Govindpuri - a slice of real India

Gali No 3, Govindpuri is where our main centre is located. It is also the street that houses our flat share for volunteers. To the uninitiated it may look like cramped, dirty, messy, chaotic, congested place. And in many ways it is: tiny lanes that once housed single story units now have been remodelled to include multi storied flats for rent; lanes that once only say bicycles or at best scooter are now crammed with cars and motorbikes courtesy the arrival of credit cards; for want of fresh air in their houses which have no natural light people tend to bring out stools and chairs and sit on the street; hawkers ply the lanes peddling their war. You can buy almost every and anything you want: vegetables, fruit, clothes, kitchenware, cleaning implements, snacks and ice lollies: you name it they have it.

The place brims buzzes with activity. On our street ground floors have often been converted to tiny shops and businesses: you have small grocers, repair shops, photocopying facility, a shoe vendor, restaurants, juice vendors and even a flour mill. Old women are employed by the mill owner to clean the grain before milling. These ladies often sit on the street itself and each time we need to pass in our three wheeler they have to gather their grain to make way! The tiny lane sees many traffic jams that get nightmarish when any building activity is going on.

Twice a day we too add to the traffic in our own way: that is when our creche children are dropped by the school transport at the top of the street and need to walk to the centre and vice versa when it is time to go home. It is all part of the daily humdrum of life in our street. What is amazing is that no one complains: one just tries to find the best alternative possible so if a delivery van blocks the street for instance, you simply tun around and take another one. At times you come in the morning and see a tent erected in the middle of the street: it could be a wedding, a religious ceremony or a funeral. You simply park your vehicle on the main road and walk to your destination.

All the lanes give onto a main road which though large always seems congested. It is a main bus route and hence many buses ply on it. Add to it cars, auto rickshaws, cycles, motorbikes, and all other imaginable vehicles and you have a huge mess. But that is not all we still have to add all the hawkers, street vendors to make it a colourful vibrant chaos. The place is teeming with people whatever the time of the day. It is an aggression on all your senses though not an unpleasant one. Not to forget the local vegetable and fruit market and the weekly Wednesday market that commandeers the whole road making traffic a real nightmare.

For the past two years now it is also home to the project why volunteers. I must admit that when we took the decision of housing the volunteers in this street we were a little concerned about what their reaction would be. It was a pleasant surprise to learn that all of them loved the area with its sounds and smells. And above all, all of them felt safe unlike in other parts of the city deemed touristic.

Govindpuri is truly a slice of real India.