Back when I was in school, Bangalore was still known as the garden city. The weather was favorable all year and the city was teeming with lung spaces — gardens , parks, lakes rich in bio diversity and mitigated development.
One decade later, Bangalore is becoming a classic tale of Pandora’s box. With rapid changes in how large industries and companies function, the city has come to resemble a cartoon suitcase — its holding in more than it was designed for.
To add to the cauldron of troubles, global warming is catching up at an alarming rate. Every time Chennai or Andhra Pradesh has a cyclone, Bangalore is swept off its feet with torrential downpour resulting in flooded roads, uprooted trees and in some unfortunate cases, loss of lives.
With the turn of the millennium, Bangalore witnessed the dot com boom creating outsourcing — a concept nobody was familiar with back in the day. The downside was an increase in the number of office buildings, a large number of rashly driven cabs and human migration on a whole new level. While outsourcing has its advantages, on retrospect, they are far outweighed by the problems.
Every time I step out, I constantly find myself playing peek-a-boo with buildings that seem to have arisen overnight. And most seem to be empty, waiting for someone to turn four cold walls into a home.
And there are so many people! And not just during the day but even during odd hours. There have been traffic jams post-midnight. Every few weeks, the newspapers carry photographs of women holding water bottles with red/green/turbid water in them. Venture out late into the night and the city is shrouded by dense smog. Land is scarce, food prices are always attempting to touch the sky and everyday, the city is blessed with more mouths to feed and more souls to employ.
Almost thirty years ago, Bangalore had a good 51 lakes. Today however, only 17 exist of which most are in need of a good cleaning.
As I write this, I am reminded of the city of Detroit, Michigan and how during the industrial revolution, it thrived on the automobile industry. Everyone moved to Detroit in search for jobs and they were not disappointed. A few decades later however, Detroit is the perfect example of an apocalypse city.
The rate at which Bangalore is growing, it is only a short time before most residents will have to consider relocating. In the subject of urban planning, theories revolve around how every city is believed to grow in certain stages until a point where it becomes too large to sustain itself in any manner. This is when the city dies and is fondly remembered as the necropolis. Some theorists also go on to add that a necropolis results in the birth of a new city, one that grows out of the mistakes and shortcomings of the old city.
To most people, Bangalore was a place reminiscent of the American dream, and quite literally so. Today however, it seems like a ticking time-bomb. Every body knows it’s going to explode but we have reached a stage where nothing can really be done about it.
I’ve had fond memories of this city and everyday, I just hope they aren’t muddled by the ugly mask it’s wearing. Bangalore is bound to turn into a Detroit. Every night when the city turns out its lights, everyone prays that when the sun comes up, let this all be just a bad dream.