Sukhna: Sight for sore eyes
One of the satisfactions for the morning walkers around Chandigarh’s iconic Sukhna Lake is that it is quite turgid this year, unlike the last three years. The recent rains have nicely filled it up. At this time last year, the predictions were dire for the Sukhna. Built in 1958, the man-made lake had been waning from its original spread of 3 sq km. They said it would soon go dry.
The Punjab and Haryana High Court prodded the administration to wake up and notice that the depth of the lake (originally 8-16 ft) had plunged to 1.75 feet at some places. The Chandigarh Administration got the water body desilted and pumped in water from five tube wells.
This year, the Sukhna is a happier sight. It’s an important cultural space for Chandigarh, be it for morning and evening joggers, selfie takers and onlookers stopping by to have pop corn and icecream on the banks.
‘Alcohol Meter Available Here’
A visitor to Chandigarh will find that 80 per cent of the city’s restaurants, bars and pubs have breathalysers on the premises. If after a drink or two a customer wants to check whether his breath will pass muster at the police naka, he can get a ready readout. This rather nice convenience has come about kind courtesy of the booze cops themselves. Last month, the excise department issued orders to all pubs and bars to install breathalysers, called alcohol meters. If a customer’s breath is a bit too high, he is politely advised to call a cab. So next time you are in Chandigarh, look for the ‘Alcohol Meter Available Here’ sign at your watering hole. Just for good measure, some have good Punjabi axioms on display: ‘Friends Don’t’ Let Friends Drive and Drunk’ says one.
The airport’s a downer
It was with much fanfare that the Chandigarh International Airport was inaugurated by the PM two years ago. When the ‘international’ part of it didn’t quite take off for some time, the Punjab and Haryana High Court intervened and pulled up the Union government and the Airports authority of India. So two daily flights – one to Dubai and another to Sharjah – were hastily put together. But Chandigarh’s international wings are dipping. As the runway is in need of repair and widening, operations have been curtailed. No flight will land or take off after 4 pm and Sunday is a holiday. This state of affairs will continue will March 31, 2018. So from 38 flights daily, we are now down to 27. With this being the festive season, everyone’s flight plans are constricted by the new timings.
Here come the food police
With the festive season in full swing, the food police are busy. At this time of the year, with everyone stuffing themselves to the gills and eager eateries catering to them, health authorities in the Tri Cities -- Chandigarh, Mohali and Panchkula – suddenly become busybodies, taking samples of sweets and meats to test for adulteration and contamination. It’s a common sight to see khoya, kalakhand, khoya barfi and gurpara and canisters seized from shops and destroyed. Alas, the food safety teams seem to work only around the festival season.
The festival season is also the time when the Chandigarh Police are on their toes, especially the traffic cops. With everyone and his NRI uncle out and about shopping, there are traffic jams on the main streets and parking space is at a premium. The tow trucks are busy throughout the day.
What’s it like for the blind?
Amidst all the festival rush, October 12, World Sight Day, is likely to bring pause to Chandigarh. The city’s Dialogue Highway Trust in collaboration with the Project Vision from Bangalore is conducting a Blind Walk that day. The walk will be held in Sector 17 for two hours, 5-7 pm. The Blind Walk will provide a unique opportunity to experience how tough life is for the blind, and how the visually impaired overcome obstacles at every step.