The Initiative for Green Habitats represents a long term commitment towards providing solutions for the creation of Sustainable Built Environments. This blog attempts to provide an insight to our views, commentaries on our work, ideas that we are working on, and provoke thought where there are more questions than answers.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

To Bangalore, With Love

The power of surveys!
Should we be proud that Bangalore is the “undisputed Elvis of South Asian mega cities.......”(‘Hip Bangalore is third most favourite in 2012’, The Times of India, Bangalore, December 07, 2011)? This epithet has been attached to the yoke of Bangalore by none other than the reliable and ubiquitous Lonely Planet. Not satiated with coining such a moniker Lonely Planet has come up with a few more gems alluding to the parameters based upon which, I suppose, a city’s ‘favourite’ quotient is decided: ‘perpetually drunk on good life’; ‘best brews’; ‘scrummiest cuisines’; ‘liveliest arts and music scene’; ‘hippest population’. It also claims that “Bengaluru’s new high speed Metro network now ensures that your favourite watering hole is easier to reach than ever”. Whew! Or rather, Glug!
Now, most of us travellers have relied upon a portly copy of a Lonely Planet to guide us in our sojourns far and near. But the glibness with which they are mouthing niceties about Namma Bengaluru makes me begin to wonder about the seriousness of their research. Or is it the case of a high spirited (all-puns intended) junior factotum, high on a barrel of beer, with air-guitar in hand, and a metro pass sticking out his (I am presuming this fictitious reporter to be male) back-pocket, annotating and indexing facts in a whirlwind whistle-stop tour of the city, all in a traipse of 4 kilometres of metro-track!
Exactly a week ago, another piece, titled, “Bangalore; best Indian city to live in: Survey” (The Times of India, Bangalore, November 30, 2011) anointed Bangalore as an Indian prima donna in terms of standard of living. This survey, by HR consulting major, Mercer, was not too kind to Bangalore when stacked against the rest of the cities around the world. Bangalore breasted the tape at 141 out of a total of 221 cities! In fact all our metros were packed sardine-like in a narrow band of ten places: New Delhi (143), Mumbai (144), and Kolkata (151). In terms of safety though, the Indian metros fared marginally better.
The findings of two pieces of research exerts tremendous pressure on us citizens (or should I say, Netizens) of Bangalore. The world’s third most favourite city, just after London and Muscat, and just ahead of Hong Kong and Stockholm, indeed would dilate our telangiectasias with joyous pride and bring a proverbial lump to our collective jugular. Now, had it not been for that Mercer survey, we could have wallowed in sun-drenched bacchanalia, much akin to a beach resort during Lent! But alas, the arbiters of Bangalore’s position on the world-map select trifling attributes of mensuration to capture the soul of a city. The validity of facile surveys also needs to be questioned: the effort and money that goes into generating a global ranking, seriously, could be better used to capture a drop of water for the parched throats of Bedouins in sub-Saharan geographies!
But continuing on a lighter vein: how do we reconcile to hiccupping polarities of gradation when it is thrust upon us by the pleasant side of corporate posturing? What gift-wrapped largesse Lonely Planet distributed in a bout of not-so-lonely camaraderie was ripped open, a week earlier (sadly), by the pen-knife of the Mercer-siders! Well, as Indians we certainly know how to gambol with such extremes: take the good with the bad, the high with low, and keep a gilded hope for the future – damn! We have to beat the Muscat-rats next time! And as for London: how do purveyors of a divide-and-rule colonizing dictat upon the unsuspecting third world continue to brighten the skies of a gloomy and rainy city!