Several bridges, old and new, crisscross over the rivers Mula and Mutha in Pune. Some of them are old and stately like the Lakdi Pul built over 250 years ago or the beautiful Shivaji Pul, while there are low ones like the Baba Bhide Bridge, which routinely gets submerged in the monsoons.
I try to walk across these bridges on most evenings.
As a photographer, the river interests me, but more so, the people. Especially people walking on the bridges. Not all of them stop to watch the river, but many do. School-children, college friends, families, men with friends, men alone.
Women, on the other hand, seldom stand against the bridge-railing and peer down. On the streets and bridges of a city, women are always in a hurry.
People who look at the river do not throw garbage in it. They do not fold their hands and throw in a coin either.
I do not know what they think as they look at the river. I do not even know if they watch the river or are lost in their thoughts. There are hardly any spaces left in the crowded city to get lost in one’s thoughts. It is special that in the midst of constant traffic, loud honking and hurrying pedestrians, people find a moment to themselves with the river.
I cannot help but think that if the rivers below are healthy and flowing, these people might feel better in their solitude. As they return to their worlds, their thoughts might be a shade brighter.
This article first appeared on the blog of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People.
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