The Broken City Model of Urban Growth


Valid thought! We need to fix our cities before they break and if they are already broken, what then?

Originally posted on Decisions, Decisions, Decisions:

Are some cities so ‘broken’ that they are prohibitively expensive to fix?

That thought has occurred to me considering the growth of Dubai, where its problems are being fixed, too late maybe, and at too great a cost if they were fixed earlier, and probably the much needed public transport and other investment is not occurring at a rate fast enough to overcome the problems caused by rapid growth.

There are examples of cities that have grown so fast and with so little public investment that the urban dis-economies of scale (congestion) are higher than the urban economies of agglomeration which drives city growth.  In those cases the growth of a city slows down as the city simply cannot afford, without very high local taxes, to continue growing at the same rate, and attempting to tax at this level can lead to a downward fiscal spiral, of the kind we…

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My actions do matter, making sense amid chaos #MyDearAmericans #Sikhism #identity

One of the most viewed posts on my blog is my experience of visiting the Virasat-e-Khalsa Museum at Anandpur Sahib in Punjab. This morning, as I logged in to WordPress and saw that this post from  October 2012 was once again viewed and that too, from someone in North America, I began to imagine the kind of person who would search for information on the museum. Sikh immigrants of course, besides students of architecture and those researching museums of culture. What’s more interesting is that Moshe Safdie, who designed the museum, is of Israeli origin. It’s confusing, these cultural and nationalistic identities. It’s tough to be accepting and think beyond the stereotypes propagated around you.

I thought about this film- My Dear Americans, made by my friend Arpita and how, in a very short span of time, it explores the overlap between cultural and religious identity and human individuality.

In its own way, the film tells us that we need to think about who we are and what kind of a world we want to live in and how we can, with our own small actions, create a world we love. Disturbed intensely by all the violence in the world- the rapes, the killings at Gaza and the shooting down of another Malaysian Airlines plane- and struggling with how to reconcile these with the daily ups and downs of our lives, I see films like these as slices of truth. Small vignettes that keep me sane, that tell me that life is complex and that, despite its overwhelming complexity, my actions (however small) do matter.

You can help My Dear Americans win at the 2014 PBS online film festival by voting for it here



Anurag Kashyap Explains His Stand – On Rape, Feminism, His Short Film and more


Some important points in Kashyap’s interview. His discussion on rape is very nuanced and interesting. I learnt a lot from it. And his claim that films just tell stories and we interpret them the way we like is something all viewers ought to remember.

Originally posted on F.i.g.h.t C.l.u.b:

anurag--300x300Dear All,

When I am not making movies – which is thankfully rarely – my favourite pastime is to get fundamentally quoted without the context. Blame the lack of space in newspapers today with all those advertisements accounting for most of it. It helps to keep our conversation going, you see. And it has happened again. My whole conversation has been reduced to one line that’s being knocked around, “rape is a bad accident says anurag kashyap”

Fun though it is, I think it’s time I speak for myself and not let some out-of-context quote in a paper, or an edited version of a half-an-hour conversation do the talking.

Sitting here in Karlovy Vary I have been inundated with texts and mails about an interview of mine, that has of course, as always, been completely misread.  It does not help that a long conversation has been reduced to a paragraph…

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Our feet ached wonderfully everyday…Mulling about how to write my Summer 2014 travelogue

We walked and walked till our feet ached everyday…

This sort of sums up our summer Europe travels to The Netherlands and Germany. It is also a commentary on the wonderful ease of walking in European cities, something that never ceased to amaze Udai, who celebrated his tenth birthday during the vacation. Aadyaa’s boundless energy continued to delight us. We were right in assuming she is now old enough to be a proper type tourist, we told ourselves in congratulatory tones!

Perhaps it was the ideal temperature or the infectious happiness of being on holiday, but each evening we still had the energy to turn on the TV to cheer our favourite players and teams at Roland Garros and FIFA 2014. Of course, Team Oranje’s (Dutch) two fantastic wins against Spain and Australia as well as Germany’s good fortunes in those first few matches would not have been possible without Udai and Rahul’s lusty yells and Aadyaa’s somersaults!

And thus start my posts about our travels. In the season when travelogues inundate blogosphere (and FB is flooded with happy family pics that have the power to make you laugh or howl, depending on your state of mind while viewing), I’m hoping my accounts of our Europe trip will both entertain and inform. In 2011, when I returned from Barcelona after our first long summer vacation with both children (then 7 and 3), I was new to blogging and had compressed my experiences into one single, long post addressing one single theme. By our 2012 Istanbul couple trip, I had learnt to break the experience up into smaller easier-to-digest posts that carried more pictures. Earlier this year, I recorded my girly road trip with my two besties in a chronological-cum-thematic way. This time round, I’ve chosen to not blog real-time and am mulling the best way to write my travelogue, wanting to give it a fresh twist that I’m yet to find. Wish me luck and keep your eyes peeled for the many posts that are bound to follow!

The 400 million mark in urban India


Came across this insightful piece. What do you think?

Originally posted on Resources Research:

Urban_India_400million_201405By the end of 2014 June, a group of cities will cross important population thresholds. This upward procession of population numbers – for districts, cities and states – is scarcely observed by administration or by citizens, but continues apace. There is – in India’s 4,041 statutory towns (large cities included) and 3,894 census towns – little by way of monitoring and regular assessment of their populations.

Such an attitude simply means that policies and measures drawn up by administrations, universities, civic groups and voluntary organisations are out-of-date the instant they are final – because they are based on the population recorded in 2011 by the Indian Census of 2011 (which fixes the population in March of that year).

Measures to control and lower growth rates of population has become a subject on which there appears to be an unmentioned taboo, just as the subject of migration has become taboo

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Away from my blog for too long

I consciously decided to refrain from writing my travel experiences in real time. I learnt that from our Istanbul trip a couple of years ago that while it’s a joy to write when everything is fresh in my memory, writing every day takes away a bit from the real feel of a holiday. Frankly, not so much for me. I find writing therapeutic. But certainly for my family, who do not enjoy the ‘shut out’ time that represents me writing my blog while they would rather have me in the moment with them!
Today is the last day of the longest vacation we have taken in a while. We are in the Netherlands today and we’ve done a short visit to Berlin. Tomorrow we head back home to the burning temperatures of Delhi and the warm feeling of home.
I’m a bit sad to leave, but I’m also happy to get back to routine. To work, and to the final flurry of activity related to the children’s vacation time before they get back to school in July. And most of all, to my blog, which I have missed tangibly and which is crying out for me to return to its comforting and invigorating pages!



Fruit team reunites


For all lovers of fantasy, p[lease read Udai’s Fruit Team series, which concluded today (for the time being at least!). Feedback on his blog much appreciated!

Originally posted on theamazingud:

This is a continuation of the Fruit Team series. Previous posts are also on this blog.
“Where is Guava?”said Spawner fruit.”According to me he is dead,unfortunately the impact was too much for him” said broccoli.
“Oh, and by the way, I thought we should build a teleporter and teleport rest of the fruit team into space because I got a contact from mango saying junk food was planning to go into space”said spawner fruit.
“Awesome idea! I just made it!” said broccoli, placing the teleporter in the ship. “Hi mango, hi starfruit, hi banana, hi grape!” said both of them. “Hi” they said, “it has been bad on the planet ever since you both went away. Junk food now has even better restaurants they have made flying saucers and are coming to space”.
So to prepare against better restaurants they made two more ships, armed the fruits new to space…

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Awesome fun at the U1 Inme Camp at Uroli


Udai’s documentation of his first camp experience! Thank you Team Inme

Originally posted on theamazingud:

I went to a camp for 6 days [4 days at camp and two travel days]. This is the Inme camp at Uroli and it was my first camp experience.
 I liked it very much. In each of the 4 days at camp, we had a WOW activity, a COOL activity, meals, time for hygienic things and warm up.
 WOW activities were divided into 4 [one each day]- wilderness craft, rock climbing and rappelling, backpacking and ropes course.
I have rated these, as follows:
 Wilderness craft- 5 stars[max.]
Backpacking- 4 stars
Rock climbing and rappelling- 4 stars
Ropes course- 4 stars
We had so many COOL activities that it’ll take at least half a page to write about them! Overall I would’ve given it four stars.
 You might be thinking what all these things are. Wilderness craft is how to survive in the wild without rations. Backpacking is how to…

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[Podcast] Realizing the Right to Adequate Housing

Originally posted on the city:

Miloon_kothariMiloon Kothari discusses his work as the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing and how this right can be realized in practice

Listen to the program. Subscribe to the weekly podcast here.

Miloon Kothari is the former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, and he spoke at Simon Fraser University–Woodward’s on July 9, 2012.

Mr. Kothari’s talk is titled The Right to Adequate Housing: From Practice to Policy to Practice. He discusses his work as Special Rapporteur, the similar and distinct challenges facing a variety of countries and cities, specifically Vancouver, and how the right to adequate housing can be realized.

Thank you to SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement for permission to broadcast this talk.

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Tandanu & the power of whacky in that “happy place” called the Internet

In the midst of the excitement surrounding the swearing in of our new Prime Minister and the array of ministers that he is bringing in, I celebrate the sounds of Indian Ocean’s new album, Tandanu. The sounds have been playing in my head since last month. This morning, The Hindu supplement carried a piece about the band and there’s a curious piece of information about why they named it Tandanu.

It’s the name of one of the songs in the album, but has no specific esoteric meaning or symbolism. Of a bunch of names, they chose it because it sounded musical and nothing by that name showed up on the Internet! Amused and laughing, I wondered at the simple logic of the choice. What a great branding strategy and one we all use everyday, to stand out and be unique on the Internet, the entity that my 20-something year-old cousin Shruti called “a very happy place” when we met up yesterday!

Just last week, in branding ideation sessions for two separate business ventures being started by close friends, the teams struggled to wean themselves away from the trap of logic and rationale, meaning and association. To venture into that unique world of whacky and catchy. To take that brave new step to choosing names that stick in the head, make the reader screw up their faces with question marks on their foreheads.

It’s not always possible. We are a generation still mired in the old ways, but we’re beginning to open up to new possibilities.