Ya Right ! I Live In A Smart City



Guess what, I pay all my power bills on time and also clear my municipal, panchayat and professional taxes promptly.

Interestingly, this means sweet nothing in this city. From the road ( Veer Savarkar Marg, if you please ! ) that leads to my housing complex to the damn power that is supposed to be reaching my house, is non-existent or quite simply put, a nightmare!

Oh yes, we don’t have drainage either. I live in Pisoli, which is a good 6 kms from the Cantonment limits, I believe. That, ladies and gentleman, is considered out of bounds for a smart city. Very smart, indeed.

I was actually quite the spirited citizen and went about checking on who can get my road back to faintly resemble a motorable surface. From being told that No, this isn’t our jurisdiction ( read PMC ) to the panchayat who seemed quite amused at anyone who questioned the sagaAnd yes, the esteemed builders aren’t concerned since their properties are all lapped up by discerning citizens like yours truly.

So the next best thing for me to do was invest in a ‘Thar’ that doesn’t quite need a road to move on. So yes, I can leave and return home in one piece but almost every evening to a somber, dark alley with no lights. Thank god for inverters and people who believe a huge ecosystem of invertor manufacturers and battery makers must prosper.

We have lights at home, albeit only till the battery stays powered.

Now, if you have been carried away, let me remind you that this is Pune, the Smart City, soon to showcase a metro and in future maybe even the bullet train to ferry us out smartly.

All we need is a chopper to get to the station considering that the time taken to reach the station from ones home may be roughly equivalent to the bullet train running in the reverse direction.

But let me assure you, life is good in this city. Almost everything works. It is all in the mind.

After a few years in this city, partially working or almost working is as good as perfect.

A vada pav is a vada pav finally, no matter if it is from Garden or Joshi Vadewale. The Bhakarwadi is of course a different matter and this is where we draw a line. Chitale or nothing.

We Puneites are very clear with our preferences. Protest marches, Irani chai and supporting NGOs, are all pretty much part of our daily lives. Crib we must and yet we will do nothing to remedy it. Protest we will and with a lot of vehemence and the characteristic Puneri élan…

I tried this protest business too. It’s quite interesting especially when it comes to the MSEB and inflated power bills. Different matter that your invertor is used more than their power!

Hit by a series of whopper bills I lodged several complaints online, was immediately given confirmations and reference numbers. Text messages also follow (wonders will never cease! ) showing you who this has been allotted too. Months later nothing happens and then you are told that online this complaint doesn’t work. You need to meet the authorities.

Well, this time I was relentless and had all details sent there 7 times, 4 offices and hours later, sweet nothing happened. Different matter that I even had an ex-colleague take this up with people there to move matters. But then this is a smart city, so you need to live with such things.

But yes, we will soon have a metro. I wonder what it will run on, though !

Cant be power or even if it is, its probably wonderful citizens who are going to be paying for it, in their home bills probably.

I gave up the fight. Neither do I have the time, nor the inclination. I now treat the excess I pay as a non-voluntary contribution to the whole eco-system of inefficiencies and indifference the city offers me on a platter.

But all the same, we are a Smart City.  It’s just us citizens who are unable to adapt to the smartness. It’s all in the mind after all!

Jaisurya Das

Jaisurya Das

The industry affectionately calls him a Marketing Maverick; Known to be brutally candid with his writing as much as everything else, Jd is a much respected media and brand commentator whose prolific writing sees no boundaries.

Jd also consults in Consumer Neuroscience and Neuromarketing, both of which are integral to his brand interventions.
Jaisurya Das