement. If you are assuming they are meant for the players, their coaches or families, or for the VIPs, as we would call it in India, you’re mistaken. These seats are meant for the common tennis-fan on wheelchair, who would be seated in the gaps between the two seats, not requiring alighting from their wheelchairs, while their attendant can comfortably be seated on the adjoining seat affixed on the ground.
Those of you who follow the game of tennis even slightly, would know it costs a bomb to acquire a seat inside the courts of the Wimbledon. And here we observe, the seating spaces have been specially built keeping in view of the special needs of the differently-abled. The society didn’t just stop at only giving them all rights in the books of constitution et al, but provided a realistic opportunity & comfort to enjoy the game live in front of their eyes; not making them feel incapacitated to do so, while compromising to watch it on the TV! Awesome, isn’t it?
You’d observe several similar, simple yet profound, infrastructural developments all over the city – in buses, on roads, even in underground tube-stations. The respect for every individual and genuine care for the needs of every segment of the society is amply demonstrated in every nook and corner of the city.
The second image that has stayed with me is of the highest level of self-discipline and mannerisms the people of the city live their daily lives with. One very simple, yet compelling, sight is of people using the escalators. The discipline of using an escalator is astonishing – you just wouldn’t miss it. In my ten-day stay, I didn’t notice a single person standing and occupying the left side of the escalator, even during the mad-rush of the office-hours. Those who want to relax & aren’t in a hurry stand on their right and let the machine do the job; the left side remains vacated for anyone who wants to move faster by stepping-up on their own! You would notice the same in the adjoining image. No one tells the citizens to do so! It is all being learnt and adhered to as a matter of self-discipline by the commuters – of all age. And if you are a tourist and don’t know the rule, one look around over this magnificent act of civic consciousness chastises you on its own, in no time!
You’d notice similar acts all around you – you’d bump into someone while walking; people say sorry, even if it were your fault! Drivers stop before the zebra crossing allowing pedestrians to cross, without scaring them to death. No one jumps the queue – they are so many of them in the city! Truly infectious the culture, it is…
Then, I came back to Gurgaon – the millennium city. One look at the IFFCO crossing, and it says it all. And if you think it is the non-educated who are at fault; look twice, you’d observe you and me on this road, flouting all possible traffic norms, day-in and day-out.
The city of malls boasts of superb escalators – with almost everyone standing bang in the middle of the steps, both hands on the moving railings, giving no room whatsoever to any one in hurry!
There is a mad frenzy for cricket, and huge money too. Yet, our stadiums building special places for IPL fans on wheelchairs – that’s alien as of now. May be, our current Hon. President and Hon. House Speaker will pick up these lessons on their every-37th-day foreign visits and compel the parliamentarians to really help build infrastructure for an inclusive society.
Civic consciousness. Now, what the heck that is? Well, instead of being a victim to the ‘holier than thou‘ syndrome, I have learnt and now only stand on the right side of the escalator. I am sure many fellow travelers and readers will follow suit.
Traveling is good, isn’t it?