Friday, June 8, 2012
Environment Day 2012.
Environment day is a special day for me.
"No Vehicle Hours (NVHs)" is one of several activities that were held to mark this years environment day in Maldives. The basic idea behind this activity is very simple; Nobody drives a vehicle between 1600hours and 2200 hours on this Friday.
I thought i would write this article to share some observations i made of the NVHs.
As i ambled down the streets of Mal'e around 1600hours today my first impression was that NVHs was literally a success. There were no vehicles. Instead there were people. Lots of happy people of all ages.
Moms relinquished their kids, who merrily hopped and skittered in the middle of the streets, that would otherwise be dominated by vehicles.
For once, i thought i had gone deaf. The constant chugging of engines, and the endless vrooms of the vehicles was replaced, by amused giggles and laughter of people who roamed around freely, trusting no vehicle would trespass and disrupts this brief moment of joy rarely experienced by the families living in Mal'e. Replace the paving stones of the streets with sand and the vehicles parked along the pavement with trees and the atmosphere of Mal'e would be almost identical to that of any island of Maldives.
Then I ran into a group of youths around a corner. They were garbed in black t shirts. I saw them only when one of them just pops out of nowhere, right in front of me with a two foot metal tube. He was shouting at another guy who was across the street. Cautious not to make eye contact with him, i swayed away praying not to be a victim of collateral damage if something bad happens: But only to come face to face with another scary young boy wearing a black T-Shirt. He could be no older than 18, with long hair and a bandaged arm.
This encounter suddenly played a flashback of news headlines in my mind:Murder of Bobby, Arham, many others and the attack on Hilath. I was suddenly grief-stricken to come to terms with how unsafe, and deadly the street of Mal'e has become.
After walking few steps away from them, I looked back to get an idea of what was happening. They were trying to break off the Dlock on an old Raleigh bike.
The "No Vehicles Hours" could be regarded as a success in an organizers perspectives.
If you ask me how effective it was I would say people who walked around the streets empty of vehicles were having a really good time, on just another Friday evening with their families. Only a Few celebrated the Environment day.