The Man from Madras Musings has often heard of the expression that it is from chaos that order was born. Sir Theyagaroya Road in T’Nagar appears to disprove this maxim for here you can see chaos born from what was once order. Time was when this arterial road leading to Panagal Park was a lovely stretch with a broad carriageway, sidewalks, and trees lining both sides. Then it degenerated into chaos with the sidewalks being encroached upon, the trees cut down, vehicles taking over much of the road space and hawkers given the run of the road overall. Mind you, MMM is all for hawking (and by that he does not mean the variety where you sport a hooded hunting bird on a gloved hand) but like everything in the city, it needs to be regulated.
And then, after having allowed chaos to reign supreme, order of a kind was re-imposed, the High Court throwing its weight behind the move. The hawkers were banished into an airless multi-storey structure and the footpaths freed up. Suddenly you found people walking around on Sir Theyagaroya Road. That was until a fresh batch of hawkers took over the space vacated by the earlier lot. The administration turned a blind eye for after all the High Court was only concerned with the earlier lot of hawkers and not the new ones, get it? As for cars, they continued being parked in haphazard fashion all over the place. Touts emerged, no doubt backed by local politicos, and controlled hawking and parking. MMM is quite certain that they collected money far more efficiently than any agency of the administration.
It was then that a bright spark, whoever that was, came up with the idea of making Sir Theyagaroya Road a completely pedestrian thoroughfare. No cars will be allowed declared the spark and the admin, no doubt caught in a weak moment, agreed. Overnight, the footpath, which was around four feet in width, was expanded several times over, the same happening to the footpath on the opposite side. An army of labourers descended on the road, together with tons of what is our State’s official building material – granite. Work began on converting the roadway into one enormous sidewalk, spanning the whole road.
The shops then must have staged a protest. The admin developed cold feet. In any case such revolutionary ideas are never welcome in an election year. It was decided then that a road has to exist between the two sidewalks. As a consequence, what we now have are two huge sidewalks with a narrow passageway for vehicles in the centre. MMM, driving down this stretch just a week ago, was powerfully reminded of the geographic feature known as an isthmus – a narrow strip of land connecting two landmasses and separating two bodies of water. Sir Theyagaroya Road is now an isthmus – it connects Panagal Park to Mount Road and separates two huge sidewalks that threaten to overrun it at any time.
The hawkers are delighted, for they now have a huge platform to sell their wares from. Cars and two-wheelers are now mounted on the sidewalks and parked there, blessed by the local thugs. Those that drive about have to crawl, the road having narrowed to such an extent. On the other hand, there are some that ride their two-wheelers on the footpaths, at breakneck speeds. All around are pavement layers, working on the granite and not noticing what is happening at all. Theirs not to question why. In short chaos is king.