I have recently started commuting a longer distance to work as the office has shifted to a new location. It is at a place in Bengaluru that has “developed” in the past 10 – 15 years only. Developed is only a euphemism here since it only means that there are more buildings in that place and there are more people there than there once were. In the short time spent there thus far, I am taken aback by the dreariness of it all there. All I see around me is buildings, traffic, dust and pollution. There is no water body and there are a few trees dotting the landscape – all of which are, what I call the nouveau landscaping type. Palm trees, perfectly grown else where and transplanted to provide life to what is otherwise a sad location.
This location is no different from any other suburb in other cities around India. Admittedly, I am no expert in new areas being added to cities and my sample size is small. What I have seen saddens me. Gurgaon is a hot, dry place with only concrete and glass buildings dotting the landscape, new(er) places in Hyderabad are much the same. Bengaluru is only just another city with similar problems. One could be transported to any of these recently populated areas in either of these cities and they wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. The personality of these places, to me, remains the same – marked by the working population of a young India in the cities. Cold, distant and ultimately, selfish.
Bengaluru, of course, was not always like this and nor was Hyderabad. There are still places in these cities that retain the old world charm and may they last long into the future. Traveling to or around these places is a whole different experience – there is greenery, there are shops and eating joints that have stood the test of time. They make you feel welcome and have a personality about them that vaguely resembles home. It is, of course, true that all the old places were planned by people with foresight. Nowadays, we see the BBMP elections reduced to a fight between two major National Political parties.
A striking example of the inadequacy of planning in recent times was in the newspaper this morning. At least 4 flyovers in Bengaluru have been under construction for anywhere between 3 and 5 years now. They have reached a stage of half completion and have been stopped because the land required for them to be completed on one side was not acquired. Hence, in all these locations, there are traffic snarls. It is symptomatic of a deeper malaise running in the system.
Maybe all these new places need time to develop further and gain a unique character and personality of their own. Maybe, in time, I will learn to appreciate the beauty that oh! seems so missing at present. It is all about perspectives, after all.