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This is a typical sidewalk in Pune. Every day new projects begin as other projects are left incomplete. Since arriving in December, we’ve watched roads and sidewalks be ripped up by small groups of laborers. In most cases, the work is partially completed, or one stage of the work is completed and the next stage is left to be done. There is apparently little planning and clearly little to no oversight. The city is mostly a pedestrian’s nightmare.

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Just yesterday, in fact, two workers dug a trench in the asphalt across the lane. They broke the pavement with pick axes. They dug the trench with short handled and wide blade hoes. And then they unwound a plastic pipe and wrestled it into the trench. Today we look out on the broken pavement and dirt and a coil of plastic pipe leaning against a wall.

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But the pavers do find their places as the monsoon comes in June and the Commonwealth games begin in the city next fall.

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With many of the sidewalks like a plateau of broken talus, we mostly walk in the streets. And yet when the work finally gets completed, and there is not another drain pipe to put in or electrical cable to lay, the going is pretty darn good.

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This wide path, with its hemmed in trees, is a beautiful exception to the rule.


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