The City Beautiful
Long before the current spurt in urbanisation in India, there was a systematic effort, perhaps the only one in modern India, to build a city from a scratch - Chandigarh. Chandigarh, the city which is home to two state governments and belongs to neither of them. As you land on its military airbase cum commercial airport you can see a huge tree cover interspersed with neat rows of buildings. The high rises are restricted to the newer outer parts of the city, other wise the buildings are conspicuously only 2 storeys high. On exiting the airport there are wide roads and if you are coming from Mumbai they seem vast and uncluttered. On the six lane roads there are cars, bikes and cyclists. The latter somehow look incongruous on the roads. The roads are lined with eucalypti and acacia trees and its difficult to find the names of the roadside shops and buildings. In fact, they are hardly seen being well camouflaged behind the tree cover.
Coming from Mumbai, Chandigarh looks stunningly empty. The first thing on the outdoors one notices is the remarkable lack of public transport. There are big cars on the road and the driving is quite rash.The city is a disappointment for the pedestrian. There is hardly any architecture visible from the wide footpaths. The buildings are rarely more than two storeys high and sport a monotonous red brick livery. After a while the outdoors look soulless and monosyllabic with predictable and neat congruency. For an outsider, its difficult to discriminate between the spartan and clean geometrically laid out sectors. The treasures of each sector are well hidden and are difficult to "stumble upon" during a casual walk. But the air is cool, the footpath comfortable and sometimes its better to reflect inwards rather than seek outwards. May be that is what Chandigarh was meant to be.