Every morning I wake up to the rains. It is green outside my patio doors and beyond that are high rise apartment buildings in every direction but one. Builders are working hard and quick to rectify that lapse. Pune is green. Beneath, beside and under all the upcoming high rise buildings are patches and sometimes stretches of greenery. This is what differentiates this city from other Indian towns. As a hub for Information Technology, it has money, as is visible in the cars on the road, the numerous malls and the ubiquitous high rise apartments with names such as Galaxy and Paradise. People I have met are more laid back, and life is comfortable here due to the availability of jobs, the gentle weather and a landscape that is flecked by hills, lakes and open spaces- still.
As I have written previously in other pieces, author Amit Chaudhuri, my writing instructor at the UEA workshop has started a campaign to preserve the fading architecture of Kolkata. The architectural history of a city being replaced by the monotony of modern high rises. If you have not signed the petition, please consider doing so, for the sake of beauty, if not for the unique nature of a time in Kolkata as recorded and witnessed by the architecture under seige- www.avaaz.org/
In the month that we have been in India, I have been watching his movement gather momentum. At the very least what it is doing is waking us up to the onslaught of all that is cement and concrete, banal and uniform- a modernity that around the country is gradually edging out India’s beautiful. The heritage of architecture- a metaphor. As I look around me at Pune, at the possibilities of beauty, its natural landscape, alive but gradually getting buried under blocks of cement, I think of Amit Chaudhuri because I wonder whether the city of Pune will need a writer with the zeal of an environmentalist to save it.