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👀 Do you like where you live?
#271 | A question of cities
I learned the art of flânerie from friends who don’t mind walking the longer route, friends who revel in observing and absorbing the things around them with no clear purpose. As someone who hasn’t always found urban areas very appealing, this was a revelation to me.
Cities can be fascinating spaces. They’re visible markers of the stories of a region, constantly written over like palimpsests of history, culture and ecology. A random turn of a street can carry hints of the people who live(d) there, the people who administer(ed) it, and their priorities. Friends who speak of their cities like they are old friends only add to the charm of urbanness in my mind. I imagine strolling through the lanes of Bandra or New Alipore. Buying flowers from the Green Park market. Peeking through the windows of intriguing stores in Connaught Place.
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But then I also imagine taking a local train to work and back every day. Wanting some fresh air only to be assaulted by traffic noise and polluted air when I open a window (if my room has one, that is). Or jumping over holes dug in pavements when I stroll around the neighbourhood.
Or like this Riverfront "rejuvenation" in Pune.
Not so appealing anymore, is it?
“People’s endurance is romanticised as the city’s spirit or resilience.”
This line from Question of Cities’ website stuck with me. The journal reminds me why I find cities mostly unlivable. But it also brings up questions about climate, infrastructure, equity and gender that I am glad people are asking of our cities. Sometimes, it even gives me hope that if we ask the right questions, maybe our cities won’t have to be how they are now.
What’s your favourite/most hated part of city living? Leave a comment, let me know.