City, I now pronounce you the Silicon Valley of this nation!
And as Bangalore couldn’t object, it became the Silicon Valley of India and they all lived happily ever after.
Let me share the inception of this story first. My recent house hunting experience in Bangalore, which made me lose faith in real estate portals (99acres, CommonFloor, MagicBricks, Makaan, Nobroker, …) and then the city itself. After extensively searching through all of these for 3 weeks (yes, and no success), the best value add I got was a few more agents in my contact list, but my friends did as much a good job. These portals didn’t help me find my dream home, no, they found me agents who could have(if the stars were aligned right), helped me find a house that would have (if at all) checked a few boxes for me. So at the end, none of the properties I shortlisted online converted into my future home. Keeping in account that most of them were either dated posts that were already rented out or just wrong posts with broker’s imagination painted on it. But I was equally stubborn about finding the right one. I went on the regular journey with most of these agents, through poorly constructed, zero sunlight houses to a standalone under construction apartment building that was way over my budget. There were multicolored tiny houses in a congested street next to a posh locality and then there were huge apartment buildings which were only accessible through a secluded narrow road. It felt like the broker never understood my needs right, as a friend pointed out — I was one of the difficult customers for them.
The problem is not that of the agents or portals though. Agents offer what is available. Online portals meanwhile say they are organizing an unorganized sector. That’s true, they are simply organizing a list of what’s available in this sector.
Revelation… there is no dream home! There are poorly planned, sloppy constructions with inconsistent neighborhood and unreasonably high price tags.
Which means, the bad boys of this industry are unarguably the real estate players,builders, planners and regulators. Basically, the creators of these properties who do not keep in account the key principles of livability.
All I had asked for, was a nice house in a good locality. I was ignorant, for this combination doesn’t exist here, more so not with a moderate budget.
Cut to the day when Bangalore became Silicon Valley of India and the elite IT class of the city felt a sudden sense of pride and accomplishment that could survive them for a lifetime. Along came the influx of people from all geographical dimensions and rest is history. Today is even better, with Bangalore now being a hub for tech-startups and even more eligible to be called Silicon Valley. That being said, is this tagging really worth all the hype? Though the city was, once.
Like any other city right at the initial stages of urbanization, there were times in Bangalore when it was green with just the right amount of human population and extremely favorable climatic conditions. Outsiders like us would still appreciate its weather, but ask the locals and you’d know it isn’t “nice” anymore. I haven’t witnessed those days but have only heard of them. Back in those days, it was the Garden City. It has now been morphed into an unruly jungle of concrete. So was this an unpreventable trade off Bangalore had to make to become the Silicon Valley? Well, in that case every Silicon Valley including the original one should have been equally messed up. Clearly, Bangalore was never planned for this expansion.
Most of the people who have moved here love this place for its metropolitan culture but I wonder if they ever noticed or cared about how the city looks outside their IT parks and their weekend pub crawls.
One of the few things that I can’t help but notice includes this funny change in scenery within every few kilometers. Broad roads and green patches for a moment till you take that fateful left turn and you are back in time. You find yourself in a tier 3 surrounding with old tiny makeshift houses, narrow roads and people indicating with their stares that you do not belong there. This is right behind the street with all the big brand outlets, expensive dining places and an ultra-modern workspace. I wonder what it is like to live right next to a world so contrary to your own which you witness and aspire to be a part of everyday but can never afford to be. And then, the sidewalks! Seems like the concept of user friendly sidewalks has eluded majority of this city. There are paths that are supposedly meant for people to walk, but with enough highs and lows people tend to shift to roads instead. These sidewalks, especially in commercial areas are the filthiest. So as much the tech minds of this city are trying to master the user interfaces and experiences within the virtual world, the local authorities seem to be ignorant of its need in the real world.
Nevertheless, I shouldn’t complain. Because “hey we are in India and that’s how most of the cities are, even abroad!”
Right, but — this isn’t how cities are supposed to be.
This city constitutes of intellectual clusters which have made it consequential on the map of revolutionizing economies. It is home to brilliant minds who are capable of finding solutions to all possible inconveniences of our times. But of course the issues which Bangalore face today are beyond the realm of creative problem solving, it is as much a matter of power and authority. However, for this city to keep nurturing such minds, it is important to have an equally supportive environment. The current environment, I feel is exhaustive.
Despite of all the mismanagement, the city still seems to be growing. Growing in terms of companies, flyovers, buildings, traffic and people. Is this the development a city needs? I don’t know. All I know is that a city first needs to get its basics right. Basics in terms of air, water, food, shelter and then a decent infrastructure to support everyday living for everyone.
Bangalore, I don’t know you much. All I know is that you are the Silicon Valley of India today. Not sure if this was your dream too. I know no one asked you and it went out of control. I don’t know if the children of the valley can give you your life back. I don’t even know who the legit ‘children of valley’ are. Till then, those who want to live here have to compromise with one thing or the other. And hence the conclusion is, I need be less fussy about this new house.
No, it isn’t that bad.