Tuesday, October 25, 2005


We often take our freedom of expression (speech) and movement in the city for granted, almost to an extent that we do not even realize that of lately YOU are allowed only in your house (have you ever been interrogated by your own society’s security guard?) and your workspace where you are allowed only because of your identity card (a piece of paper with your photograph and position in the labour pyramid authenticated by the royal seal and signature of the capitalist landlord of the place)…oh! And I forgot completely the circulation corridors between your house and workspace.
Here is something you can do:

Choose a part of a development plan it could be any place your locality, your in-laws house or the area where you got bitten by stray dogs…. any area.

1) Find out all the places like top-secret government building-like things (places that your locality is sometimes known by but no one has seen those places or even knows what they do). By government buildings I mean places of high security like water treatment plant, sewage treatment plant, nuclear plant etc. Now colour these places black because these will be places you will never see in your life except for a glimpse on the horizon (unless your preprimary school decided to take you to one such place or you successfully convinced the government officials that you wouldn’t blow it).

2) Now that lets say 15 percent of your plan is painted black, lets find out all the private properties in your area, all those having the board “trespassers will be prosecuted” or better still “beware of dogs”…now now don’t think this to be a capitalist invasion some people have more money, they too pay fair taxes and can still afford to own humongous pieces of land in your vicinity of course you wont be allowed there.

3) Now that 15 + 35 = 50 percent of land is coloured black, places where legally you wont be allowed lets us find places where you cant go (either because your economic status does not qualify you as an elite or because you have moral problems with capitalist, multinational corporate giants controlling the world; both of which are serious issues). If you are sensitive enough you have guessed it right (if not you are still sucking on that soft drink as you read this) I am talking about all the pubs, “joints”, international five star hotels, all the coffee shops selling exotic herbal coffee with extra froth (and a waiter who does a tap dance for your entertainment). Please colour these places black. For making sense of this point please colour them black for now though you might be rich enough to own all these places and might have traveled the world, and you eat in French restaurants and bathe with mineral water. So now 50 + 15 = 65 is the number.

4) Now comes a new genre of buildings these are huge candy coloured residential skyscrapers with historical motifs on the elevation and water tanks so elaborately done that it seems as if the architect decided to “design” when the building was over and water tank construction started. Anyways these are the new co-operative societies that employ highly qualified security personnel. You can’t pass through no matter what. I have heard even the maidservants are provided identity cards. No this place isn’t for you “security reasons”! These are spaces, which suffer from compulsory obsessive security syndrome well equipped with security personnel, security alarms, security intercoms, security burglar system etc.

5) Now that you, I assume have coloured more than 90 percent of the plan black you will realize that there are very few places within the city which are truly public, places open for all, places which people from all sections of the society will visit. Just to make you feel a little bit more sad about your existence here I dare to sadistically point out that these days even the roads are places where your presence is marginalized or completely ignored, there are very few places which have footpaths so assuming you don’t own a car please colour the roads where your pedestrian existence is insulted as black; but out of sheer sympathy for your sorry state I give you the liberty to colour it in a lighter shade (greyish-pink if that shade exists).