Monday, March 24, 2008

Trivandrum..of my dreams.

This post is inspired from http://tvmrising.blogspot.com/2008/03/its-been-while-since-i-wrote-my-last.html

Trivandrum aka Thiruvananthapuram…I always wanted to write about my city…But I never craved a sense of belonging to the city when I stayed there. Maybe because I was an adopted resident of the city as my parents came from kottayam. But ever since I left the place four years ago, I have become fonder and more nostalgic of my city.

What is so special about Trivandrum is the unique position it is in now…A situation which if utilized can bring prosperity and growth beyond our imagination. It can if channeled properly generate wealth and increase multifold the living standards of the residents... To be treated with caution is that it doesn’t take the path of other cities where corrective action is too late. It is a challenge to both the administration and the people to handle the pivotal opportunity that has come at the cusp of our nation’s growth. Of late, I have been following several websites and chat forums which discuss the new projects and growth potential of the city. Many of them are a lovely read like Ajay’s blog which makes me feel gallant about being a trivandrumite. So that got me thinking about the greatness of our city…

There are many things which typical identify a great city…People ...Infrastructure...Culture...Location

If we aspire the city to be mentioned often enough in the global map we need all the four to give positive vibes to anyone. When for example when I ask someone what you feel about Mexico City it is the huge dense population that comes in picture...When I ask someone about Shanghai...people think about growth and world class infrastructure…Think about Paris and it is the romance…So each city has a USP which attracts or turns off people ....

Most of us aspire our city to grow and have a USP which would put it in the world map...Yes we have Kovalam which used to be our little USP …We have Technopark… We have VSSC…but are they worthy of mention in the current scale??...The answer is a resounding ‘NO’...

I don’t want to waste time cribbing the negatives and rather think how can we go ahead.. Here is the statistical comparison between two cities …Hamburg and Trivandrum.

Hamburg
Area 755 km² (292 sq mi)
Population 1,769,117 (10/2007)
Density 2,343 /km² (6,069 /sq mi)

Trivandrum
Area141.74 km² (55 sq mi)
Population• 744,739 (2001) Density 5,284 /km² (13,685 /sq mi)

Source : wikipedia

It might be intriguing to you about the choice of Hamburg …simply coz

1) I have been staying in the city for past year and half and got a fair know-how about what drives the city.
2) It is the second largest port in Europe.
3) It is the only city in Germany having a positive growth.

So assuming that we aspire Trivandrum develops into a port city in the future, we can expect large scale migration of people and increase in the Urban area of the city, which would mean, that we can expect the reach the statistics of Hamburg in future if certain things materializes. It might sound preposterous to compare Trivandrum with Hamburg, But I simply find that it is the most obvious thing to while setting targets.
A city of that magnitude would required

Infrastructure

1) Materialization of Vizhinjam Port
It is sad that we might have mentioned the word Vizhinjam more often in blogs than in any government documents or the dusty libraries of Ministry of Shipping…If there is no chance of that coming up sooner or later the whole post is a junk fairy tale. From what I have learned about the prospects of the port it would have been developed at meteoric pace by most other countries.

2) Excellent transport network
It might be audacious to propose a metro for Trivandrum. But I say it has to come some point of time anyway...isn’t? It might be of interest that Hamburg has had a metro for last 100 years . Our existing transport structure encourages people to use private vehicles which is what is least desired in a rapidly growing city. I believe people would be ready to abandon if comfortable and on-time public transport is provided. Assuming by the time technocity and other parks are fully operational soon, we wouldn’t be fancying 30-40k people traveling in own cars daily to work place...A metro would allow anyone to travel from say Pattom/Kowdiar to work place in 15-20 minutes. .

3) Relocation of futile infrastructure.
Honestly I don’t find any sense in having a stadium in the heart of the city…Probably we are the only city which is eating up good area of commercially viable area on three “not anywhere near world class “stadiums in the middle of town . Sad that it doesn’t even serve the purpose what it was initially built for…We have more party meets or channel award functions than anything else out there.. New sporting infrastructure in the outskirts of the city which would actually make sense of the term “world class” is what is required. The question that pops up is where the money would come from!! Yes I am sorry that I am no Warren Buffet and I assume the money is generated from converted commercial land and adequate private investment to be attracted …it would make sense!!…

4) Commercial culture
It is sad to admit that under current conditions Trivandrum is no shopping paradise...We don’t have a decent shopping street for that matter… What we have is a busy road from statue till east fort with shops and government offices on either sides and sporadic shopping plazas.. But it is crucial to develop something like a downtown shopping street which would actually make shopping a pleasant experience for consumers.

5) Airport
Sigh...How many umpteen times have we said this before…isn’t? With the existing infrastructure in Trivandrum airport it would barely fit the bill of international status...The 258 crore allotted to build the new terminal in my opinion is cosmetic and is a pitiful amount if we aspire to be a global city (just fyi 24000 crore is what is allotted for new terminal in Delhi (source:wiki)).

6) Resident space
Skyscrapers budding up around the city are signs of prosperity but to be taken in with caution, not at the cost of the environment…We are simply underestimating the cost we would be paying for lesser green cover. Blatant residential infrastructure development is the bane of most growing cities and authorities to be sensitive to environment and sensible pricing of the new homes built.

People

The “people” part of the city is as much or infact more important than the buildings and landscapes....Ofcoz when a city grows it is natural for influx of outsiders...That means we must be tolerant to new cultures and new lifestyles which they bring in...If Chinatown in London or Little India in Singapore are symbols of cities that welcomed other vibrant cultures, we must expect the same here… Embrace people from outside, be it from Delhi...Bangalore...Chennai. or Cochin. C’mon they are here for making a living and so do we…Does this all hatred make sense??

If I would say what is least attractive about Trivandrum is the political stigma attached to the place…Being Political conscious or aware doesn’t necessarily have to be translated to being politically militant… Funny when people give more importance to politics than their daily bread?? I would dream of the day when the outside world would be shocked to hear that hartals and bandhs used to happen on our state…Wouldn’t it make sense if you just think who is gaining out of the whole show!!
We need to educate people to change attitudes...Say hello to the traffic policeman. Say thanks to the bus driver…we can definitely put a conscious effort to make people happy about their jobs... And the people in those shops for god sake you are the seller…This is the most common complaint which I hear from outsiders about our city...Rather than blaming at people who are accusing us, lets correct ourselves…It aint dishonor to be good again.

The potential of our city is enormous...We can be a great port city...A niche IT metropolis...A fabulous tourist paradise...A class educational attraction…the potentials are plenty. There is a sense of hope and chance for us to be part of the change or define the change…Hope for a time when people would love the city for the modernity..for the heritage...for the beauty...and for the people...Hope to see better times for my city.

24 comments:

silverine said...

"The potential of our city is enormous"

A city is made up of people who identify with it. And the curse of most Indian cities is that it is peopled by people who don't. Trivandrum sure seems to have a special place in the hearts of all you Tvmites as you can see from the posts here and here and many more I forgot to bookmark. I sure hope your dreams and aspirations for your city come true like mine for namma bengaluru! Nice post!

Rockus said...

I distinctly remember reading this post a day or two ago in google reader. Came to comment and viola! Case of the missing post! Glad to see it back again :-)
As a Trivandamite I echo your thoughts and lets hope for the best!

Dhanush said...

Good One Mathew. My early memories of Trivandrum is visit I made during school days to our family friend. They still live there. TVM has that aura of being the capital or governmental city. And one should not forget the resident associations too.

Great Post

Seema said...

Well, havent been to TVM but here's a lots of info and can see that passion!
"Hope for a time when people would love the city for the modernity..for the heritage...for the beauty...and for the people...Hope to see better times for my city" ...Hope is a great thing (there are lovely lines on Hope in Shawshank Redemption)

On the New Delhi International airport check this out http://www.newdelhiairport.in/

~==[[[ Abhi ]]]==~ said...

Wish all our such HOPES are fulfilled in the time of our kids atleast :)

mathew said...

@Anju
I think i love my city after all..As a kid I was proud during my trips to native co with cousins i would boast that i come from the capital..they used to feel envious of us coz we had the beach..thanks for the links too..

@Rockus
high fives.. ;-P

@Dhanush
hahaaha..residents association is there every nook and corner out here..but some of them really do a good job.

@Seema
well Shawshank Redemption is one of my all time favs..and i clearly remember those lines..the hope there was on a human level..and here is of a group of people..will check out that site..am tad envious of delhites now.. ;-P

@Abhi
lets hope for the best..i believe things are changing now.

Neena Padayatty said...

Having spent most of my life at Tvm as an "adopted resident" myself,i would say Amen to your dreams for Ananthapuri.However i really hope some of them(efficient transport and shopping paradise)doesn't make it a choking city like Cochin.Think Tvm and those colossal structures of the Museum,the Kanakakunnu,the Raj Bhavan,the Kowdiar palace,The Secretriat,the Legislative Assembly Hall,the Chandrashekar Nair Stadium,the Trivandrum Central Railway station all flash through the mind.Not to forget those vast campuses of professional and non professional colleges.It will be a shame to lose it all for the sake of making it a metro.Maybe the plight of Cochin should be a foil to your dreams.

scorpiogenius said...

Mathew, its turning out to be quite a frequent accident coming across one passionate Trivandrumite after another in blogoshere!

Just when I was sketching out a blueprint about my visions about rejuvenating the old and small urban-rural union of Trivandrum, you sideswiped me with this jewel of a post...

Well, I'm in Dublin now(Republic of Ireland) and it seems as if we think alike when it comes to our hometown. I'm also an adopted son of Trivandrum and my roots go down to Alappuzha.

Nice to meet you here; and I'm also taking the liberty of blogrolling you, if you dont mind :)

Cheers!

Jiby said...

Mathew, good post...we definitely would need better infrastructure if we are to become a world class city. for sometime now i have been thinking of what development trivandrum really needs. for me a renewal of trivandrum's cultural, educational, research and social institutions both private and public is important...if we can achieve this, we can change people's mindsets because these can spawn people who can lead visionary thought. any city can be an IT city today with enough land, labour and capital...look at the ugly shit-hole that is kochi...the challenge is to build a city that grows in an allround manner.

i think you might have lit a spark for a post by me.

mathew said...

@Neena
When I mentioned metro it refers to the underground network just like in any western city..The kind of extensive underground network which runs in London or in Berlin doesnt in any way affect the historical landmarks..What they are planning in cochin is a cost cutting surface or elevated bahn which will ruin the beauty of the city..It is technically possible to created the underground network but the cost is what would be enormous there..I think our secretariat and central station are one of the most beautiful buildings in the world..It looks far more impressive that what I have seen in many European cities..

@Scorpiogenius
thanks a lot for dropping by.
Looking forward to that post from you..after going through your blog glad to know that are an ardent fan of the city..only wish our administration had similar passion and vision.
And always a pleasure to be blogrolled!:-)

@Jiby
Am sure you could write a more mature and practical post on the same…When we talk of an IT city I don’t want it to be a body shop IT market..it should be more like a mini California where real things happen…we have tits and bits of everything..colleges..reseach centers…IT companies..theatre..but nothing really world class…there are compromises which we would have to make ..but many cities have retained traditional charm like Hong Kong for example inspite of growing into a mega metropolis…

eager to read your post on the same.

Ajaypp said...

Dear Mathew,
Scorpio pointed out your blog and this post to me. I am very happy that some of my musings are having an effect on people like you. We need more people who think like us to appreciate our own city and to at least spend some time thinking about how to make it a better place. The diaspora of Trivandrum are scattered across the world, but ideas do filter in and some of them may even get implemented as time passes.

If the children of our beautiful city, you and me, don't think about her, who will...right? Thanks again for your insightful thoughts, Mathew. I hope you won't mind me adding your blog to my roll? Keep in touch and hope to see more about Trivandrum on your blog.

Cheers,
Ajay

SR said...

Good Post..Although I am not a TVMite,I like it more that Kochi, just because it still has that old town feel to it. Much more laid back that other capitals probably makes it more beautiful to me. Sometimes too much of modernisation lead to disasters but a metro and downtown culture is always welcome.

hope and love said...

very true.. iv been in this city from 1988..

Karthik said...

Good Post..But the labour problem is the unfortunate curse that plagues Trivandrum and other cities in Kerala and thus prevents any major industrial house setting a base here..

mathew said...

@Ajay
thanks for dropping by here.
It is indeed motivating to read your blog and I guess Atleast through blogs we can create awareness among trivandrumites or infact the Diaspora that our city has a lot potential.

Do check out Jiby’s blog which gives a very mature insight on the problems. It touches the core issues what most of our cities face.

And it is always privilege to get blog rolled at tvmrising.


@SR
thank you..
While I was staying in trivandrum , I used to envy kochites coz they had the port and marine drive…But from what I heard a good percentage of people from cochin like Trivandrum for its laid back feel and cheaper cost of living. Modernisation is possible by retaining traditions and I don’t either like to see a concrete jungle all around.

@Hope and love
And I have been in the city from 1986 till 2004…:-) SO pretty much my entire childhood…I miss those days though…

@ Karthik
Labour problems are signs of people being aware of their labour rights...But the curse is when Labour issues loses precedence over political and regional considerations...It hap-pened in western countries like France which faced similar labour blockades in late 80’s if my memory is right…But when they realized it was taking them nowhere, people realized the futility of it…It would be beneficial only if people realize that you get paid only if you work!!.. A good chunk of people out in our state want to get paid without doing any work at all!!

philip said...

Nice post. I agree with you on most of the points. Here's what I think are some important points -

1. Public transportation : This includes better and wider roads as well as transportation systems. Not sure though about the metro. Trivandrum is built on undulating land and metro is not suited to such a topography. We can go in for something like BRTS instead.

2. Better city planning : I think we should let the beautiful parts of old Tvm as it is (improving it, of course, but not tinkering with it too much) and focus on building up new areas with better planning.

3. More business : Like you said, the port and technopark will definitely bring in more money into the city.

eljo said...

Looks like a lot of TVM bloggers are getting nostalgic abt their city. If only the things which you guys have pointed out are in the minds of our govt. administrators, the growth for our cities and towns are exponential.

Mocha said...

It is strange that I am even commenting on this post. I am hard core Kochi fan who used to hate TVM a lot . My mom studied in Tvm and the onlycondition she had for finding grooms for her daughter was the guy shouldnt be from TVM. Acc to her the women from there were more shrewd , selfish. There is something about TVM I also didnt like.(half of my mom's family is there) People were more serious about life. Marriages were another occasion to boast. Hypocrisy was predominant. But the irony of fate I got married into TVM. 10's year have passed, I still tell my in laws EKM people are better than TVM. They took revenge on me 8 yrs ago showing me Mattu Patti Machan. They had a blast seeing me getting irritated at language. My in laws family are sweetest people in world so I always kid about how bad TVM people is. On my last visit, surprisng I liked TVM more. Two reasons1)There was lot less cars on road compared to kochi , so travelling was easier 2)Kochi was having the massive trash problem . Today I should say my adopted home TVM has same place in heart as EKM. I hope none of my inlaws or husband read this. For them it is Kochi Rules and ur points are going to included in the xt mock arguement I am going to have.

Mocha said...

It is strange that I am even commenting on this post. I am hard core Kochi fan who used to hate TVM a lot . My mom studied in Tvm and the onlycondition she had for finding grooms for her daughter was the guy shouldnt be from TVM. Acc to her the women from there were more shrewd , selfish. There is something about TVM I also didnt like.(half of my mom's family is there) People were more serious about life. Marriages were another occasion to boast. Hypocrisy was predominant. But the irony of fate I got married into TVM. 10's year have passed, I still tell my in laws EKM people are better than TVM. They took revenge on me 8 yrs ago showing me Mattu Patti Machan. They had a blast seeing me getting irritated at language. My in laws family are sweetest people in world so I always kid about how bad TVM people is. On my last visit, surprisng I liked TVM more. Two reasons1)There was lot less cars on road compared to kochi , so travelling was easier 2)Kochi was having the massive trash problem . Today I should say my adopted home TVM has same place in heart as EKM. I hope none of my inlaws or husband read this. For them it is Kochi Rules and ur points are going to included in the xt mock arguement I am going to have.

scorpiogenius said...

It all remains to be seen as to how Trivandrumites welcome the explosion of changes waiting to happen around them. Even the Corporation seems to have got no idea regarding the projects proposed to come up in the city and suburbs. Plaza Centres, a European infrastructure Company has acquired 11 acres near the Akkulam lakeside for their massive commercial development, but the Corporation authorities had no clue about it when journos asked about it.

And look at whats going on with the Space Institute..In any other state it would have been completed and running by now but here they are still searching for land..Same with Vizhinam and other projects.

What you said is right, Vizhinjam has been mentioned in blogs and net forums rather than in the authority's files.

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