It is easy to sit on a high horse and define a city as a ‘smart’ city. We can call every city of every country in the world a ‘smart city’ because each city is smart in its own way! Eternal nomads like us will vouch for this fact.
Can the infrastructure of a city mold the personality of the inhabitants? Do we have to adapt to the pulse of a city? Or can we continue to lead our lives at a pace that works best for us? Can we call a dream city a smart city? Are towering tall buildings, smooth slinky roads, lovely parks, clean water and a proper drainage system, great weather etc. necessary components of a smart city?
We, the clan of eternal nomads truly feel that the people of a city matter the most. We genuinely think that the people comprise the heart and the soul of the city. Yes, the infrastructure has a direct bearing on the lifestyle of the people. This infrastructure has the ability to straitjacket newcomers like us and forcing us to adapt. But over years a big bit of its personality and charm will also rub off on us.
One point simply needs to be mentioned here:
People work hard and lead hectic lives in all cities. Most people living in a metropolitan city or a smart city assume that the people living in tier 2 and tier 3 cities have an easier life compared to the hectic pace that they are forced to follow. That is most certainly not true. Nobody is free. Every soul out there has something or the other to do at all times. All of us lead extremely busy lives.
This smart city welcomes everyone warmly:
No, it was not a metropolitan city. Neither was the infrastructure all that great. Maybe you could categorize this smart city as a tier 2 city though I honestly don’t know what a term like a tier 2 or tier 3 city actually means.
The traffic lights never worked. But people always watched out for pedestrians and drove carefully and slowly at crossroads. Always.
Our brand new neighbors invited us for lunch within 30 minutes of stepping into our new homes. That gesture was the most touching of all. People went out of the way to make us feel at home. In fact, our neighbors even ensured that we got the water connection because they knew both of us were working. We didn’t even have to tell them to do so. They simply did it for us – willingly and quietly.
When it was time to bid adieu to the city – these very same people offered us piping hot cups of tea at 4 a.m. in the morning and dropped us off at the railway station. No, we rarely interacted. A quick hello and a swift smile were all we exchanged when we chanced upon each other on the street.
We arrived as total strangers, clueless and completely lost and with a lot of trepidation in our hearts. We didn’t know how this city would treat us.
But all our fears and doubts simply melted away when we were welcomed so warmly by the people of this city.
Yes, my eyes were smarting with tears when we departed from this city that so lovingly made me feel at home all the time.
And that is my definition of a smart city for you.
And yes – I proudly create my own definitions, my own dictionary and even my own meanings based on my personal experiences. I humbly salute the spirit and the soul of this kind city and will always cherish the memories that it has blessed me with.
This smart city simplifies and straitjackets our lives:
A big bustling throbbing pulsating city can scare the wits out of people like us who had lived in small sized cities for most of our lives. Small sized cities offer us conveniences that we can only dream of in such huge metropolitan cities. You can simply zip, zap and zoom on your two-wheelers and cars and reach your destination within 10 minutes flat. You can even dream away while you breeze through the traffic free and traffic light free road.
But metropolitan cities have the potential of snapping you out of your dreams in a jiffy. The quickest means of transport are your own two legs here. Take a two wheeler or a three wheeler or a four wheeler and know for sure that you will get stuck in a traffic jam. So you learn to revamp your comfortable schedule and depart early. People even manage to read newspapers in overcrowded local trains. It does not matter whether you are a millionaire with half a dozen cars adorning your garage or a street vendor selling peanuts. Both will simply have to use the fastest means of transport here. The local trains and two legs.
Every possible convenience is available in every suburb for a price. Every commodity is available at differing price ranges. Take your pick. Shop for anything and everything at any time of the day and night and unwind by eating dinner at 2 p.m. in the night after indulging in a shopping spree till midnight. Nothing is impossible here.
But this smart city guarantees to straitjacket you within two days flat – because no one simply has the time or the energy to be crooked. No one – absolutely no one has time to fritter away here. Every minute is crucial and every thought is based on the convenience that is offered.
The people of such buzzing cities earn enough and more than enough through honest and fair means so duping you is just a huge waste of their time and energy. Simple, ethical and transparent transactions are the mantra of this smart city. And for hard working people, there are several avenues of earning a decent income. The stress can drain us and unnerve us but it also ensures a sound night’s sleep.
This truly smart city has molded us and made us physically and mentally independent. There was no one around to welcome us with open arms into our new neighborhood. But a hundred different stalls were open at all times of the day and night to satiate our hunger pangs.
That does not mean that the people of this smart city were indifferent or uncaring. They just knew that we would find our way on our own……..we just had to step out of our homes to locate every imaginable convenience on the street side.
Yes, it takes a whole lot of time to adapt to the pulse of a new city. We need to disconnect to reconnect. It is not so easy. Change is always painful but it also brings about a lot of personal growth. Today we carry a host of lovely memories and a part of each smart city within us all the time! The path has not been rosy all through but the heart throbs with happiness because we have learned a virtue called solitude! And we are grateful for this gift!