Where have all the public places gone? And can we think of putting them back?Several years ago, I had visited several temples in various villages of Tamil Nadu. Wherever I went, sometimes after 6 PM, the local people would ask me to take rest in the front portion of their houses, called "thinnai" in Tamil. This was a superb raised platform, as high as three and a half feet from the ground level, perfectly cemented. Though I was a total stranger, I was offered dinner and was shown the way to the rest room and made very comfortable. And of course, the concern and affection shown in villages was superb.
Even today, such places are common in villages. In fact, there are huge banyan trees, and a huge cemented platform surrounding the tree, or in the vicinity of such a huge tree, where all village elders group together to discuss any small issue affecting them. The caring and sharing is still there, though many new modern houses have even come up in what were called "agraharams", the traditional residential townships of Brahmins.
Today, we do not have a single place like this in most bus stations, where the poor or those who cannot afford the cost of hotel accommodation, can rest a while or stay overnight and then go back to their places. Of course, the parks do have some benches where people do sleep in the afternoons, and will be woken up by the watchmen in the evening and also thrown out before PM.
Can we think of such places, even if they come up at some places, some ten kilometers from the main city? In Hyderabad, Chennai or Bangalore, more so, near temples or where there is huge greenery, so that the summer months will not be a torture for tourists?
Do members know of such places? Do we have any scope of getting these places back, in some form in the cities and towns?