Do you know the Marina Beach? The Man from Madras Musings alludes to the sandy strip by the sea that draws the populace in its thousands each evening, especially during summer. Each time MMM looks at it, and that is quite often, he feels like falling on his knees and offering thanks to whatever is that force that has thus far saved this lung from unwanted railway lines, multi-storeyed condominiums for the affluent, and other such encroachments.
But to get back to the point at issue, what MMM wanted to highlight was the populace descending on the place in the thousands, most of it being two-legged as opposed to the two-wheeled, four-wheeled and multi-wheeled varieties. Rather alarmed at this, the police, which largely concerns itself with the vehicular kind, has decreed that a stretch of the road running along the beach be one way. This is the portion between Kannagi (Perfection of Chastity as the pedestal reads, whatever that means) and the Triumph of Labour statues. Vehicles going towards Fort St George need to turn left at the Perfection of Chastity and go along Triplicane High Road and then turn right along either Victoria Hostel Road or Bells’ Road to emerge again on Wallajah Road from where they need to turn right to regain Beach Road in front of the Labour Statue. Those that are going towards lighthouse can go straight down Beach Road between the two statues at breakneck speed. At the statue of the lady with the raised anklet the two-way system resumes again.
An ideal system would have been to have Beach Road as one way throughout, with Mount Road, which is anyway a one-way along large patches thanks to the Metrorail, as the return path. But that is not what our guardians have thought feasible. As to what they hope to achieve by making just one part of Beach Road one way is beyond the comprehension of MMM.
At this point of time, none but the police is happy with the arrangement. The traffic going up towards Fort St George detests making the detour at Kannagi Statue. Victoria Hostel Road, which was possibly designed for horse carriages and broughams, is unable to handle a large volume of vehicles. As for Bells’ Road, the Corporation/CMWSSB/TANGEDCO or one of the other diggers have dug up the entire stretch leaving just a narrow ridge along the middle on which vehicles need to drive. Walking on eggshells would be an easier task. MMM made enquiries and was told that the road was dug up by an ‘appropriate authority’ who was also supposed to flatten it out. But the latter task was probably left for the vehicles that are forced to drive along this stretch. MMM could not help reflecting that the various appropriate authorities who govern our lives work in biblical fashion. The activities of one are rarely known to the other, rather like the left and right hands as decreed in the good book.
Unlike the up traffic, the down traffic is delighted with the one way, between the Labour and Kannagi statues that is. Seeing a four-lane road that is devoid of traffic in the opposite direction, vehicles rush headlong, until they come to the chaste lady with the anklet. Here the four-way suddenly becomes a two-way once again, resulting in a huge bottleneck. There is much honking, cursing, swearing, jumping of lanes and other standard behaviour the Chennai driver indulges in. Several make use of the halt to open their doors and spit out that wad of tobacco that has for long been chewed. Add to this the pedestrians who cross just about anywhere other than the earmarked crossings and you have a heady mix. The police, however, as MMM said before, think it has given satisfaction. After all, it is the thought that counts.