14 Nov 2010

Making our Cities Fun

Aravind Adiga writes about living and leaving Mumbai in Mint. I found his story funny initially and poignant as he reaches the decision to leave the city. His property dealer is of course horrified:

“For 40 years I’ve worked and still I have nothing. From the moment you came here, everything you’ve touched has turned to gold. Why would you ever leave Mumbai?”

This is not a Bombay versus Delhi debate. We have different ways of looking at the city we live in. A friend of mine (from Bombay) once said that Bombay is a great place to work and Delhi a great place to party, chill out. I disagreed and said – I would like to work here and party in Bombay. It always turns out a never-ending debate.

Whatever our differences we agree that our cities are becoming impossible to live in. Most of us talk about leaving them. What is it about our cities that we are growing to hate them? Current reportage about cities focus on bad infrastructure, traffic, increasing costs and bad public transport.

We need to understand what is it that attracts us to cities. What is it that keeps us there? Jobs? Our friends? If we were given the same money to live elsewhere would we do it?

Adiga shifts to Bangalore to reclaim an old flat his mother had left for him. Money he does not have to worry about. But how many people have a choice like that? They are stuck to the place that provides them with their livelihood.

Today almost 40 percent of us live in cities. And this number is supposed to grow to 70 percent in the next 30 years. So my question - How can we make our cities fun to live?

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