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09 May 2016

Coincidence? Or What?....

I don't know which year it was (I think it was 2004) or which paper it was where I read this Letter to Editor (most probably Deccan Herald)...
Dear Sir
I am a foreigner from Europe who is on a work project in Bangalore. I see that you are into developing your road infrastructure. What I am seeing makes me believe that you are on the wrong track. There are two models of Road Construction. One is the American Model, where the design of roads is vehicle (especially cars) centric. In this model, the roads are wide with lanes for more cars on the road. The walkways are narrow so that the pedestrians do not have enough space for walking. The second model is the European Model where road design start with a focus on pedestrians. More space is devoted for walking, cycling etc and less space is devoted for big vehicles. European model is very healthy. It creates healthy public since they will enjoy coming out and walking and cycling. It reduces pollution. 
I see that you are following the American Model, which will encourage more vehicles on City Roads leading air pollution, noise pollution and stressed population. This will increase illnesses like Blood Pressure and Cardio diseases. In my opinion you should do a thorough review of your infrastructure development philosophy and keep people at the centre of your philosophy....
Having watched the movie 'Before Sunrise' just a few  days ago, this letter made an impression in my mind. This movie shows Ethan Hawke and Julie Deply, who meet each other in a train and spend one night walking in the streets of Vienna. The roads were wide and it was pleasure to see them walking. I had also seen pictures of the famed 'Interstates' of US and found them to be abhorrent. To me, the author of this letter made a lot of sense.
I wondered who the author could be and from which country was he from. Despite passing of time, the contents of this letter was entrenched in my mind. What he said was common sense. Being a walking and cycling enthusiast, I hoped that the government would listen to his suggestion. 
Two or three years passed. I was asked to go to UK for a project with TESCO, the second largest retail chain in the World. This was a project to develop a single global instance of Financials for TESCO. I was the Solution Architect. There were teams from across the globe including from Hungary, Czech, France, US, Taiwan, China, UK and India as a part of this project. I used to talk the team over the phone. 
The head of Finance called a meeting of the team to discuss the progress of the project. The members came from all parts of the world. There I met Michael Dakin, working in Tesco, Prague. 
Surprisingly Michael could speak good English. On being informed that I was from Bangalore, he said, 
"I was in Bangalore, two-three years ago and I had written a letter to editor in one of your newspapers about the 'Road Infrastructure Development Philosophy' that you follow in India. I had cautioned against going for US Model of Vehicle Centric Philosophy..I guess they have gone ahead with that philosophy, haven't they?"
That letter was still in my mind. 
I remembered THIS letter, I wondered who it was who wrote it, and now I was getting to meet him.
Coincidence? Or What?...

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