“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way—in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”Charles Dickens
This is a new tale of two cities. One with phoenix like capabilities and the other with a mythical lineage. This is the story of the path they traversed over the past 10 years or so. This is the tale of opportunities lost. This is the tale of Deadly and Greedgaon.
Liberalisation was doing its job and money was coming in thick and fast. All the key economic indicators were looking up. Multinationals were setting up shop big time. These were the times when “outsourcing” was the buzz word and not a bad word.
The real estate hawks had got it right. The waiting game had paid off. All the farmland that they had picked up was about yield rich dividends not of the green kind but of the concrete kind.
In Greedgaon tall, shiny glass buildings came up and so did swanky high rise apartments, the cycle of prosperity had been kicked.
The BPOs took the bait because they had worked on keeping the cost base low and the MNCs saw virtue in picking up the false ceilinged, centrally air-conditioned replicas of where they came from. So out went the socially and politically correct Rajendra Places, Nehru Places and the business districts moved out of Deadly and into Greedgaon.
The BPOs and MNCs both needed people and people is not a thing this nation was short of then or is now for that matter.
Well, all these people needed a place to stay and since Deadly and Greedgaon were not “well connected” in those days Greedgaon became the better option.
The offices and the apartments had come up with the people moving in the malls sprang up too.
There was of course one teeny-weeny problem there was still no connectivity between Deadly and Greedgaon save the Multiple Gaddhas Road or as it is known the MG Road. For people who had moved to Greedgaon roads continued to be something like science fiction i.e. possible, but only in the future, one that is still awaited.
The powers that be were enamoured by infrastructure and aided by all the trips the netas were making to neighbouring China decided it was time for the Deadly Greedgaon Expressway. Now have they not told you that “Good things come to those who wait; All good things take some time” and time they did take.
In the meanwhile, roads or no roads, connectivity or no connectivity the hundreds of thousands who had joined workforce at the plush offices in Greedgaon had to get to work and get around. The money was good and loans came easy it was time to give another sector a boom. The upwardly mobile executives bought their shiny sedans and monstrous SUVs and started zipping around.
Now we had large offices, lots of apartments, huge malls, thousands of cars but still no roads.
Time passed, more offices, more apartments, more malls and more cars came up and the good thing that all were waiting the Deadly Greedgaon Expressway finally opened.
The expressway was world class with its wide metalled roads and neat signages, there was of course one minor problem. The expressway went over practically every important road (the reference is to physical places where they are supposed to exist!) of Greedgaon.
Now, while Greedgaon was busy becoming the Million-hole City, Deadly was attempting another rise from the ashes. The Metro started, roads widened, more flyovers came up and more people could get to the Greedgaon Tollgate faster obviously in their faster, high powered fuel guzzlers. And then the people waited, no not for good things but just to reach wherever they wanted to in Greedgaon.
The bottomline, over the years the BPOs/MNCs benefitted from the low costs; the real estate guys made big money selling, leasing, developing; the local farmers turned cubby hole millionaires; the car companies made great fortune selling cars; the oil companies too kept afloat since people with their BS IV compliant cars were now consuming more fuel for travelling the same distance.
Deadly on the other hand was scheduled to host “The Games” and so the forward thinking government declared that it intended to transform Deadly into a world-class city.
Thus began Deadly’s travails. The Madame at the helm of the affairs like all things Deadly deemed that improving public transport was key.
On the agenda amongst several noble things was converting the fleet of buses into green machines albeit prodded, nudged and eventually kicked by the judiciary before some part of it could be implemented. First the orders and then the deliveries were delayed oh yeah we must remember “Good things come to those who wait”.
Next on the list was a master-stroke called BRT(Bus Rapid Transit) that perhaps single handedly causes more misery to more people at any given instant than anything known.
Honourable mention for the almost Tughlaq-esque beautification drive that involved uprooting the existing lampposts and replacing them with new ones or uprooting existing signposts and replacing them with new ones or digging up the existing footpaths and relaying them and oh did i forget to mention the re-colouring of all traffic poles.
The citizens through this all have gone through a melee of juxtaposed emotions patient yet irate, brazen yet accommodating, troubled but at times impressed and disgusted yet hopeful.
To conclude a few lines from the epic…
“I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss, and, in their struggles to be truly free, in their triumphs and defeats, through long years to come, I see the evil of this time and of the previous time of which this is the natural birth, gradually making expiation for itself and wearing out.”