K. JAVEED NAYEEM writes: Although I know that Mysore does have its own charm, I have still often wondered why people compliment us so much over our luck in being in such a nice City. But it is only when we compare Mysore with other cities that the difference becomes striking.
I was in Hyderabad very recently and despite all the recent talk of this historic city having become a modern cyber hub, I was badly disappointed by what I saw there.
Historically speaking Mysore and Hyderabad have much in common. Both cities have a rich and regal past, having been the seats of royalty for long. Consequently both have many palaces and other private and public buildings where the fine aesthetic taste of the rulers and builders shows above plain utility. Both cities have their own culture and cuisine.
Although Mysore has been changing at a rather fast pace of late, Hyderabad seems to be doing so at a much faster pace and it is here that we Mysoreans should take some lessons on the pros and cons of rapid growth and development.
Much was said about the astonishing growth of Hyderabad especially during the time of Chandrababu Naidu, who perhaps unfortunately made the biggest mistake of his political life by thinking that converting good old Hyderabad to Cyberabad held the key to his political future.
He concentrated so much on transforming his capital into a capital-generating powerhouse that he quickly forgot that he had the rest of the State to rule. Consequently we all saw the quick fall in his popularity and the quicker rise in disillusionment and even militancy all over his state.
Yes, Hyderabad has grown, but how?
The only two changes that I saw there besides the fact that it has overgrown its former geographical boundaries is that it is now full of the much needed flyovers which are the only solution to any city’s growing traffic needs.
Hyderabad has one flyover at almost every road intersection, but the question is how useful they really are? I discovered that as things stand today these flyovers too just stand, utterly useless, as almost every one of them is incomplete, thanks to changing governments and therefore consequently changing priorities. Unlike in most other countries, in our country progress only means undoing everything the others opposed to us have done even if it means going many steps backwards.
We saw very recently how one of these half-completed concrete giants collapsed killing a few persons and also trapping dozens underneath. The traffic chaos that these grotesque monsters were meant to relieve remains much the same.
It is in fact worsening by every passing day and the snarls were so much worse than what we have at Bangalore that on every day of my stay there, it used to take me all the time I had allotted for sight-seeing to just reach my destination. Sans sane planning the outer fringes of the city are continuing to just expand, converting it into what my medical mind could only see as one giant malignant tumour.
Amid all this progress which I perceived as just another kind of poverty and nothing else, what struck me as the most jarring difference between our City and theirs was the almost complete absence of trees and greenery.
It was as if no one there has ever thought of planting anything but concrete poles and pillars that are at present supporting nothing. Except for an occasional elderly neem tree here and there from the days of the erstwhile Nizams the city simply does not have any evidence of any recent tree planting whatsoever.
Consequently, wherever you go, you only find heat and dust. Years ago I used to visit Hyderabad quite often for its beautiful sights, its broad roads and sprawling shopping areas, especially on Abid Road and also for its famous biryani (although I have always felt that our own version of this Mughal delicacy is still the best).
After a long gap of many years while I eagerly went there again hoping to see a very inspiring kind of transformation, I returned not only completely disappointed and disillusioned but also a little alarmed.
Alarmed that we too in Mysore are slowly heading in the same direction towards growth that our available roads, recourses and civic amenities cannot sustain for long.
There are many among us who are ecstatic that Mysore is becoming another happening city and an arena of opportunities. It may no doubt be true but in addition to attributes like these we should have the most important quality that makes Mysore or any other place hospitable: comfort and convenience. It is these two elements that make the great difference between a restful mind and the rat race and the difference between sound sleep and sleeplessness.
K. Javeed Nayeem is a practising physician in Mysore, who writes a regular column in Star of Mysore, where this piece originally appeared