Monday, February 07, 2011

All the Bunkum about New Urbanism

Heard in a crowded train, the following meaningless words. It shows people are making conversation because they have a phone, not because they have something to say:

"I had nothing else to do, so I called you."

"I was looking at your number in the mobile phone so I thought of calling you."

"People have come from their weekends, so this crowd."

"The government is doing nothing."

"Your hand is poking my ribs."

"You pushed", "you pushed", "you pushed", "you pushed" arguments.

"We are like animals."

"No, even animals are better."

Ha... ha... ha...!

Meaningless talk, meaningless issues, meaningless commute.

Today was bad in train. I was almost swamped by people. It was also growing hot signaling, perhaps, the end of winter. I was wearing a sleeveless jacket as precaution, but it seemed I had on too much. The book I had brought to read remained in the jacket pocket. I was inundated by walls of flesh from all side. I don't want to go into a homily about "growing urbanisation" and "modern conurbations." It gets too boring.

Churned by muscles into a whirlpool of flesh, jostled in a never-ending quick-flowing stream of people entering and exiting near the door I hear a thud. I look down. A commuter's lunch box has fallen down. There it lay, it's owner unable to retrieve it for fear of being trampled. Poor man's lunch and lunch box is gone for sure.

I know some of the commuters who are traveling with me. Most of them have cars. None of them drive to work or, at least, car pool to work. This may sound selfish but I would like to see the trains a little less crowded, as it used to be when I came to live in Artist Village, New Bombay, 22 years ago. There is a man who is a senior person in a real estate fund. I know because he had suggested some business opportunity, which didn't interest me. He has a good income at least five time mine. Yet he prefers to travel in the crowded train.

Oh God! Are we daft or what? Why are we so insecure? He must have purchased a Rs. 6-million (USD 131 thousand) 2-bedroom flat and a Rs 1 million car (Yes, I have ridden inside it.) just to show off. Then why isn't he using the car? I mean, people who have cars should travel by car and not crowd people like me out of the train.

Look at the average population densities in urban centres in the following countries (I know I am comparing apples to oranges but just to give you an idea):

  • Canada - 400/km2
  • US - 10,00/km2
  • China 1,500/km2
  • Bombay 22,922 /km2

This must be the most crowded city in the world and it's growing every day. Yes I can feel it in my bones which are crunched by the churn of flesh around me. I hear this bunkum about "gated communities" and "new urbanism." But to them let me ask this:

"What about quality of life? Are you pretentious millionaire traveling in a train satisfied with the quality of life you are getting? Outside your 'new urban communities' you will face the same problems all over again. So, what's your future?"

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