Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Natun Guwahati

Guwahati landscape has changed drastically over the last few years. First there were three flyovers and now a expressway. On my last visit to my home sweet home, I proceeded on the pilgrimage of Doul Govinda in the new Maruti 800 my mother had purchased for such trips when we visit home once a year. From Beltola - Survey, I took the newly built 4 lane National Highway from Basistha Chariali. Applied pressure on the accelerator got increased with every passing second and the vehicle zoomed as much its engine permitted. Soon it reached 80 plus kmph. I missed the power and the fifth gear of my Wagon R. Did you ever thought of getting a road in Guwahati where you can drive at 80 plus? It is true that we have one now in our city. Only irritant were the rickshaws which keeps coming to you on your side. Unable or not willing to cross the road where it is possible, they just turn on the side they ply. There is no police to stop them. I felt like crushing these buggers who ply violating riles of the road with a bulldozer. Other danger was that many Guwahatians are still not aware of lane driving. They will come close to you and honk at you for side rather than overtaking you by changing lane.

City is expanding to this side because of this expressway. Earlier the area beyond Lakhara had only the Balaji Temple. Now there are few schools including the DPS which has come up. The ISBT will also be ready soon. Real Estate prices have also soared. We had purchased a plot for about 25K a katha around 1998. Prices have gone to anything above 1.5 lakh a katha here.

Moving ahead on the road, I had reached the Jalukbari chariali. Jalukbari chariali ? Where has it gone -- the old Jalukbari chariali ? The place has changed totally. A big traffic round-about has replaced the old charilai -- a place we frequented during our university days. It now actually says --Welcome to Guwahati!

Few other roads have also undergone drastic changes. Beltola road from Last gate to Basistha Chariali is now 100 feet wide. Many shops and buildings close to the main road had to undergo alterations. I do not know whether they got any compensation. Similarly, the narrow Hatigaon road behind the MLA Hostel at Dispur, which used to be totally covered by rickshaws, is now a four lane road with dividers. A traffic roundabout has been put in place at the point where this road starts behind the MLA hostel. There was a daily market near the ASEB office which is no more. But there still is the GNB Road, the same old narrow GNB Road where you will invariably meet traffic jam anytime of the day. It can not take the ever burgeoning traffic of Guwahati. I heard that this time concrete steps have been taken to widen this road.

Traffic in Guwahati is increasing furiously fast. Increase in disposable income had resulted in almost everyone getting a vehicle. When I purchased my Wagon R in end Dec,2002, it got one of the last 100 numbers of AS-01-N series. The new car we had purchased in first week of April, 2005 got a 2000 series number in As-01-V. That is more than 62K vehicle have been added to Guwahati in less than two and half years time.

There were almost nil power cuts during my entire stay during the bihu. Weather was nice. But bihu this time was thandaa. But the picture halls were playing outdated movies. I was told that after the ULFA dictat on banning screening of hindi movies, they carried out a blast in Vandana cinema hall. As such, people are scared to go for movies at cinema halls. Suffering losses, they are forced to run outdated movies.

Overall, I felt nice going home after a year. Hope, facilities in Guwahati improves further.

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