urban spaces

Watch: This comic and animation series is fighting for your right to walk safely on India’s streets

In a country where walking is the most common mode of commuting, it is also one of the most unsafe.

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Barring a few pockets, India’s cities are no-pavement spaces. Even where they exist, they are often either poorly maintained or occupied by hawkers, parked vehicles, garbage, and stray animals.

And yet walking is India’s most common means of intra-city travel.

This makes life perilous for walkers. As the voice-over in the video articulates, “My head hangs low not out of shame but out of sheer necessity.”

Urban designer Nikhil Chaudhary, who works with World Resources Institute India, a non-profit and environmental think-tank, blames the lack of attention to pedestrians’ needs. “The traditional model of urban planning favours personal transport first, which panders to mobility through vehicles. This is why you see wide roads with long distances that the pedestrians cannot cover,” he told Scroll.in.

An “obsessive doodler”, Chaudhary decided to get his message across – and communicate the crying need for solutions for pedestrians – through a comics and animation trilogy.

While the first two parts are in form of comics, the third work is an animated short tiled I, Pedestrian (video above).

Having grown up in various cities in India, the Nagpur-born urban designer depicts the infrastructure in his sketches in the sameway American super-hero comics glorify urban spaces, such as the city of Gotham.

“In my sketches, the city is more than a backdrop – it is a setting which triggers a series of dialogues amongst the common pedestrians,” he said. The violently laid out open spaces shape the way humans interact through their walks and their vehicles, which says a lot about India’s road rage culture.

Chaudhary’s work magnifies hazards like uneven platforms, which, he said, “can sprain the foot of the fittest person walking on the path as well as children, the aged and the disabled”.

Each comic ends with the need to reclaim the space, citing examples from community initiatives such as Raahgiri and Equal Streets with active local participation.

Chaudhary cited his inspiration from comic journalist Joe Sacco’s works Palestine (1996) and Footnotes in Gaza (2009), and Chris Ware’s Building Stories, a graphic story which breathes life into a mere structure of blocks.

If road safety is all about the technicalities, Chaudhary’s comics are about the humanising of artificial spaces – through the lens of sensitivity.

Last year, the record of pedestrian deaths by the National Crime Records Bureau was believed to be misrepresented – while the data made the figure out to be 5%, a study pointed at numbers between 35% and 40%.

With the surge in two-wheelers and four-wheelers in India’s claustrophobic cities – 53,700 vehicles were registered every day in 2015 – it may soon become difficult to differentiate between a road and a pavement.

Till then, pedestrians will continue crossing the busy road with just a show of the hand, hoping to halt rushing vehicles, and weave through visible and invisible dangers.

Courtesy: Linear Expression
Courtesy: Linear Expression
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These GIFs show you what it means to miss breakfast

That monstrous roar is your empty stomach.

Let’s take a glance at your every day morning routine. You crawl out of bed, go for a quick shower, pull out and wear your neatly ironed clothes at the speed of light and then rush out of the house, making sure you have your keys and wallet in place.

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You walk into office, relieved because you have made it to work on time. Stifling yawns and checking emails, you wonder how your colleagues are charged up and buzzing with energy. “What is wrong with these people” you mumble to yourself.

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Slowly, you start to change. You start snapping at colleagues and start arguing with your computer. You take out your frustration on anything or anyone in sight.

To add to the aggressive behaviour, you’ve completely lost your focus. After some time, you simply forget what you were doing.

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Unable to bear the hunger pangs, you go for a mid-morning snack. It is only when a colleague asks you for a bite do you realize that you have developed into a fully formed, hunger fueled, monster. Try not to look at yourself in the mirror.

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If only you had spared not even twenty or ten but just 5 minutes in the morning and not skipped breakfast, your story would look completely different - as you will see in this video.

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The fast dip in your mood and lack of focus is because your body has missed its most important meal of the day – breakfast. Research has shown that skipping a meal, especially in the morning, worsens the mood because there is a drop in the blood sugar. This in turn affects the levels of serotonin and dopamine, the chemicals produced in the brain that control our moods and feelings. In simpler English, not having breakfast is going to make you really cranky and confused!

Morning is also when the body needs maximum nutrition to function efficiently through the day as you’ve just woken up from a full 7 hours of no food (and if you’re sleeping less than that, that’s a whole other article).

So in short, having a breakfast could make you go from looking like the earlier GIFs to this:

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But with changing lifestyles and most people hard pressed for time, a healthy breakfast is taking the backseat. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. MTR has come up with a range of widely loved Indian delicacies like Poha, Upma and Halwa which can be made in (hold you breath) just 3 minutes! All you have to do is add hot water and wait for 3 minutes to get a delicious and filling breakfast.

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These amazing and delicious breakfasts can be made in a jiffy and consumed with the least hassle, even in the midst of your frenetic morning routine. So grab your #MTRbreakfastin3 to start the day on an awesome note.

Click here to make breakfast a part of your morning routine.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of MTR and not by the Scroll editorial team.