Mankind has been on an unstoppable quest for development for as long as we’ve known. But such rapid development has its costs, costs that we are all familiar with. But even in spite of such things, we must find ways to stay positive and refresh our cities and lives. I take you through two such ideas that are refreshing the city of Bangalore, where I live.
Concrete jungles can be quite desolate looking. With over 5 million vehicles plying on roads in Bangalore, flyovers have become a necessity to help ease congestion. But the spaces under flyovers end up being neglected or end up being used as dump sites. The Ugly Indian conducts spot-fixes that clean up these spaces and add a bit of color to them, drawing peoples eyes to the lovely colors and discouraging anyone who would dirty them.
The Ugly Indian is an idea that came together in 2010. It is not an organization, a company or an NGO. They are anonymous and don’t have a face representing them. Their Facebook page just showcases the results of their work and where they are going to be next, no names or phone numbers. In a way they are like the Fight Club of clean up drives. The Ugly Indian’s philosophy is “Kaam chalu mooh bandh. Stop Talking, Start Doing.” The only way to see more is to show up and put in some work yourself.
First the pillars have shapes drawn on them using masking tape and are labeled with colors that need to be painted in.
Suiting up is always essential for any task. Denim is workwear incarnate and is the obvious choice for a task like this.
Such UFO ( Under The Flyover ) fixes are fun and involve all kinds of people who just want to give back in some way. Doing a paint-by-numbers type job under a flyover might sound boring but is therapeutic in some way. Encouraging words from passers-by help them along. The Ugly Indian carries out these spot-fixes because government agencies don’t take care of structures once they are built and thus these spots fall to negligence.
Wet paint signs not included. In a way this is also about reclaiming these lost spaces. Perhaps one day we will find better uses for them – as parking spaces, gardens or spaces for shops.
Seeing a bunch of pillars that no one would take a second look at, come alive in color is extremely rewarding.
Bangalore might not turn into a lifeless grey jungle just yet.
Denim is something that people from all walks of life wear everyday, whether it is to paint walls or give seminars. Denim is something that unites us as humans in a way.
Holystoked is a group of Indian skateboarders that came together in 2011, to promote skateboarding in India, build a community and to try and give that community a place to skate freely, with some sick obstacles thrown in. Skateboarding is at a nascent stage in India and Holystoked have done a lot to promote the sport by building skateparks and putting together tours around the country to spread the word. There are a couple of skateparks in Bangalore but they are scattered around the city. The Metro Jam is the solution to that problem. Held at the Swami Vivekananda Metro Station for 8 months now, the Metro Jam is a free for all skateboarding event where skaters can meet other skaters in a convenient location and well, skate.
Packed with competitions for skaters and the non-skating audience alike, the Metro Jam is a fun event to watch and take part in. Announcers yell out the names of tricks skaters are pulling and some challenges too! Giveaways happen on the fly and refreshments are free for everyone.
Overall, the Metro Jam is a great way to use the large spaces under the newly constructed Metro stations around Bangalore. Once again this is about reclaiming lost space that was once open ground. And skaters get an open space to meet and skate, people who would like to take it up get to try it and meet someone who can teach them and bystanders get to watch how a simple plank on wheels can be so much fun. Following this example, I hope that similar events can be held for other activities at other metro stations around town.
Skaters love denim for its durability. No matter how good a skater you are, you will fall and a good pair of jeans can protect you from scrapes and bruises, while itself surviving to live another day.
As diverse as these stories might sound, they are both trying to do the same thing. Bring wonder, joy and energy into our lives in the big city.
Do you know of or have a great idea that is refreshing your city in some way?
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