Musings on a much-muted Dasara
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Musings on a much-muted Dasara

October 29, 2023

By Dr. K. Javeed Nayeem, MD

Our expectantly awaited annual Nada Habba has come and gone for this year. Our State Government had announced, well in advance, that in view of the very anaemic monsoon that we are all going through right now, this year’s Dasara would be a much-muted and simpler version of what it used to be in the years that have gone by.

We were also told that this year the focus would be more on lighting up the streets and buildings rather than on the other more expensive trappings and trimmings that make our Dasara what it usually is.

Thankfully, over the past few years, due to the arrival of LED lights, lighting is no longer a very expensive affair because it now consumes power very frugally. Thankfully too, for our Government, the truant monsoon came in handy to take the blame for whatever austerity that was visible this year, to the local public and our tourists and visitors too.

I say this because even if the monsoon had been generous and bountiful, our show would perforce, have been the same as what we saw this year, because a bountiful monsoon alone cannot make our State glow through a lavish Dasara. You need to have a full, if not overflowing treasury, to make this happen, as nothing works like free-flowing cash, if you need to showcase grandeur. And, as of now, free-flowing cash is what is most obviously in short supply in our State!

All said and done, what was most pleasantly noticeable during this year’s Dasara was the way our city had been lit up. We saw very muted colours, without any of the garish and clashing contrasts that used to jar our senses, as it used to be in the past. Except for a few buildings, mostly Government ones, that stood out like sore thumbs, with their incongruous lighting, the whole city bore one expansive golden glow that beautifully matched the age-old, vintage look of our illuminated Palace, that took its place of pride, like the main jewel in a piece of beautifully    crafted jewellery!

So, driving around the city was a very soothing and mesmerising experience that brought much joy to the soul. Thankfully, over the past few years, the timings of the Dasara lighting too have also been much extended, which has contributed to the comfort and ease with which people can enjoy it, without congesting the roads in their desperate bid to beat the switching off time.

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While complimenting and thanking all those who were responsible for planning our Dasara lighting to be what it was this year, let’s all hope that they will stick to this sense of aesthetics in the years to come too, without overdoing it with misplaced over-enthusiasm. Let us retain this ethereal signature look of Mysuru in all the years to come!

Killing our groundwater with our kindness for good looks!

These days I am seeing that the footpaths along almost all our roads and even minor bylanes are being covered up with concrete pavementing blocks. What appears odd is that this is being done even in the most sparsely populated, fringe areas of the city, with hardly any pedestrian movement.

An example that comes to my mind immediately is the very wide 3rd Main Road in K.C. Layout, that takes off from the Chamundi Hill road, near the quaint looking Government Health Centre and connects the helipad road. It is an already beautiful and tranquil stretch of road that passes alongside a few farmsteads that have remained islands of tranquillity, albeit incongruity, amid urban turmoil! I envy their owners for the peace and quiet that they are enjoying, right in the heart of a bustling city.

This road that I’m talking about, certainly does not require or benefit from any further beautification or ornamentation. If we only look around a little, we will find that there are dozens of such examples across our city. While pavementing may be an exercise in beautifying our city, or making life easy for pedestrians, no one involved in this process seems to be aware of what damage it can do to the recharging of our fast-depleting groundwater resources, by preventing the percolation of rainwater.

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Groundwater that is being mercilessly and thoughtlessly overdrawn, has just one source of replenishment and that is rainwater. While Government authorities across the country are making it mandatory for all new buildings, both private and public, to have rainwater harvesting provisions, it seems absurd that they are themselves ignorant of the deleterious effects of pavementing our footpaths and open spaces that can greatly help the absorption of rainwater. I strongly feel that this over-enthusiasm for beautifying our city should be moderated with concern for our water resources which need the maximum attention if we have to lead comfortable lives in the future. So, this needs a very scientific, State-wide approach, under the able guidance of a team of qualified and knowledgeable experts.

It should certainly not be an exercise that should be undertaken by lay persons as is being done now.

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