Recipient of the Eastern Bhoomika Iconic Woman’s Award (2018) and Secretary of Women’s Wing, VCCI, Sandhya Godey founded ‘Speaking Chalk’, a voluntary organisation that teaches underprivileged children life skills and Spoken English. She shares her friend’s reaction to Vizag city’s metamorphosis.
The homecoming with a twist
“Last week Kavita, a friend of mine, visited me after an interval of almost 10 years. As we were driving home from the airport, I enjoyed her surprised silence. She was yet to recover from the shock of experiencing the new Vizag International Airport. I happily informed her that Visakhapatnam Airport was now an international terminal and also boasted of an e-visa facility. As we neared home, she was amused that Vizag needed a flyover. I told her to wait and watch. We had to crawl at very slow speed behind dozens of cars before we could reach home. Ten years ago, she had considered having two cars ahead of our car, a traffic jam in Vizag. As we parked the car at home she remarked that VIP road, where I lived, had morphed from a residential area to a shopping district.”
The changing cityscape
“In the following few days, she drove to Madhurwada and Gajuwaka. Kavita couldn’t believe that all the localities she remembered as low-income suburbs were now bustling satellite townships with major infrastructure projects and that many IT companies now had their offices on the three ‘IT’ hills. I informed her that today, Vizag is on its way to becoming a Smart City with many initiatives like underground cabling, transparent online governance, green community spaces and initiatives that have made living in Vizag a preferred choice. A lot of these initiatives were learning experiences after Cyclone Hudhud. Keen to watch my nephew’s movie, she suggested we book tickets at Jagadamba and munch on crisp onion samosas during the interval. I told her our preferred choice now was the INOX Cinemas and onion samosa could be had at home. Eating out is not an occasional family experience anymore. Choices of places to eat now ranged from international favourites like McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, KFC and Subway to the many restaurants and eateries. Hanging out at the numerous chai or coffee bistros is now the done thing. Thanks to Uber Eats, Swiggy and other home delivery services, cooking at home was not the only alternative. I offered to make zucchini pasta for her and had to respond to her raised eyebrows by mentioning Spencers and Bigbasket.”
“When discussing education, I told Kavita that CBM Compound was no longer the preferred residential area due to its proximity to Timpany School. Now kids travelled for an hour in AC buses to get to schools that offered open grounds and lots of extra-curricular activities. At least till the tenth standard, after which the drill of Narayana and Chaitanya still managed to coax parents into enrolling their wards in the hope of acing the IIT, EAMCET and other CET exams.”
The decade in retrospect
“Generally, change is gradual, and it takes a visitor to notice the quantum leaps of ease that development has brought or the chaos that moving forward has resulted in. Like Kavita’s surprise at Vizag’s changes. I took pleasure in informing her that the one thing that hasn’t changed is the reluctance of people to indulge in violence/destruction as a means of voicing their opinion. Yes, the city has changed. And while it doesn’t seem obvious for all those living in the city, a visitor makes us understand the magnanimity of it. I can only wonder where we would be headed over the next ten years. Perhaps Kavita can tell.”