So what’s in a city name. A New York called as Jhumri Talaiya will still have traffic problems on all the bridges on thanks giving. So is there anything like a city character. Is city an entity which has a mood, character, willpower or culture as lot of media would wants us to believe. Tough for me ot answer as I am no expert on city scientist.
Let me tell you a background of all the cities I have lived in to narrate you my research done in the most unscientiffic and biased manner. My childhood was spent in small towns in Utta Pradesh(Orai, Etawah, Farrukhabad, Fatehgarh). I don’t have much memories of these towns as I had simpler problems to think of at that age. Then I moved to Lucknow when I was around 13. After Lucknow I spent 4 years in Kanpur studying at IIT. I can hardly count that as experiencing the city as IIT was always a city in itself. I have been living in Bangalore from 1995 and do visit Delhi occasionally to meet family and friends. Besides these cities I have also spent some time in Ottawa, Montreal, Wallingford(Connecticut), Seattle and Mountain View.
Let us first talk about Lucknow, the language is sweet and people are courteous. The shopkeepers go head over heels to say sweet things to anyone who passes in front of their shops. Usage of words like Bhai Sahab, Mataji, Bhaiya(not the Mumbai context) is quite liberal. If you talk to people who have been in the city for a long enough time, usage of Urdu in their language adds sugar to the voice.
Bangalore is a place where if you ask directions for a place, there will be lot of people who will almost take you there. In the recent past the traffic woes have certainly contributed to a significant reduction in the warmth of people but it is still manageable. One of the place where I have seen a reduction of warmth in Bangalore is in small shops. Since there are lot of people with high disposable incomes in the city, the shopkeepers do not mind loosing a few. Sometime they are not concerned or a bit rude.
Now coming to Delhi, it is tough to pass through Delhi and not get attacked by a rude conversation. At least I have not managed it for years now. In one incident some guy on the airport just touched my suitcase when I was taking it out of a taxi and his claim was that I will need to pay him for this. In last incident I had a taxi owner was not ready to explain me some extra money he was charging me. In both the circumstances, I would have least resistance to pay money if the questions was asked in Lucknow/Bangalore style. In Delhi the default mode is offensive and courtesy comes later if they are convinced that the other party can harm them.
Talking about cities in Canada, I always found them warm(despite the weather). If you are trying to ski on a slope, there will be enough people who will come over and help you. In US I have seen more of a non-interested culture. People just do not want to accept that other also exist in this world. There is artificial warmness in some patches but not a lot.
What makes me wonder is how a cities character gets defined? Is it about few role models or traffic or economic conditions or history and language. Whatever maybe the reason but it is for sure that people do develop some of their traits based on the city they grow up in. I wish I could steal few good things out of all these cities and build something which is more liveable and warm. What if cities attributes were like software components…….?