We are shaped by our surroundings. Surroundings—be they cities, towns, or villages—tend to be an influencing force in molding, not just our sense of belonging, but also our sense of citizenship. And as citizens, we have, to borrow Henri Lefebvre words, ‘the right to the city,’ where we transform ourselves by changing the city, for we are what we create. Indeed, the cities we build are the narratives we have of ourselves and our communities. Hence, it is essential to recognize these implications of the city on citizen’s well-being, especially in societies torn between tradition and modernity.
Dimapur – Hell or Heaven?
As the popular saying goes, every coin has two sides. Here is one side of the coin with regards to our city, Dimapur. Dimapur is the largest city in Nagaland, and rightfully, is known as the commercial hub of Nagaland. It is the city with one of the fastest growing economies. I have lived in Dimapur for a decade, and things have changed drastically in every field. Dimapur is a city of great variety. One can find tiny shops, and next to those, large stores. Dimapur is also, as some would say, a city of education, where students from different backgrounds come in search of knowledge. I see Dimapur as a city where there is no discrimination, where everyone has the right to follow their dreams. But is Dimapur really this wonderful city of dreams as one would want it to be? Well, I don’t think so. And this is the other side of the coin, the uglier side.
The first problem that one can observe in the Dimapur is the horrible condition of the roads. The abundant potholes, varying in different shapes and sizes, give the public an amusement park sort of ride, which is pathetic. If we wanted an amusement park ride, we would go to an amusement park. Dust fills the air and gives it a translucent aura, resulting in the drivers being barely able to see the road. In fact, if the roads where in good condition, there won’t be any difficulty in traveling. The condition worsens especially during the monsoons. To add to it all, we have traffic jams, mostly due to rash drivers unwilling to follow traffic rules. In most cases, a minute of work can be stretched to an entire day. Students get late for classes, passengers miss their trains, it’s a mess. There is an obvious solution, repair the roads so that we, the public in Dimapur, won’t have to feel that we live in a remote village. As a matter of fact, some villages have better roads than Dimapur.
The second major problem is the poor drainage system. Rainy season comes and Dimapurians are given the opportunity to enjoy the “natural” swimming pools. Even when there is a light rain, the footpaths are filled with dirty water. Cans, bottles, wrappers, the garbage floats everywhere. It shows that Dimapur also lacks a proper garbage disposal system, or maybe we aren’t disposing garbage the way we are supposed to? Whatever the case may be, it’s the pedestrians who suffer the most. They have to do “long-jumps” in order to avoid open manholes and puddles.
A city growing commercially is of no use without proper maintenance. If we don’t have good roads, drainage, and proper garbage disposal system, no matter how extravagantly we want our stores to be, how fancy we want our cars to be, and how trendy we want our clothes to be, it’s just a disaster at the end with dirty water flowing all over.
When we look at the above-mentioned problems prevalent in Dimapur, perhaps it really is a ‘hell’for the public.
It isn’t all negative. The other side of the coin is that Dimapur is a beauty. The outskirts of the town still have nature in abundance, and not to forget, the ever graceful ‘Dhansiri’ which meanders lazily through, much like the chimney smoke in Charles Dickens’ Hard Times. Dimapur is home to the scenic Kachari Ruins, the ever fun Zoological Park, and even the street markets, it’s absolute bliss. Vendors from far and near come together to sell their local products: medicinal herbs, delicious and organic vegetables, hand-made products like baskets, shawls, and all household products at reasonable prices. And come December, roasted maize or ‘butta’ is sold on the streets, its warm and irresistible aroma colliding melodiously with the chilly winter atmosphere.
That’s another thing about Dimapur in December, its Christmas time. Dimapur is transformed into a magical land. Stars up in the sky and colourful ones down below, Christmas trees with twinkling lights sparkling and dancing around it, varieties of shops popping out in every corner, and of course, the fairs where one can enjoy delicacies like the pani puri, grilled sausages, barbecued meat, baked muffins, hot coffees, all laid outside in the Christmas air adding a fuel to the exciting environment.
So, the other side of the coin says, there is a part of Dimapur which is an absolute ‘heaven’.
At the end, it is down to us, do we really need our city to have two sides? Let us try to look around, analyze, think, and decide whether Dimapur is a hell or heaven. Dimapur is our home, and maybe it’s time we all work together to create it into an ideal city, a city we would be proud to live in, a city which we would pass down to our future generations with much pride. Before we expect the Government to come and solve all our problems for us, let’s do all we can to make Dimapur into a ‘heaven’.
“Degree of Thought is a weekly community column initiated by Tetso College in partnership with The Morung Express. Degree of Thought delves into the social, cultural, political and educational issues around us. The views expressed here do not reflect the opinion of the institution. Tetso College is a NAAC Accredited UGC recognised Commerce and Arts College. The editors are Dr. Hewasa Lorin, Dr. Salikyu Sangtam, Anjan Behera, Nivibo Yiki, and Kvulo Lorin. For feedback or comments please email: firstname.lastname@example.org”.