Thursday, July 17, 2008

Delhi vs Bangalore Take 2..

Back in 2005, I had visited Delhi.. just to feel what it would be like to go back to my home turf, look around and just feel the scene..

Once again, after 4 years, i visited again.. Once more , to feel the scene.. This time i was staying in Gurgaon, the up-and-coming suburb.

Gurgaon is, for starters, mall paradise. Its the mecca of all hard-core shoppers and in Sale season, it is heaven. Its better than Heaven. every store - from the Marks and Spencers to the Shopper's Stop and everythign in between has massive giveaway sales.. Its just mind-boggling.. the kind of economic activity this place generates. The government, for reasons beyond my comprehension, has imposed a compulsory holiday on Tuesdays for all commercial centres. They have no choice but to stay closed. Imagine the revenues they lose out on!

Despite all this, Gurgaon remains the concrete jungle of lore. There are massive buildings everywhere you turn. Its hard not to be suffocated by all the glass and concrete.. The buildings are a mixed bag, some office buildings, then a mall or two and then huge apartment complexes. The sky too is tainted.. You can barely see a star. The day I landed, I could not breathe. The heat, the claustrophobia just took over me...

How do people live here? It eludes me completely. How do they manage to feel even a little bit at HOME.. How can this possibly be home to anybody. Isn't it more of a jungle of money and society, with Page 3 parties, pubs and hard-selling businessmen?

Delhi city on the other hand, is beautiful. It retains a certain amount of old-world charm which even Bangalore cannot recreate. The localities of Greater Kailash, CR Park, Vasant Kunnj, Karol Bagh. I could go on.. Except for their facade being marred by a McDonalds or two.. They are rel;atively unspoilt. And being the capital city does them no harm. The infrastructure is top class.. Huge distances can be covered with hardly any bottlenekcs, an unheard of phenomenon in my native Bangalore. Maybe we too can learn a thing or two from them.

Though, the city isn't all good. The peoples attitude, their outlook and their general behaviour leaves much to be desired. The pace of life is so fast that they don't have the time to walk slowly and selflessly. The focus is on 'ME', How did they get there?

That is probably the most frightening but interesting part of this conversation. Influx from other cities, especially from north India, for the sole purpose of occupation and heavy industrialization at the fastest pace possible, coupled with rapid monetary growth in the people.

The change I saw could be attritubed to my growth and my perspective. and what struck me the most was not how much Delhi had changed, but how much Bangalore had...
In the past 3 years, its gone through so much - more than any other city i've observed. Flyovers, Malls and Whole IT parks have sprung by the dozen. And not to leave out apartment complexes. The whole growth makes my head spin.

This trend of Delhi's emergence as it is now is identical to Bangalore's growth and for that I fear. How will we survive in this fast-growing, high-competition world..? How will we retain the 'Garden City' title? Where is the pensioner's paradise now? There is nothing wrong with our city becoming younger and less with it becoming industrialized. The immigration of people from all over the country is to be welcomed for where else will we find the coming together of such different points of view and experiences and cultures. But, I think, we need to keep a check on the personal growth. Are we losing the sense of society, of caring for others and the friendliness that Bangalore was always kown for? I honestly hope not.
What makes Bangalore, for me, the best city to live in? The people, the weather, the architecture and the spirit of the city.

Right now, the people need to feel a part of the city. To have care and grattitude for everything that it has given us. I hope that it can see where we are and where our inevitable future lies if not for a concerted change in all of us.

I love Bangalore :D


Meena and Ganesh said...

I remember when i moved in Jan 1998 to Bangalore from Delhi after living all my life in Delhi , it took six months to adjust to Bangalore behavior. Whenever I used to bargain with Auto fellows for the first six months after landing here , they used to be taken aback - why is this guy fighting ?
Same thing used to happen whenever I interacted with people. Slowly I tone down. I think this has to do with Delhi upbringing and Delhi's Yamuna water that creates a certain inherent aggressiveness. In fact , many people have remarked that I still carry the Delhi "punju" attitude and a Tam brahm brain - which supposedly is a deadly combination to be "feared" when you are pitted against such a person.
But I agree, I am happy to be a Bangalorean now and I am happy my children are more Bangalore oriented in behavior than Delhi type. But having been born nd brought up in Delhi , I can identify myself with the "Delhite" and also relate to them and enjoy being there.
On another note , the development and growth and concrete is good - remember as you are going to be an economics student - what you see are the benefits of the demographic dividend that India is enjoying. All the concrete means so many jobs , so much growth that millions of people from unemployment or disguised unemployment and being pulled out into industry and services sector - creating more and better standard of living. These very places like Gurgaon had nothing to give potential jobs to people but now thrive on creating and providing jobs. Though its not that nice to look and does not have the same visual appeal of green fields etc , its great to see so many people raising out of poverty - thanks to these opportunities
Best wishes

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