Monday, September 7, 2009

The Parlour under the Bridge.

Sounds very cliché doesn’t it? No, you guessed wrong! It’s not a harlequin romance or some cheesy chic-lit. It’s an actual ice cream parlour under the Marine Drive Bridge, here in the heart of the Kochi city! While it certainly has a name by itself, I fancy my tasteful title to be the better contender. Besides, I’m sure they’d appreciate the anonymity! 

When Onam celebrations at the office concluded with a delightful walk down the Marine Drive and at the parlour under it’s bridge, I was a bit miffed, being the self proclaimed ice cream aficionado that I am, that something so picturesque managed to completely escape my sights and taste buds. The ice cream, while it wont be giving Baskin Robbins a run for its money anytime soon, has a certain appeal to it when you eat it watching the waters and breathing in its salty air.

This brings us back to what I initially intended to speak about. The architecture is a fine example of Urban Planning and space utilization. The Parlour is not immediately visible when you glance at Marine Drive and that’s its only drawback. Its clientele are probably regular visitors to the area who clearly know the spot. But the parlour, advertised to be Greater Kochi’s attempt at beautifying our city, has achieved at least two of its goals. It’s certainly relaxing to watch the boats passing by while you recline there and it is most definitely neat and tidy, which is, unfortunately more than you can say for most places in Kochi.

It’s neatly tucked away under the Bridge thereby reducing clutter which would have occurred, say, had the structure been smack dab in the middle of Drive! And by artfully fitting it under the Bridge, GCDA managed to do something else as well (which am not sure has come to their attention yet) and that is reduce littering space for Kochieties. We are an interesting breed in that any space that we know to be relatively empty and not being somebody else’s parking lot, we’re more than happy to pile it with garbage and let the same rot and fill the air with its fragrance. It seems that by ensuring a lack of empty spaces alone, will we be able to remedy this problem!

And speaking of space utilization, I fail to understand why the empty spaces under the four main bridges dotting the city cannot be put to a better use. True, some are over rivers and parallel to railway lines. Nor do I insist that there be an ice cream parlour under every bridge. But I still encounter a lot of free urban space. This is why it can be converted to a parking lot, an auto stand, a government run hotel or even better, public toilets! How convenient would it seem to a vary traveller, to find the most basic amenities close at hand and together!

Further, Kochi has been on a mad drive to make itself eco-friendly. What of the many bus stands within the city? With buses parked this way and that, a true estimate of the actual space in a bus stand is never really made. If buses would, for once forgoing their chaotic way of life, line up in an orderly fashion, I warrant there would be space enough for some creative construction. And what better way to do so than ensuring a vehicle parking lot-and-cycle rental under the Bridge? Vehicles can be parked under the bridge and people can rent cycles and take off into the city. Eco-friendly and Efficient!

What, a bit to advanced for you? Not that I blame you. I personally know people who enjoy the clutter of the city and I will grudgingly admit to having been its closet fan in the past. But not at the expense of urban progress.

There was a time when such urban creative constructions were touted as being heretical, but these days, with more and more people voicing such concerns, I see the Kochieties cynicism being replaced with scepticism. Perhaps, all is not well in ‘Gods own Country'???

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