TECH TALK: Reflections from a Dubai Trip: Return to Sender

Recently, I went on a 3-day mini-vacation to Dubai. This was my second visit there the first one having been in 2000. Coming after Atanu Deys series on Creating Indias New Cities, I could not but reflect on what could have been in India. A simple story will illustrate how far we are in India from even getting the basics right.

In Dubai, we needed to visit a friend in a place called The Meadows. We got into a cab and even though the driver had never been there, just by following the signs on one of the highways, we got to the exact location of my friends house. We did not have to stop the car to ask anyone. The signs were clear as was the exact address. Meadows x, Street y, Villa z.

A couple of nights later, on a visit to Delhi, I needed to get to the place I was staying for the night City Club. The address I had was: DLF City Phase 4 in Gurgaon. By the time I finished my meeting, it was well past midnight. My cab driver took me to Phase 4, and there we were stuck. Not only was the address incomplete (no street name), but there werent even people on the road we could ask. Compound that with the dimly lit streets and we spent 40 minutes trying to find the place. I even called the City Club and their directions were near Galleria Market which is near Iffco which isyou get the idea.

It is easy to find fault with the government, but I cannot understand why a private organisation like DLF could not (a) create street names (b) provide signage (c) light up the roads a little at night. After all that has been spent in creating the residences and offices, this would have an incredibly small expense.

To compound matters, the next day I had a similar experience finding Sector 3 in Noida. After the DND Expressway, there is one signboard for Sector 3 which says go straight. At the next intersection, there is no mention of Sector 3! One is left with no option but to navigate by instinct or stop the car and ask people on the street.

And thats where I think lies the root of the problem. This is what I call brain-dead thinking, and it is too obvious around us. More on that later. First, let us go back to Dubai.

Tomorrow: Make No Plans

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.