HOWTO: Bicycle Commute in Bangalore

Riding a bicycle in Bangalore is surprisingly easy. Bicycles are nimble and the traffic is slow. The roads are... good enough. The weather is perfect. The pollution is an issue but not riding a bicycle only exacerbates that situation. Here are my recommendations for making riding a bike in Bangalore something between tolerable and enjoyable.

Required #1: Good Brakes

Traffic in Bangalore isn't just slow -- it's choppy. Millions of people driving cars on roads that can't support them mean traffic is as stop-and-go as a choked suburban freeway parking lot in America. Be prepared to brake. A lot. At best it will waste a lot of energy but at worst, you can get into a serious accident because sometimes you will need to stop quickly at the bottom of a hill.

Get two brakes, even if you ride a fixie. Keep the rubber fresh and keep the cables tight.

Required #2: Helmet

Surprisingly, a helmet comes in at #2. It will save you if you ever have a crash but brakes ensure you won't crash. Traffic in Bangalore is shockingly attentive. In 3 years of riding here I have never once felt at risk of a collision that wasn't my fault (because I had cheap brakes). This obviously isn't universally true, but make sure you're not hitting the ground before you worry about what will happen if you do.

Keep a beanie or hat under your helmet so you can wash it. You will sweat sometimes, especially in the summer.

Required #3: Lights

Believe it or not, we are still in non-negotiable territory. Lights are for your own safety and the safety of pedestrians. Even if you don't plan to ride at night, you will. Someone will convince you to stay for just one more chai and the next thing you know, it's dark out.

Only buy USB-rechargeable lights.
Only buy ridiculously bright lights.
Only buy rubber lights.

Invest money here. The USB recharging means you're never stuck running out for batteries and you can charge them with your phone at home/work. Many streets in Bangalore are poorly-lit; a bright front light will save you from crashing in potholes. I've had lights stolen... even by children who just think they're neat. Rubber lights mean you can take them off at every stop. You probably need to order from Amazon (local bike shops still don't carry decent lights for some reason) but it's worth it.

Pictured are the Serfas Thunderbolt USB Taillight (Rs. 2200) and the Light and Motion Urban 800FC Headlight (Rs. 8400). I couldn't be happier with either of these. The Light and Motion Urban 500 (Rs. 4800) would also work at about half the price, but 500 lumens is about as low as I'd recommend.

Required #4: Noise Pollution Cancellation

About 25% of drivers have no idea what the hell they are doing and just honk their way through the entire street. If you've spent much time commuting by motorcycle, you might be accustomed to this. I am not. My road noise interpretation was baked into my brain growing up in Southwest Saskatchewan. A loud-ass "HOOOONNNNKKKK!!!!" still means "Danger! Risk of Death!" so I impulsively turn my head to see. Any experience two-wheel rider knows that jerking your head around means jerking your vehicle around. At high speeds, this isn't safe.

So, in the interest of safety (oddly enough), I always ride with headphones. I never turn them all the way up -- a minimal amount of road noise is valuable, since some honks (from large trucks and buses, in particular) actually do mean "Danger! Risk of Death!" and not just "Get the fuck out of my way, bicycle man." Sometimes I even just ride with them in and no music on; they dampen the noise pollution and provide a believable excuse for not responding to angry motorists obnoxious horn usage.

Every time I ignore a horn, I like to believe I've contributed one input worth of behavioural training toward a single Bangalore motorist that their horn is utterly ineffective toward cyclists. Like puppies learning not to shit in the house, enough bicycles on the road might eventually train them all that horns are completely unnecessary outside of emergencies.

Handy #1: Gas Mask

This is a more recent addition to my kit, but I'm increasingly convinced it's worth it. This one isn't about immediate safety so much as it's about long-term health. It's uncomfortable, but it beats breathing a lungful of carcinogenic smoke from a garbage fire. Segregate your garbage, Bangalore. It's (finally) the law.

I like to imagine that every time someone sees me wearing a gas mask they feel instant shame for not segregating their garbage. I know this isn't true at all but it's a little more encouragement to keep this weird wetsuit rubber thing smooshed onto my face.

Handy #2:  Portable Lock

This isn't about your safety at all. Even if you think you'll never park your bike anywhere but your house or your workplace, always keep a good lock with you. We had a bicycle stolen outside a popular brunch place -- busy streets don't deter thieves. Whatever lock you buy, make sure you can always carry it with you. It should fit in your bag, around your waist, or on the bicycle frame.

Handy #3: Kevlar Tires

Bangalore's roads aren't the worst I've ridden. Some streets in Chicago were actually much worse, where the city had decided to rip up a full mile of asphalt in anticipation of repairing it... eventually. They're bad enough that you will suffer flats, though. Unless! Unless you get kevlar.

The best option are kevlar-lined tires like Continental Gatorskins or  Specialized Armadillos. I rode one one of each for all of 2015 with zero flats. High-quality tires also endure higher pressure, which helps prevent pinch flats for those times you do hit a pothole or a sharp speed breaker.

If you can't find pre-lined tires, most shops in the city now carry tire liners. If you want to be truly paranoid, you can even line kevlar tires with... more kevlar. 

Handy #4: Full Fenders

Monsoon shouldn't be an excuse for switching back to commuting in a car but drainage in Bangalore isn't ideal, so you'll need to protect yourself. Install the closest-fitting permanent fenders you can get for your bike.

Handy #5: Fixies

Fixed-gear bicycles are usually the choice of trendy kids who are looking for a difficult ride. Truthfully, if you plan on going fast, they might not be your best option. Particularly going downhill they can be quite dangerous. That said, Bangalore traffic is slow. as. hell. You will be the fastest thing on the road 90% of the time because you will rarely (if ever) reach top speed. A fixie affords you some really nice control at traffic signals and unplanned traffic jams when some doofus decides his Volkswagen's U-turn is more important than the flow of traffic for dozens of vehicles.

I still can't track stand properly but a fixie still lets me control the bicycle at very low speeds with a lot of precision. As often as I'm left waiting for lumbering cars and SUVs to waddle around each other, I'll never commute on anything else.

Do not rely on your ability to pedal brake. "Required #1: Good Brakes" still applies to fixies. Get good brakes. Two of them. Even if you're an expert fixie rider, you never know who might end up borrowing your bike.

Bonus: A Badass Office

Your office should support your cycling habit. Harass your boss. Better yet, work at an employee-owned company like nilenso to make your own rules.

Small, growing companies in Bangalore (such as Uncommon and HasGeek) are often already pro-bicycle since they have the good sense to listen to their employees even if they aren't employee-owned.

Your office should have:
  • parking
  • pump (presta and schrader)
  • showers
  • bicycle tools
  • spare tubes
  • lube

...and maybe a bicycle work mount and bicycle trainers... if they're extra-friendly. Forgive the bubblegum pink garage... we're not sure how that happened.

I hope this helps someone get on the road. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to shout at me on twitter (@deobald) or leave a comment.


Original post by Steven Deobald - check out Hungry, horny, sleepy, curious.

How do Vipassana centres in India differ?

A friend of mine recently asked for some advice on which Vipassana centre I would recommend for his first course, if he tries it during a visit to India. My explanations ended up being rather verbose, so I figured it wouldn't hurt to publicize them. If you are considering taking a Vipassana course in India, I hope this information is helpful to you!

My response:

Crazytown! Ha ha! That's awesome. Here's the rundown of the places I've tried so far:

Bangalore (Dhamma Paphulla): I did a 3-day course here, and it was okay. The 3-day course is available to anyone who has taken the 10-day introductory course. It was much less intense but I found it really valuable since my first 10-day kind of freaked me out. :P They don't have a pagoda (no meditation cells so you're always in the main hall). At the time they didn't have individual residences so you couldn't meditate there, either. They have a few now. It's directly adjacent to a village so there is sometimes more noise than one would like. There aren't a lot of trees and there aren't really any animals (cute animals provide welcome distraction on the hardest days). The paths are dirt... and sometimes mud. With all of that said, I think I find the teacher at the Bangalore centre (he lives nearby) to be one of the more approachable. The fellow who donated the farmland to create the centre is also a wonderful human being; he helped repair a flat on my mountain bike after the 3-day course then invited me to his house for tea. The centre is, of course, pretty convenient. It's about a Rs.500 Uber ride to get there and if you can't get an Uber/Ola on the way back, there's always rickshaws and buses. The metro almost reaches the village but isn't operational at the major junction points yet.

Dharamkot/Dharamshala (Dhamma Sikhara): I did my first 10-day course here. Dharamkot is a little village above McLeod Ganj, which is above Dharamshala. The space is wonderful. Weirdly, the centre is built right in the middle of a pine forest the British planted, so the whole place smells like the Canadian Rockies. The village doesn't add much noise -- the monkeys running across the tin roofs are the only intrusive sound. The centre is small and can't grow (despite receiving quite a lot of money in donations, I imagine, due to all the foreign tourists who take courses here) because there is a Tibetan meditation centre to the west and the village to the east. Hence, it has no pagoda and never will, but it does have individual residences for most meditators (shared bathrooms / showers, though) that you can meditate in when the teacher gives you the option. It was nice and cold, which meant no sweaty meditations and no mosquitoes. There are stone paths everywhere. Most of the course was attended by foreigners, which I'm guessing is generally the case because of the centre's proximity to the touristy land of McLeod Ganj. The teacher was some professor (or something) from Delhi. Sometimes he was really helpful and sometimes he felt almost dismissive but I don't think I would have made it through the course without my daily conversations with him.

Jaipur (Dhamma Thali):  I did my second 10-day here over last Christmas / New Years. This space is beautiful, if somewhat plain (it's in the desert, after all). There were langurs and peacocks and huge flocks of smaller birds. It was cool but not uncomfortably cold, which meant I avoided mosquitoes for one more year. ;) The centre is older and has stone footpaths between the residences, pagoda, and meditation hall(s) -- avoiding dust and mud made a surprising difference in my overall comfort, as I found out this year. It's a huge centre, which means the experience is more intense and the course grounds are busier. There wasn't much space to walk without seeing other dudes (or at least their feet, which meant adjusting my walking path mid-stream... this is surprisingly disrupting). The meditation hall is almost entirely underground, so it's quiet, huge, cold, and dark. That made the meditation more intense but also made the whole experience a lot creepier. The pagoda has very little light entering it so the meditations in the cells were even *more* intense. The courses in Jaipur are primarily conducted in Hindi -- there were only a handful of foreigners and the teacher was much more comfortable in Hindi than English, so I'm very glad this wasn't my first course. Despite its size, the Jaipur centre is kind of run down. The meditation hall, pagoda, mini-halls, and cafeteria are well taken care of but the residences leave something to be desired. However, most of the residences here are individual: you might have your own toilet and shower. Because this is a larger centre, some of the volunteers are Very Serious Meditators(TM), which means they can come off as kind of culty or creepy. FWIW, none of the 5 teachers I've met have given me this vibe.

Nagarjuna Sagar Dam (Dhamma Nagajjuna): I did my third 10-day course here this year and I would say this was my least-favourite centre. The government has allotted some 250 acres to Buddhist ...stuff... and the centre is on a 35 acre portion of this land. It's huge and kind of barren. The paths are dirt, which means you'll spend a lot of time knocking dust and sand out of your feet before entering the pagoda and meditation hall. The meditation hall is quite small and they fill it to capacity. So for tall people like you and I the knees-near-neighbours situation is rather uncomfortable. There is a pagoda, which is good. New students are allotted cells on the 6th day, I believe. However, the pagoda isn't shaded and the meditation cells can be surprisingly bright inside which sometimes makes meditation difficult. I was under regular assault from mosquitoes. Given a meditation technique that's all about "remaining equanimous with whatever bodily sensation is happening in the present moment", I don't think my beginner-grade equanimity is ready for 2 full meditation periods (dawn and dusk) of constant mosquito bites just yet. The meditation instructions on the 10-day course are already quite verbose and in Telangana (Andhra Pradesh) the instructions come in English, Hindi, and Telugu. The meditation centre is far removed from any city or village so it's extremely quiet save for some distant highway noise. It's right beside Nagarjuna Sagar, and there was apparently a beautiful spot where everyone would go to watch the sunset over the lake. I met a fellow on the 10th day who exclaimed, "I saw you weren't coming to see the sunsets! I wanted to tell you so badly to come and watch them... but I couldn't talk!" Quite cute. It's possible a better view of the lake might have made the course experience a bit more enjoyable so I might be underselling the centre in this blurb. The buildings are very pretty and the architecture has a lot more character than other centres -- you can see some photos on their website. Oddly, the cafeteria has allotted seating and utensils. Most of the cafeteria seating is on the ground... just in case 10 hours a day of cross-legged sitting wasn't enough. Despite having both a meditation hall(s) and a pagoda, the centre can only host about 40 men and 40 women. There was a lot of construction under way, though. The teacher seemed very approachable and though I didn't speak to him much, a Dutch girl we met after the course said he was very helpful. She spoke to the male teacher because this course had no female teacher, for some reason. Prior to this, I wasn't even aware that was allowed. After the course, we stayed in a nearly-empty hotel near the Dam... but the entire area feels like some sort of abandoned moon colony and I don't recommend sticking around for long. Most of the students on the course came from Hyderabad, which is a 2 or 3 hour drive. My one biggest issue with the centre was the administration's insistence on the "sacred" nature of the cushions. Leaving aside the introduction of religious or near-religious concepts into an otherwise largely secular practice, one of the administrators actually ruffled my cushion and told me to take my feet off of it because he didn't like the position I was sitting in. This sounds trivial, but this happened on the fourth day after a particularly painful and difficult meditation so the attention was particularly unwelcome. Between the sunlit meditation cells, the mosquitoes, and being spoken to by a staff member, this was the least intense 10-day course of the 3 I've attended. It felt like I was constantly distracted by something.

I'm not sure if that helps you pick or not. :) The most interesting / intense / terrifying / valuable course I've taken so far was definitely in Jaipur, but it's hard to say how much of that was due to the environment and how much was due to my mental state. If I had my first course to do all over again, I would probably still do it in Himachal Pradesh.

The Himachal centre is closed from December to March (it gets quite cold) so that won't be an option this Feburary. No matter which centre you pick, you should pick and apply sooner than later. Sometimes it takes them a couple weeks to respond to an application, which can make travel planning difficult.

Good luck!
Original post by Steven Deobald - check out Hungry, horny, sleepy, curious.

Bangalore 2030

"Why do you live in Bangalore?"

This past week, nilenso interviewed a German fellow for a software development position. As part of the routine of meeting a new stranger in this city, a variation of "Why do you live in Bangalore?" passed between us. My answer to this question is complex and usually varies based on the tone and implied subtext with which the question is asked. My immediate reasons are somewhat boring. My job is here and I like my job. My friends are here and I like my friends. The weather is pleasant.

Beyond that, however, I have wanted to capture my answer to this question in a way that could be conveyed clearly, immediately, convincingly. The complexity of the answer derives from the juxtaposition of Bangalore's past 15 years of growth against her next 15 years. I am quite convinced that anyone who knows Bangalore today only needs to think creatively about the latter half, since they are intimately familiar with the former. Hence, I plan to commission artwork (as I am no artist) which captures Bangalore's upcoming progress. This document is an open description which I intend to use for this purpose: Anticipate Bangalore 2030 and provoke both conversation and action.

Just Suppose We Juxtapose

Every feature of this commissioned artwork falls into one of two categories: The first is a quality native Bangaloreans say the city is losing or has already lost. The second is a feature which many established cities actually lack but are retrofitting onto legacy architecture and infrastructure. Features lacking in most major metropolises can be contrasted to Bangalore's present state not only to highlight where the city is going but to emphasize how Bangalore might leapfrog the models of other cities in 2015 to push toward a more effective society based, at least in part, on the pressure caused by its failing infrastructure.

Both forms of duality will become clearer by way of example, but this point cannot be stressed enough: Backpressure is a good thing. Bangalore is positioned to lead by quiet example in a very short period of time, given a concentrated effort. By way of counterexample, Chicago (the last city I lived in) has no garbage crisis. It's unlikely it ever will. Without backpressure from the system of waste disposal reaching the citizens, it will be decades (perhaps a generation) before Chicago sees a distinct shift in behaviour within every household.

Why Bangalore?

Bangalore is in a position few other cities are in at the moment. It is changing quickly. Very quickly. It is in a small flux from week to week alone and it undergoes drastic changes every few months. If I visit my family and Canada and return a month later, entire streets are sometimes unrecognizable. Some of this change is moving in the opposite direction this document proposes as the city becomes increasingly industrialized, commercialized, and modern. However, much of that change is absolutely necessary if we are to envision Bangalore as a New World City. Its metro population is that of New York and London; by 2030 it will have outstripped them. Its new workforce is largely post-industrial technology firms and supporting industries. It's not hard to imagine Bangalore as a city of the future.

Bangalore is also a cheat. The weather here supports year-round bicycling and yet much of the flora remains tropical. Choosing Bangalore when fantasizing about cities of the future circumvents a multitude of problems. The ground does not freeze. It is far from the ocean and does not suffer many natural disasters. It seems likely that many of Bangalore's immigrating technology workers choose it for this very reason, though, which in some ways validates choosing it for this thought experiment.

Lastly, Bangalore supports an array of cultures and (so far) does so in a way that they do not seem to melt together. New York is metropolitan but it doesn't always feel that way. Londoners feel like Londoners. Bangalore's masjids, bars, temples, restaurants, churches, mansions, slums, government offices, parks... they are a bizarre blend of activity that I have yet to experience in any other city. If infrastructural and behavioural change can work in Bangalore, it can work anywhere.

Our Juxtapositions

1. The traffic: Bangalore's traffic is a mess. Once a sleepy city full of retirees, old streets are now packed with trucks, buses, single-occupant cars, 2-wheelers, bicycles... and even the odd bullock cart. No one enjoys driving in Bangalore and even getting around as a passenger can feel stressful. Because the arteries of the city are clogged with every shape and size of vehicle, drivers get frustrated and address each other with incessant honking. Air and noise pollution choke the streets. A Bangalore commute often feels like traveling on a fantastic version of Mulberry Street.

The Metro: The Namma Metro is nearer and nearer to completion every day. Some of my friends already use it for a portion of their commute, despite the fact that the entire length of the metro's journey is walkable at the moment. The project seems forever-delayed, but a vision of Bangalore 2030 features the metro as its centrepiece. As long as the memory of Bangalore's traffic in 2015 is fresh in everyone's minds, there should be no shortage of public support to continue expanding the metro to new neighbourhoods. Electric feeder buses don't exist in Bangalore now, but are not hard to imagine as a staple form of transportation by 2030.

Bicycles: Copenhagen and Amsterdam were not always the cyclist's paradises they are perceived to be now. In many cities, the convenience of the car easily trumps the desire for most to choose a bicycle, even for those convinced of the environmental, health, and resource benefits. That line of thinking is hard to follow in Bangalore, though. At the moment, it's often faster to get across the city by bicycle than it is by car, simply due to agility. Bangalore is infinitely bicycle-able: The traffic is safe, due to its slowness. The weather is perfect 10 months of the year. The roads could be better, but they are constantly improving. There are very few gradients.

Bangalore has seen a small surge in its bicycle interest among the middle class. Shops like BumsOnTheSaddle, The Specialized Store, Crankmeister, and ProCycle have popped up in recent years. A bicycle culture can't be subsidized by the government and won't materialize apropos of nothing. But the sooner Bangalore's bicycle renaissance occurs, the sooner it will snowball into dedicated bicycle infrastructure whenever a new road is paved.

Fragile, Indian-made bicycles and/or those with century-old designs (Hero, Atlas) still comprise the entirety of the bicycle market for Bangalore's lower economic classes. These still fall in the Rs. 5000 to Rs. 10,000 price range... which isn't actually that affordable. Simple, reliable, single-speed steel-frame bicycles could be produced in India at that price.

Electric, Automated Taxis & Rickshaws: Though not as revolutionary as clean public transportation or a confluence of Bangalore's two bicycle cultures into the middle classes, electric and autonomous vehicles do seem the most cartoonishly futuristic. They're not. Self-driving cars are on the streets in the US and Europe. Fully-electric cars have been a reality in India for 20 years and it's not hard to imagine that within a few years the Revas and E2Os will keep the company of Bangalore's first Teslas. With the advent of just-in-time taxi services, the future of roads in any city (not only Bangalore) is obvious. Fully electric cabs can already be seen on Bangalore streets. On the streets where cars are still permitted in the Bangalore of 2030, it seems likely that many cars will carry 4 or 5 passengers but no driver. Rickshaws inhabit a different slice of the economy and may still have human operators in 2030 but the polluting two-stroke engines of today will be seen as legacy. Electric rickshaws and electric bicycle rickshaws are already common in Delhi.

While an electric, autonomous vehicle is unlikely to generate much noise pollution, I can't help but imagine that as awareness of the damage noise pollution does (to humans and animals both) goes up, clear "NO HONKING" signs will become the norm.

WFH. The late-90s dream of telecommuting has panned out differently for everyone who dreamt it. Some of us can't focus at home. Some jobs still require interacting with the physical world. But for many (including about half the nilenso office) remote and distributed are the new default. I can't actually envision how one would capture this in an art piece about Bangalore 2030, but it's a reality, all the same.

2. The Garbage Crisis: Thankfully, the citizens of Bangalore's surrounding villages have started to fight back against the dumping of garbage in their homes. The backpressure of their resistance causes Bangalore's streets to fill with Garbage. This is fantastic.

It might seem odd to think of Bangalore's garbage crisis as a good thing, but if the infrastructure existed to truck the trash of 8.5 million people far enough away from the city that no one needed to think about it... then no one would think about it. As it stands, the truth of our waste is in our faces. Every day, on every street.

Compost: The more I think about compost, the more confused I am about the fact that it isn't the default option for wet waste in every city of the world. But within Bangalore, it is obviously the right choice, since it is the only option the government currently supports. Wet waste, disposed every day, goes to a city-wide composting facility as long as it is not stored in a plastic bag. More adventurous citizens can compost easily at home.

"Dry Waste": Garbage workers pick up "dry waste" (recyclables) twice a week. Thanks to a massive labour force, Bangalore's recyclable waste is actually sorted at recycling centres... even though this should be the responsibility of every citizen. Composting and recycling is the government-requested (and desperately needed) default in 2015. In addition to basic waste segregation, it's not unlikely that "NO FIRES" signs will become commonplace as lighting roadside garbage fires becomes illegal.

Recycling: True recycling in 2030 will mean recyclables are separated at the source. Every home will wash and segregate plastic, metal, and glass from e-waste, paper, and cloth. The best implementation of this system I have ever seen was in Tokyo, where our AirBNB instructions explained that plastics were to be sorted into three categories before providing them for pickup. As long as there is a garbage crisis, there is the perfect opportunity to teach the public about proper recycling in a tangible way that directly affects their personal comfort.

3. Power Cuts: Bangalore experiences common power cuts. Some are very intentional and continue year-round. Others are based on a lack of water in the dams which feed Bangalore's primarily hydro electricity supply. For a city with a growing economy, this has meant diesel generators for large businesses and battery backups for SMBs like nilenso. Running tiny power plants in every major business contributes to Bangalore's asthma-inducing air pollution.

Solar and battery: Thanks to the emergence of lithium-ion batteries, the batteries of 2015 should quickly become relics. Currently, nilenso operates on some rather hideous batteries which require us to fill them with water periodically. They occasionally spill acid on the floor. They're huge. But the fact is: They exist. Out of necessity, businesses and homes in Bangalore already have the kind of battery backup Tesla intends to sell to every American. Whether Bangalore becomes the biggest Tesla Powerwall customer by 2030 or not, some form of lithium battery will overtake the existing market. Solar panels are increasingly affordable and not only offer freedom from the grid during power cuts but would provide homes and businesses with resilient, distributed electricity during floods or other disasters (as Chennai is currently experiencing). A Bangalore of 2030 has a cityscape of buildings blanketed in solar panels.

4. The Mud of the Monsoon: While we're on the topic of floods, we can address Bangalore's annual battle with the monsoon. The slightest rain seems to bring the city to a halt. Streets are somehow instantly clogged with both water and traffic and the power goes out in most neighbourhoods. The latter would be taken care of by building-independent power sources. The former, by proper infrastructure.

As of today, sanitary sewage and storm water are both dealt with using semi-covered and uncovered "drains". When a street floods, the sanitary sewers are overburdened and waste water (including human faeces) is ejected into the street, endangering citizens' health.

Storm sewers: Bangalore needs a massive storm sewer system, akin to the Ninja Turtles' portrayal of the storm sewers in New York: Underground, walkable for maintenance, and completely separate from sanitary sewers. Bangalore gets plenty of rain. Rather than the present nuisance, it could wash a dusty city clean, restock water tables, and irrigate nearby farmland.

Sanitary sewers: New sanitary sewers between now and 2030 need to be built underground and completely covered. Disposal will be to a proper waste water treatment plant or  preferably — to a more future-focused human waste composting plant. An image of separate storm and sanitary sewers is easy enough to imagine, though the specifics of where they go afterward is a bit more difficult to portray in a painting.

[Edit] Public toilets: I failed to include this originally, because for some reason it felt like an ephemeral change the city will implement and overcome. I was wrong. After a recent trip to Hyderabad, I was amazed to see the heavy usage of public toilets on most major streets. This is fantastic for a number of reasons. A government-installed public toilet is a perfect opportunity to dig an underground sewer where one might not yet exist. It's also an opportunity to raise awareness about where the local sewage is draining -- and where it should drain. I also traveled to Vancouver recently and was pleasantly surprised to find public toilets available in every park, where children and the elderly were making regular use of them. Public toilets are neither ephemeral, nor something we need to "overcome". In fact, I'm increasingly of the opinion that "developed" nations have far fewer public toilets than are actually required.

5. The Useless "Army Area": India, thankfully, is not a terribly violent nation. Bangalore has little use for the army any longer and it seems quite bizarre to use valuable inner-city land for military training exercises. Yet a substantial portion of the city can be seen on Google Maps as large, blank and grey: labelled "Army Area". The cadets can be seen early in the morning... running around in uniform or calling out strokes in a rowboat on Ulsoor lake. They seem... bored.

Disaster Relief: Never mind the army of 2030, the army (and navy, and airforce, and whatever other antiquated units of government you can think of) of today should serve one purpose: global safety and security. At a minimum, the military and military resources, such as land, could slowly be funnelled into government departments of greater utility, such as DART, serving all of India, at a bare minimum — and hopefully its neighbours. I'm sure there is debate to be had as to whether starvation and poor health of one's own citizens is a "disaster." Some of us might choose stronger words. But as long as I'm fantasizing, a Bangalore of 2030 would welcome its least fortunate citizens into refurbished Army Areas to serve simple meals and provide basic healthcare services.

6: Lost: Some Trees: Bangalore's old tagline of "The Garden City" is less appropriate with each new building constructed. Parks remain, but Koramangala is unlikely to be returned to the earth within our lifetime. Those who knew the old Bangalore speak words of regret. Those who see infographics describing urban density wonder what can be done (other than the childish suggestion that immigrants should stop coming here).

Aggressive Reforestation: Inside and outside of Bangalore, an appreciation and understanding of the necessity of plant life is coming. (For some, it's already here.) Augmenting the desire to maximize land usage, homes will one day be built smaller with space for trees and gardens. Rooftop gardens will fill the space not occupied by solar panels. Government-mandated green spaces in every neighbourhood will maintain some semblance of balance and reverse Bangalore's transformation into an urban heat island. Self-awareness of one's space consumption is unlikely to derive from the longing for parks; this change will require education and perseverance.

7. Lost: Some Religion: My generation is not violent and drug-addled due to its dearth of spirituality. A sagging of religious participation will not degrade our cities into dystopian hellholes. It has, however, lost some of the values and guidance religion provided our grandparents. Generosity is no longer to open one's home to any who need it but to donate a tax-refundable amount to a charity of one's liking. Forgiveness has lost a universal quality and favours a polar described by media on all scales, each running an attention deficit. Time my grandmothers dedicated to community and silence my peers dedicate to music and alcohol.

Space for Silence: Meditation, prayer, uninterrupted contemplation. These wildly different activities all carry the same characteristic: absolute silence. There are few spaces these days for anyone of any background to simply escape the din of Bangalore's public space. Universally-accessible quiet spaces do not exist yet, which makes them in some ways more fantastic and futuristic than self-driving, all-electric robot cars. Despite this, I think Bangalore is capable of constructing a building where conversation and mobile phones are not permitted. 2030 will see some such space (even if I have to build it myself) but it is hard to say how common they will be.

Space for Generosity: The recent outpouring of support from the general public for those in need of help in the Chennai floods is proof that the average citizen wants to help and will do so when required. I often wonder how to make this a daily or weekly practice for myself, rather than one I hold for unpredictable catastrophe.

In 2030, Bangalore's neediest will find space to sleep and poop — and simple meals to eat — without this assistance attached to any particular belief system. Nearest to this are the meals provided in Gurudwaras, but in time I expect to see spaces emerge for all of us who feel our free time could be spent more meaningfully.

8. Wealth Gap & Limited Resources: Bangalore is not yet a rich city. It may never be one of the wealthiest cities on Earth. The wealth gap is widening and for many people (and many industries), resources will remain scarce. This is a wonderful constraint, thanks to its realism.

Focus on necessity: Bangalore is full of clinics, hospitals, and schools. Markets for the most necessary items are walking distance from any home and India is unlikely to form food deserts like the U.S. suffers from. A continued focus on absolute necessity for all income levels will ensure that as the Bangalore of 2030 starts to look like Olympus from Appleseed, one can still buy sitaphal from a wooden cart on the side of the road while it's in season.

As Bangalore's citizens' access to personal transportation increases, clinics and hospitals risk suffering the centralization which has occurred in rural Canada. I don't yet see this happening and I hope it does not. A healthy Bangalore of 2030 still has walking-distance health clinics in almost every neighbourhood.

Schools are another matter. It is possible that progress in remote learning will mean "homeschooling" can take on a different definition, schools may be more about physical space than about colocation of teachers and students, and the trucking of children from one end of the city to the other will become a goofy story about industrial-age lifestyles for the next generation to laugh at.

Tiny houses: While hinting at my hippie granola upbringings and preferences, limited resources should push more and more people back toward sensible living accommodations — even the rich. Bangalore draws its cultural inspiration from the subcontinent's long history and mixes it with ideas from around the globe. The U.S. and its predominantly overindulgent lifestyle features heavily, but that can be balanced by the sensibilities of Osaka, Sao Paulo, and Seoul. The Tiny House Movement may very well fade away as an extremist fad, but some variation thereof could become the norm for a progressive Bangalore.

Repeatability, Repeatability, Repeatability: More valuable than any other item on this list is the ability of the rest of the world to repeat Bangalore's actions from the coming 15 years  and for Bangalore itself to repeat and refine these actions into 2045. Repeatability is hard to capture in a painting, but at its core is no doubt simplicity, which I think can be expressed artistically, even when describing an array of concepts. Indeed, the desire to see such artwork is a desire to witness these ideas expressed as simply as possible, so that anyone can understand and appreciate them.

Bangalore represents the breadth of the global economy, from the untraveled and uneducated to the owners of multinational corporations. It is a meeting ground for people of all fields and it's the perfect laboratory to run experiments predicting the global society of the future.

This is essential. The infrastructure and lifestyles of Earth's wealthiest nations are not sustainable and not repeatable. As the global economy continues to flatten itself, the behaviour of the wealthiest will need to change, from London to Los Angeles. Comparatively, the infrastructure of the Earth's poorest nations will continue to heal and mature. As every nation frees itself from conflict, it will require the tools to become a modern economy as quickly and cheaply as possible.

Bangalore 2030 is a blueprint.
Original post by Steven Deobald - check out Hungry, horny, sleepy, curious.