Finding a spot to park, usually at school zones or residential areas or hospitals and offices, can be quite a task, that the joy on your face on finding your P-Spot, is almost always irrepressible. Our Parking Nightmare has been slowly unfolding before our eyes. Independent bungalows that have given rise to multi storeyed apartments, have led to a strain not just on the water table but even on parking space. Where there were five or six members of a family in a single house, there are now at least twelve or more apartments with about fifty inhabitants. That’s just the genesis. Vehicle loans have made cars so affordable, that families that used to own a bike, today have a four wheeler, those who had a car, now have two. Imagine the pressure it puts on parking space. The symptoms of this acute scarcity are there for all to see and a mere description makes for an interesting read.
Larger Than Life Watchmen
The most crucial job description of the security guard at many residential and commercial complexes is to ensure exclusive use of the property’s frontage. The slightest hint of a visitor eyeing a parking space outside the building is enough to galvanise these watchmen into frenzied action, sometimes, even giving them a delusionary feel of Police Commissioners or SPG commandos. To be fair, their anxiety is not wholly unjustified, as the rest of this piece will reveal.
Common sense is such a scarce commodity. What else would explain why some morons park outside gates, lock their vehicles and do the vanishing act. That there are residents who may have to rush out to a hospital in an emergency with an elderly relative or a child, is evidently lost on these motorists. I’ve seen countless facebook complaints about this menace, with suggestions ranging from slashing the tyres to throwing eggs on their windscreens to teach them a lesson. Assuming, there is no urgency and you choose to wait patiently to drill some sense into the obstructor’s head on his eventual return, brace yourself for a sheepish grin and a quick getaway. If you’re lucky, a faint sorry accompanied with a rider “it was just for a minute.” Of course, one minute depends on which side of the gate you are!
Grill Gates Galore:
The new fad is for Residents’ Associations and builders is to dispense with the compound wall and instead erect grill gates right across the property. This effectively means you cannot park anywhere along that stretch. Where there was one or two gates, there are now five or six. If every building resorts to this practice, we will need valet parking even to meet friends!
Red Signal from Green Thumbs:
No one pays heed to the sponsored ‘No Parking’ boards outside buildings. So some street smart residents have conveniently developed green thumbs. A line of potted plants right next to pavements, wherever they exist, is to prevent people from parking anywhere along the wall, not just in front of the gate. I know of peevish folks who even privately put gravel on pavements, ostensibly and literally to prevent the cows from coming home, but the sinsister motive is to ward off pedestrians.
Extending the LoC:
The ‘camel in the tent’ doctrine applies squarely to business establishments that brazenly redraw their boundaries and enforce them with hired staff. Pavements are easy meat as an extension of their business spaces. Don’t ever try parking (or walking) there if you don’t intend being their customer. The hassle becomes acute when these illegally appropriated spaces are in the vicinity of educational institutions. The power of ‘mamool’ may sometimes drown the legitimate voices of aggrieved citizens. The opposite of this practice is not to have any parking and not bother to make arrangements either, despite having large footfalls, like certain Consular offices.
Park & Scoot:
We’ve all heard of ‘hit and run’. My walking buddy recently informed me about the ‘Park and Scoot’ trick of drivers. Solely due to space constraints, they park at available spaces, often even a few kilometres away from their destination or work spots, and then hop onto autos or cabs for the rest of their journey. The more hardened types end up parking at residential areas before going out of town. The thick coating of dust on such vehicles is a giveway. And can prompt cautious residents to alert the cops, just to rule out any danger.
Today you need a driver not so much to weave through chaotic traffic but to park!
(Sanjay Pinto is an Advocate practising at the Madras High Court, a Columnist, Author, TV Political Analyst, Public Speaking Mentor & Former Resident Editor – NDTV 24×7)