This morning when I entered the parking lot of my residential complex in Kaushambi on the Delhi-Ghaziabad border, I realised just how many cars in my apartment building — or what they call the 'tower' — ended with odd numbers. On any given day, even during office hours, the parking lot remains half-full. It’s reflective of the general affluence of the residents, most of whom have more than one car.
But on Monday, the parking area looked slightly different.
At around 10.30 am, of the cars present, only two or three ended with even numbers. "Do you think it’s a bit odd today or am I being very conscious about numbers?" I asked one of the drivers waiting for his employer. He said, "Kuchh log adla-badli kar rahe hai aur kuchh saath jaa rahein hain (some are swapping their cars, some others are carpooling)." Most of those who live here go to work in Noida or Delhi.
Just then, a fellow resident called me over. As I was about to respond to him, he asked me to wait and looked intently at his phone. Moments later, he forwarded me a message on WhatsApp. It read: "Matrimonial advertisement in Delhi, 26-year old educated boy with odd-numbered vehicle, looking for beautiful girl with even-numbered vehicle. Suitable candidates reply with picture of vehicle and registration certificate." Both of us had a hearty laugh and we parted ways.
My office is in Film City, Noida, and I cross parts of East Delhi to come to work. Since this was the first full working day after the "odd-even" formula was first implemented on 1 January in Delhi, I was mentally prepared to face some oddities on my way.
On the road, I realised that too many cars had ‘0’ as the last digit on their car number plates. Lucky ones, I thought. It had slipped my mind that ‘0’ would be treated as an even number in the odd-even arrangement. Some odd numbers were also on the road, but that seemed like an anomaly, so to say.
It was relatively easier to negotiate the road. The volume of vehicular traffic was certainly less — something like the sort one encounters on a Saturday, if not a Sunday.
Since this was fourth day of the odd-even formula and the novelty may have worn off, there seemed to be no sign of civil defence volunteers offering roses and pamphlets at intersections, at least through the stretches of roads I commuted. The police presence also seemed to be minuscule, till I was about to enter Noida. Around 20 metres ahead of the entry into Noida, a small contingent of traffic cops was spotting and stopping cars with odd numbers. Two cars — a Wagon-R and a Honda City with odd numbers — were 'challaned'. The occupants of these cars were arguing with the police, and raving and ranting against the Arvind Kejriwal government, but the policemen were in no mood to relent.
More than concern for pollution, it appears to be the fear of a fine of Rs 2,000 that is making vehicle owners extra cautious. The scheme may be working as per official records, but Delhi, after bright sunshine throughout last week, was foggy and smoggy today.