A Conscious Commute
It’s human nature that routines and monotony takes away the joy of things that you would have experienced otherwise. The likewise was in my case. My first few weeks of the commute to my university were very interesting as it is a 30 minute drive to another city; I wanted to capture every new thing that I saw, the river view, the barrage, the barren lands along the way. However, through the time, it all felt the same and uninteresting. With the lack of interest descended the feeling of getting used to, which deprives human of the things worth observing such as any problems that had to be addresses otherwise. Not until now, I felt that I had anything in my commute that needed to be altered for a smoother journey. Past one week, I re-observed my commute, gradually issues and some really grave issues started to appear to me.
My usual practice begins at 7:05am in the morning when I walk two streets away from my home to catch a bus at 7:10am. The entrance to the place I live in is adorned with the garbage that we throw out of our houses. I did not have to walk more than a few yards that I came up this issues of garbage all around. In front of houses, schools, busy shops and literally any place that had some empty space must be filled with some litter.
As I approach my bus, the weather was nice so glanced over the sky and the view had a beautiful sky (pink sky) along bundles of tangled wires. My vision extended to the Pole-Mounted Transformer (PMT)at the corner of the street, and beyond, there were uneven wires moving across the street, touching windows of houses, and anything they could be rested at. As an Engineer majoring in Electrical Power, this site seemed no less than a self-harm practice, both for safety precautions and the unauthorized use of electricity, what we call ‘Kundas’ in urdu.
These not properly arranged wires are a cause of power outages and local mishaps, accidents too, that have taken human lives.
While pacing forward I had to slow down as there was a crowd of people along the way at the ATM. This immediately reminded me that this is the start of the month. At the beginning of every month, it’s a usual practice for us to observe these crowds, coming to the ATM before dawn, awaiting in lines for hours, frustratingly pushing each other to have their turn. These individuals are not the people withdrawing their salaries, but the poor people who have to withdraw their grants given by the government. ( Benazir Income Support Program popular in Sindh and Ehsaas Program) This site always hindered my thoughts, though the initiation of such programs might be the support of the underprivileged, but in the long-term as time has observed, these grants seem to have added to their difficulties; most people do not even know how to use an ATM, benefitting from which , many sick heads trick these people into taking an amount from their grants. Moreover, when awarded with grants every month, there is no drive in the people do do something out of their own capabilities and resources. This contributes in producing a dependent youth and individuals paralyzed to the grants.
Catching the bus from the street end, I rode towards my university. After 15 minutes of transit, I reached at toll-plaza. While toll plazas are to take toll for the government, but there are few other tolls that these plazas charge of the commuters and the people standing by it i.e. the sense of self-respect and ethical stubbornness. There are women and children standing at these points begging for a few ounces. Filled with kindness and mercy, people give them alms. But is it really the kind of help they need? Does it not deprive them of their self-worth and basic human decency? Does it not drive them ignorant of their natural abilities and capabilities that they would otherwise use for making a difference in their lives? The answers to all of the questions is Yes, it does. For me, this is a grave problem in our society which would often get you into a dilemma.
Enroute I also observed that there is a lake which I did not know about before. Soon I realized that it was not a site of lake but sewerage water accumulated from a housing society beside. Accumulated water definitely is the home to water-borne diseases, seepages in houses. While dengue is prevalent in the country nowadays, this accumulation is alarming.