Oct 14, 2016
When the mobile rang, I realised it’s the dawn of a new day. I thanked my Lord for keeping me alive but not awake the whole night. It was a glorious morning, I thought. My wife was still sleeping or perhaps living in a better world than mine, I guessed.
The previous evening we had a gala time at the Panambur beach, where everything was in its place, all decked up with all the amenities. Leisure rooms with clean toilets and barbeque stands drilled to the ground. Self-help kitchens with an ample stock of sugar free capsules and electric kettles. You need to bring only a few sachets of tea bags and there were enough facilities to make and sip your tea. There were frying pan-stands again drilled to the floors so that one could fry bread or make an egg-omelette. There were many bars with a variety of spirits of one’s choice. Even the banks had set up their ATMs everywhere.
Who was on the phone anyway? It was my friend Michael who wanted to check if I could join him to go to the bank. I laughed at him. What is the need to go to the bank? We had all the facilities of e-banking at our finger tips. Just flick open the mobile and buy, cash, make transfers at the click of a button. Pay the power and gas bills through Apps, buy fish, vegetables, and soft drinks, whatever. Don’t ask for a receipt for we live in a paper-less society. What a splendid transformation of a city, my God!
The roads are safe, wide, with broad pathways of course, each electric pole has a solar light. Dust bins on both sides of the road, one for dry and the other for wet garbage. Low-floor buses, all multi axels, and designated seats for the differently-abled, children, senior citizen and girls. Each bus has ‘no smoking’ signs and the public address system to announce every destination.
The city has everything you can ask for. Parking spots with a small fee, every building has a garden, every corner has a toilet, recreation facility, religious centre, everything. The restaurants are crowded with Mexican, Chinese, Japanese and Italian cuisines. KFC, Pizza Hut, MacDonald’s have gone to give way to high brands such as King Joe, Big Brother, Uncle Sam and Bloody Mary. Coca-Cola and Pepsi are owned by local brewers under ‘Make in India’ scheme.
The telephone rang again. When I opened my eyes everything was gone. My wife was still sleeping. I was terrified. I woke her up and asked her – “Why does everything seem to have changed. Are we not in a Smart City?”
She was annoyed to the hilt for ruining her dream world. “Sleep, you silly” she screams. “It’s only two in the morning. To hell with your Smart City and your dreams” – she yells and goes back to sleep.
I pinch myself to make sure I am alive; I go over to a mirror to see if I have aged. No. I am still below sixty.
“Was it a dream or am I already in a Smart City?” – I ask myself or was it our trip to Australia’s Gold Coast, a few years has made a difference.
Alas, it was a bloody dream – the dream of a common man – of living in a Smart City.