Big town/Bean Town

Had been thru Delhi last week. Got driven through the opened-that-day Gurgaon expressway, and generally caught up with the mammoth scale of infrastructural strides the NCR has taken.

Bangalore is quite firmly a small town. There’s been little reason to think big, and despite the numerous growth pains, commuter woes and string of issues that keep popping up in area after area, intersection, road, wherever, the swalpa adjust maadi has so far kind-of-worked-out. If the traffic is horrendous, most people still get to most places in an hour cause they need to go only, say, 10 kms at most. The city has only recently started to scale to a genuine big-city size where inefficiency in infrastructure takes things beyond breaking points. Mumbai and the NCR have been through multiple rounds of this, and have been forced to take corrective action right from the design phase, given the scale.

I also experienced fear in Delhi. The expressways seem to have steamrolled everything in their way – including dhabas and small chai shops and the like – a lot of the smaller things that made India the warm comfortable place its always been. One shouldn’t always need to walk into a mall for a cuppa, should one ? I hope whenever Bangalore suffers-and-hence-learns, the Darshini, Re 5/- coffee, the roadside cobbler kiosks – these stay alive. Its tough enough to find small services in Koramangala already. Absolutely no need to lose one’s soul in the name of growth.

There surely ARE other alternative development models to massive-highway lead urban sprawl that the NCR is experiencing. A much better alternative is to make driving so painful that great public transport HAS to be built. Yeah we have the metro, but there needs to be much more, much faster. Keep the city alive, and manage growth, should be the mantra. Bangalore as a city probably has way more brainpower and international exposure per capita than any other place – it should take the lead in a new way, not merely follow the last decade’s developmental models.


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