Many people here describe Bangalore, the fourth most populated city in India, as cosmopolitan but how true is this? When I arrived I remember just seeing dirt everywhere. I expected everything to be dirtier than back home but the streets were a mess, I was sitting in traffic breathing in heavily polluted air and found myself walking on the road as pavements are simply death traps!
Bangalore is known as The Garden City but to be honest I have seen more greenery in Hyderabad and even Delhi so what happened? Well, the IT boom and as a result the city grew pretty much over (a few) nights. Bangalore, its residents and the state simply did not envisage this growth.
However, this did not stop the government, as many the world over do, from collecting taxes and not offering much in return. The state has not provided the infrastructure and services to cope with this growth; roads, water supply, electricity, traffic management, etc. Developers are building huge apartments with no roads and quite possibly not enough water supply to sustain this kind of growth. Traffic in many cities of India is crazy. You can sit in a jamb for hours; either in an nice air conditioned car, on the back of a bike (though you will probably opt to use the pavement like everyone else) or an auto rickshaw, both of which means you are fully exposed to a fresh mixture of exhaust fumes and delightful spells from a nearby ‘river of dreams’.
The Metro is years from completion, public transport is worth another blog in its self, even the main road outside my office has been under construction since I moved here over two years ago. Yet the flyover beside the airport was completed within a month “where there’s a will, there’s a way!” So, what for this city where Indians once came to retire?
I recently discovered a group who volunteer to clean up Bangalore and have been doing an inspiring job; they are simply taking things into their own hands. Their work is not overly challenging but they have given up on the state and are improving their city for their fellow residents.