Smart Idea?

sprawl cartoonAfter all the debate, various meetings, a lot of input and work, Nashik hasn’t been selected in the list of 20 Smart cities. Just to put things in perspective for a few oh-we-are-so-swag-youngsters, it is as bad as your 8th prospective girlfriend turning down your proposal on your 64th attempt. Yeah! While some are quite openly disheartened, some are relieved, some mocking the whole thing (like they mock everything anyway), others are just wondering what they should talk about in awkward social meetings here on!

What is a smart city?

Wikipedia describes smart city as -“A city equipped with basic infrastructure to give a decent quality of life, a clean and sustainable environment through application of some smart solutions. There should not be any difficulties for the general public or things that they find hard to get in the smart cities.”

profiling_participatory_budgeting_cartoon_large.previewBasically, the aim is to provide great sanitation, transportation facilities, and adequate water supply, build an ecosystem, manage waste, etc. Well, isn’t that what any city, smart or not, supposed to grow into? Or have we elected a government, just so that they can throw a mega birthday party with our money?

Smart city uses information and communication technologies to enhance the quality of performance, increase interaction between the people and government, digitize the entire planning and development process. Well, in our country, literacy is an issue, let alone digital knowledge. So, one has to be very very very lucky – you know, born under the perfect planetary positions (consult your jyotish)- to be in the cream 5% population who understand what it is, and will be able to use the facilities the way they are intended to be! Oh, by the way, if you are reading this on some device, congratulations and be grateful.

Basically, each town/city/state is allocated with some funds for development, expansion and growth. Then, the government comes up with some schemes under which, a few cities get extra funds for development. As the trend has been, we know who all have developed and prospered. And now with more money flowing in, oops, I mean funds being allocated, we can sort of foresee who all are going to flourish!

Oh this topic reminds me, the funniest thing that happened this week was rumours of a certain “Mr. Power” being no more. Hang in there guys, what’s the rush? Well…

Anyway!

Amidst all this economic hoo-ha and political jargon to the smart city concept, I hope a few things are taken care of during the implementation of these plans –

  1. Reservation quota for developing tribal areas, inhabited by SC/ST/OBC. (Here it is important, just for your information, government)
  2. Addressing local needs, culture and architecture, and not just block-printing the same idea across the nation. One shoe doesn’t fit all. Never.
  3. No cheating, or we will…umm, forget it, we are busy vacation-ing!

Well, as for me, I am just awaiting Mr. Kejriwal to announce his own rule of “over-smart city”, since Delhi isn’t on the list. Oh, you get the pun!

Culture of Politics or Politics of Culture?

Now that Gandhi Jayanti is over, we can all get back to bribing that traffic hawaldar, lying at the drop of a hat, and spitting on that newly painted wall! Not that yesterday we did not indulge (cheers to all those who managed to have a drink), but at least there was a national sentiment as such!

For all those who were high- of course because of Friday holiday- I will remind you that yesterday marked the 146th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, 111th birth anniversary of Lal bahadur Shastri, and the 1st anniversary of Swachch Bharat Abhiyan. It was basically a day of trending Gandhiji on twitter, leaving for Goa for the long weekend, and using Gandhian messages for political good!

I feel this is one topic on which a lot is written, a lot is filmed, a lot is said and quoted, and a little is acted upon! Actually, in retrospect, I will take my words back. I feel we are doing our best to act on all Gandhian principals! No, seriously! For example, Gandhi’s philosophy was based on principal of Swadeshi, and we firmly believe in Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (One World Family). All it takes is to know how and when to put two and two together!

Gandhian thinking is essentially about a sustainable way of life, an economic system based on trusteeship and a society in which everyone gains rather than the few become rich at the expense of the many. It is a complex, inter-related system of thought. We are so on the right path –which is made by our government. Hence, the delay!

These days Gandhiji is in our books, on our roads, on our walls, in our pocket and in the political campaign speeches! But not in our heart or behavior. We as a country suffer from selective learning. We have so much knowledge about every subject at our mercy, but we tend to twist and manipulate it in our stride – and use the knowledge only to save our face! Some people happened to read, “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind” and thought, bingo! That is exactly we want to do. They are all leading our country at the moment, and just for the record, we are blind!

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I firmly believe that Gandhian philosophy is relevant today, more than ever! This century has seen a tremendous rise in globalization, privatization, violence, inequity, poverty, et al. We direly need a Gandhi to save our face in this highly consumptive world! His ideals hold a moral and social mirror to our society! But sadly, while one of Gandhiji’s most famous quote is “Be the change you want to see”, we tend to boo the change we are seeing.

Although Gandhiji has been made an icon of “Clean India”- I think we are taking it too literally. Of course, cleanliness is very important, but all his teachings give more importance to an India cleaned of corruption, violence, hatred, inequality, injustice and the like.

I dream of a Gandhian Swachch Bharat!

Done Done London!

Well yeah, I know that it is a very off-the-wall phrase from the movie Jab Tak Hai Jaan, meaning “it’s a deal”. But I have used it as a very bad metaphor to have checked “Visit London” off my bucket list. I am not even sure if it qualifies as a metaphor actually!

Anyway, 2014 has been a great year! A very quick, not exactly last minute, but a sudden plan to travel around England turned out to be a brilliant one! Thank God for sisters who decide to do their masters abroad – you get to plan a I-will-go-get-her-back trip there, not to mention she is the one who actually gets you back! (Also, is it too soon for Can-I-accompany-her-for-graduation ceremony-next-year?) It was also a one-of-a-kind trip abroad, since it was only us three sisters travelling! (We really missed you Jiji!)

Well, of course anyone loves to explore any area “as the locals do”, but when you come to London, I think there is a charm in doing the clichéd touristy routine – at least once in your life – whether it is the mesmerizing view from the London eye, taking a typical picture with the red bus, booth or cab, walking over tower bridge, feeling patriotic looking at Sachin’s pictures at Lord’s, visiting Buckingham Palace, feeling a star at Madame Tussuads or paying to see our very own Kohinoor at the Tower of London.  And meeting old friends at far off land is incomparable! They are local guides to places no internet website will mention but are worth every penny! The best lunch I had there was a place Samidha hunt down for us vegetarians! :*

And London aakar agar koi musical nahi dekha toh kya khaak London aaye! It was one of the most beautiful visual treat at lyceum theatre, watching the gorgeously done Lion King. Oh my! It has been one alluring sight I have witnessed in the longest time.  While we are talking about sightly, I have to mention the day trip to breath-taking Stonehenge, splendid Roman Bath and the exquisite Windsor castle! *Note to self – Next time in UK, stay an extra day at Bath.

Inserted between was a brief trip to Manchester! Though I am not a die-hard football fan, there was no two way about visiting the plush Old Trafford stadium! One just cannot stop gawking once there! And then a visit to the delightful York was very pleasing! It is definitely a must-visit town in England, just for the sheer beauty of the countryside!

And when you are with Vinita, there has to be some adventure (read amusement park) added to the outline – so that she leaves you at peace with rest of the list! And that led to a day well spent at Alton Towers – one hell of a park! I haven’t been to any other park with this variety of roller coasters! While I am really a scaredy-cat, I did manage to ride quite a few of them! *beams with pride*

Phew! We did manage to pack quite a lot of things in the short week in England, but that place draws you to it. The swanky London architecture, unblemished streets, neat parks, swift and smooth underground, delicious cupcakes, lively city centres….Ah! I just need a reason to be back there, and I dare say – hopefully soon! And of course, Scotland is yet to be checked off the list, you know!

Declutter

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Clean your room, I was told, not clear your mind,

Keep things in place, not thoughts in check,

Be neat and tidy, not strong and mighty,

Oh, I wish, order in mind was made elementary!

Most of us like things in order.Yeah! We do. Remember the happiness of investing half a holiday in cleaning your room, clearing the mess, throwing away the past, sticking to what is needed? It is often correlated to feeling light.  Is it?

I think what we do with our mind is exactly the opposite. Most cleanliness freaks have messed up minds! In fact, we stick to our shit, our past, our emotions, our hatred, our mistakes, our guilt like they are the most important part of our being. Moreover, we not only do not let them go, we also compare and prove how our shit is better than theirs! It is surprising, fascinating!

Seriously, notice it the next time. If one person is telling the other how his life sucks, the other person will, in most cases, say, “Yeh toh kuch bhi nahi hai!” and goes on till the person 1 feels awesome about his life! We take pride in our crap! In doing so, we waste the present, and make it a part of the crappy past! Oh, crap!

Lets start cleaning our mind. NOW. Create space for today. Make more room in there. Choose what you keep. Choose things that are pretty. Make it look good in your eyes. Feel good. Feel light. Let go. Declutter.