Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Paul Graham posts a good essay on his site, about the character of cities. Reading through it makes me want to go live in Berkeley right now. After reading this, I began to think about what characters we could assign to Indian cities. Delhi would, as far as I know, be all about connections and power, the way Graham describes Washington D.C.. Mumbai's character would have been like New York - all about Money - except that the film industry is there, too, so being big in that industry becomes a viable substitute for money for most. No doubt you folks could explain the characters of a dozen other India cities.

So where does that leave Bangalore? As my recent posts indicate, I wasn't too impressed initially by the place - a lazy sort of local population coupled with many, many people anxious to earn and spend money in vapid interests. Then, the other day (at a Mall's food court, if you must know), it came to me. This place is like a frontier town, like the Wild West, or a prospecting town like the Klondike. Making it big is the priority here for most. Skimming off their shares from these get-rich-quickers is the priority for a darker underbelly, whose form changes in every frontier town but who remain the same sort of people. There's the simpler, easygoing people who lived in the area before some outsourcer mined gold here and started the rush. There are the million saloons - or should I call them Malls and North Indian Restaurants - which are almost entirely frequented by these outsiders, springing up shiny and overpriced among the smaller sedate watering holes for the natives.

So what are they prospecting for? What is this the frontier for? Money, perhaps, or a chance to shine, or the good life. Perhaps they all bring their dreams with them, whatever they wanted in their own towns, and try to find them here. The smell of this city is too varied, too mixed up, too fresh, to have one single flavour yet.

2 comments:

pritham k said...

Hey Sudharshan, This is Pritham K. Chakravarthy, who translated the pulp from Tamil. Thanks for good word man. It is encouraging.

Sudarshan said...

Hi Pritham - Always happy to encourage good ideas. And I did enjoy the book, after all :). Best of luck with everything!