A sub-culture forged in the foundry of Pedestrian Day

courtesy: bbs.com.bt

Pedestrian Day, initiated with a noble cause on a globally marked environment day, did not rate high on the desirability charts, and it still remains a big thorn in every body’s sides.

The seemingly altruistic drive easily generated a sea of public ire, expressed immediately after its enforcement, on social sites, discussion forums and it lost the battle of votes on a live national TV interactive discussion session.

All of 15 Pedestrian Days later, unanswered and unattended pleas have withdrawn to silent quarters and ‘Pedestrian Day’ has replaced ‘Tuesday’ in the general arrangement of the days of the week.

Except for the few breastfeeding mothers who have received a stroke of reprieve from the government the rest of the population fire up for a Tuesday drill starting Monday evening.

Necessity is an inventor and so every walking, cycling and Taxi-hailing people on the streets have more or less slipped into what could be called a Pedestrian Day-mold of mindset and dressing.

In the realm of the office goers, private, corporate and government the usual smartly attired reflection in the morning dressing mirror cannot be carried with convenience walking all the way to respective work destinations due to the day.

Subjects in this category wear pants, shirts, jackets, sports shoes and carry their ghos, kiras, shoes and stockings in an extra backpack or plastic accessories to wear it at designated pit stops before the work zones.

Women swap their stilettos or fairly high-heeled shoes for flats and sneakers.

People are tuned to carry numerous bags and employ all hands and fingers to carry pack lunch bags, laptop bags, and extra bags unavoidably dictated to be carried. In some cases, people sacrifice their lunches due to inconveniences.

The sharply customized fresh look goes in vain when the sun or a slight drizzle visits without caution or simply because you have to walk the distance to office. Many therefore prefer to take their time or just go late to work.

For some, it is ‘early to bed’ on the night before pedestrian day and ‘early to rise’ on Tuesday.

A civil servant Kelzang Dorji, 27 who lives in Hejo goes to bed early on Monday to wake up an hour earlier than usual days to walk to office.

He said he gets to enjoy his peace walking and listening to music and breathing the fresh morning air around. “I get to know and interact with lots of people, especially friends and neighbors who you seldom meet on other days,” he said.

Planning the route is crucial for those who intend to drive as near as possible to the work place and park the vehicles in the Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) designated parking areas.

This batch of people hold-up until 6PM and then drive home according to the Pedestrian Day rule of ‘No vehicles after 8AM till 6PM’.

For many parents, Tuesday mornings are an exceptionally grueling routine; wake up at 5/6AM, prepare breakfast, pack lunches, groom the children for school, drive them or book a Taxi with them to school.

Picking them up is another story.

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6 comments

  1. What about the newspapers? Are the papers getting circulated early before six or seven in the morning? If the average Bhutanese is waking up only after six in the morning and complained about having to get up before that, then we have not really faced any difficulty. And it shows we are very lazy. 

  2. I think this is a noble initiative of this present government. Actually it has lots of positive benefits though i am not denying the inconveniences it has caused too. I think, we Bhutanese will get used to it after few years though there are many hues and cries, which were further escalated by  exaggeration of the media to the public.

    In fact, i am really enjoying this pedestrian day, otherwise, i am very used to in travelling by private car. Though, i like to go by a walk to the office before introduction of such rules, i feel uneasy and uncomfortable because when i see my friends going by their private cars. I went by a walk once or twice, but my colleagues joked me saying that i am a peculiar guy, miser saving fuel or afraid of my wife, who drive the car etc………Though it seems to be a joke but they state this with some intentions behind it.

    Now i am comfortable and every Tuesday is very exciting day for me, as i have to wake up early otherwise, my kids will be late and even me too. It refreshes my mind, save my fuel cost too and make me healthy.

    For instance, it also reminds me how difficulty our forefathers have faced, how the far flung rural people still have a turf time, requiring them to walk for days. But in our case, its just a matter of few Kilometers of walk, we don’t need to go through jungles, dense forest etc.

    So i am really enjoy the pedestrian day. May it be continuous for ever.

  3. “it lost the battle of votes on live national tv”?

    Hmm.. this is expected as we know The Bhutanese team is against Pedestrian day and seems to also dislike other policies of….. but that is another issue all together..

    Parts of the Ped Day implementation also bothers me a lot… however, the Bhutanese or the media in general (Business Bhutan is another one) should not be propagating faulty statistics or more seriously false information.

    A story that has not been investigated by The Bhutanese as much as it has other stories is the issue about TV voting and whether the polls by TV or print media are representative of the opinion of the (1) general population (2) subset of our population or (3) interest groups. There are flaws even if BBS has rectified voting to one vote per cell phone number..

    We know The Bhutanese has a lot of informants/contacts for many juicy stories.. why doesn’t the paper investigate into the BICMA inquiry and the TV voting process and find out how many individuals actually voted on several issues on BBS’s “People’s Voice Program.. Three to start with would be;

    1. Tiger road in Lhuentshe (Shinkhar to Gorgan)
    (The “For” vote started to rise very very fast in short period when the “no” started to catch up… does not seem to be realistic with number of viewers and trends in other votes)

    2. Pedestrian Day
    (BICMA made inquiry… insiders have said there were interesting findings about use of bulk voting from a few numbers)

    3. Nationalisation of Mines
    (The “No” votes were as high as total votes cast on Pedestrian Day debate!)

    See if such votes are representative… whether bulk voting or repeat voting was used… However it will be even more interesting to know who some of the key bulk voters on the various issues were… should be very revealing..

    This has serious implication on “people’s voice” the role of media, ethics and democracy.

    • You are correct, certain vested interest groups are responsible for such alarming voting patterns, their only aim is to either discredit the government or to shape future government policies in their favor. These vested interest groups either just hate the government, ie voting against pedestrian day or are greedy business men that voted against nationalization of our mines for obvious reasons.

      All they care for is themselves and they give a shit about everyone else. They are the parasites who make tonnes of money from a free RGOB asset and then flaunt their wealth as if they are the brightest business brains around.

      After becoming rich through no hard work of their own, the least we expect them to be is a little humble in public.

  4. While we were at school, our teachers always used to tell us that “Early to Bed and Early to Rise Makes a Man Healthy, Wealthy and Wise”. This is no grueling routine for parents to wake up early on Tuesdays. Instead it is a health booster.

  5. The "TRUE" Bhutanese

    I am a civil servant and I fully support Pedestrian Day, though I do agree there could be inconviences for the businesses. But I feel it’s a matter of getting “used to” and then planning accordingly. This is a brave noble initiative by our leaders and those of us who do not have serious constraints because of it should support it fully. How I wish the reporter have taken views from people like me and all those who wrote above in support of it to portray a clearer and unbiased picture of the Pedestrian Day.

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