Blueprint for Change
It is 6 am and my body clock says it’s time to get up. I walk into my balcony to pluck out a leaf of the Insulin Plant to bring Hubby Dear’s sugar levels under control. I glance outside at the smog covered city and am depressed to think that my neighbourhood which probably has more millionaires per square foot than trees, is enshrouded in a grey depressing smog for at least four months of the year giving rise to several respiratory problems. The other times when the air is clearer, we have to live with the spectre of malaria and dengue with several pools of stagnant water collecting in constructions sites that seem to be for ever. And in the months when the clouds rain down, rivers of muddy water rush down the hillside collecting in pools of muck that are splattered by marauding buses on the hapless pedestrians walking by. The narrow, winding streets further contracted with cars parked on either side, lined with old decrepit buildings having seen better days, trees laden with dust and impoverished families converting pavements at the bottom of the hill into regular homes , makes it hard to believe that this is a posh part of the city!!!
Uncontrolled growth seems to be the scourge of my once beautifully planned city which my mother in law tells me was so clean and green as the streets were washed with soap and water once a week; a city where she could hear the water lapping by the sea side while slowly falling asleep; a city where people stood in queues and waited for people to cross the road…..
But that was at least half a century ago – I myself remember parks which were neat and tidy, roads with pavements that we could walk on, traffic that waited at signals and a courtesy that is now sorely lacking with everyone rushing around chasing dead lines and dreams, plodding purposefully day after day, returning home too tired and weary to enjoy time with the family they are working hard to provide for.
And in the morning they see off their kids to school waiting impatiently at bus stops, or cramped into car pools, their eye on the clock that seems ticking faster than normal.
I feel sad to see this city and its denizens robbed of a quality of life that is simply everyone’s birthright…….
A city where millions scramble each day for limited resources of land and money.
A city where children weighed down by heavy school bags and tuitions are robbed of a childhood, left in the care of indifferent nannies or caregivers.
A city where loneliness eats into the lives of old people waiting day after day for someone to talk to.
A city where walking on roads is a luxury, where unlimited water is more common than unlimited talk time.
A city where cockroaches multiply faster than you kill them, where scamsters and rogues emerge every day.
|Urban decay, New York City, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
A city festooned by posters of unscrupulous politicians, ugly billboards and hoardings
A city where poverty co-exists even in the poshest locality
So what can we do to cleanse this city of this scourge of poor governance, poverty, overcrowding and urban decay ?
If wishes were horses beggars would ride.
Can we really make this a better place?
We need an attitudinal change. We need to slow down. We need to stop hurrying to places. We need to take time off to reflect. We need to take time off to be with family. We need to take time off to re-discover ourselves, our inner needs and re-connect with reality. We need to think logically and take responsibility for ourselves and those around us – thinking of the collective good and not just individual gratification. We need to be true to ourselves and do the jobs assigned to us with sincerity of purpose. We need to want less and have fewer needs.
We need to elect people who are competent, ethical and professional and not choose them on the basis of caste, class, family or reservation. Meritocracy should be the sole criterion for selection. There should be a balance between democracy and autocracy. Sometimes you have to be cruel in order to be kind and we all have to learn to sacrifice – sacrifice time for others, sacrifice our needs for others.
We need to take a deep breath.We need to learn to be content.