Cities and Ambition – My Experience

Paul Graham wrote a nice essay titled “Cities and Ambition”. When I read it, I had already returned to Kanpur (my hometown), I took the essay in slightly different manner i.e. I challenged it and motivated myself by thinking, I can do great stuff from this city.

Just after one year or little more, I am in agreement with that essay. I realize, how a good city (and people there) matter in whatever you do.

At work, I ended spending most of time dealing with personnel issues and trying to mentor about obvious things (in development and programming).

Outside of work, I don’t feel like going out anywhere, not even walking on streets. I just don’t like the attitude, psyche and habits of people here. I have, slowly, stopped doing all activities – photography, bike-rides, blogging, participation-in-events, exercising, etc. I am trying to understand the reason, I imagine it could be because of lack of motivation or I am too busy trying to do a few things.

Another important thing, it doesn’t matter, who is holding what position, or how much rich one is, or what is someone’s background – most of them don’t know the basic etiquette and manners (traffic, talking, respecting, eating, etc). Everyone appears to be selfish, who just cares about himself and his things (house, car, job, etc). No one bothers to care about other people and city.

I don’t know, I can change others but I have kept myself the way I have been i.e. I still avoid throwing garbage on streets, spitting anywhere and doing other bad things, so common here in Kanpur.

Unfortunately, children inherit these bad habits/values from their elders, and are not able to figure out that most of inherited values are not good.

The worst thing in this city is the kind of attention a girl/woman gets from males (from 7 yrs to 80+ yrs). It’s weird to see the bad treatment given by males to females almost anywhere (roads, shops, cafe, etc). One could easily notice these things. Hard to imagine, how much a female-of-kanpur has to go through and tolerate.

It’s sad, but true, today whatever Kanpur is because of it’s people. I am not complaining here; I am just writing what I notice – Kanpur is not a good city. It could have been better or remained better (as it was some decades back), if people were better. We (Kanpurites) deserve whatever (bad culture, bad public infrastructure, etc) we have now.

The day, we start changing our attitude and habits, we would see the change.

Meanwhile, I am going to work hard to be what I am, if I can’t get better. Things said above, are trying hard to change me, directly and indirectly. Each and every moment of the day remind me of my ambition and vision, I would not let anything stop me from doing it. If It takes me to move out of the city, I am now ready to do that too.

  • Nice article, mentioning the issues in small cities. I am doing something similar like you, but at a very small scale, from my home town “Almora”, Uttarakhand. Facing almost similar issues, but I haven’t lost hope till now :)

  • anwar

    kanpur is shit because of shit people.

  • Pandu

    Hi Abdul, I totally agree with you. I guess the issues you mentioned here applicable to many other cities too. The society looks, feels good only when there is a change with in people mind, heart. Otherwise, how is life friend?

  • Your perception about Kanpur is absolutely precise. I spend one year in Kanpur and felt the same. Now I got shifted in Lucknow, feeling much better, but I can say only one thing, these type of crappy persons are everywhere. May be I am also one of them (sometimes), but we need to stay good as per our end. Its really a big issue of “SOCIETY”.

  • Hear your pain Abdul. It’s not easy in kanpur and more so when you are trying to do lot of good things in new ways. 

    Practical approach would be to have a balance. Start something in NCR or Bangalore, keep Kanpur office going.  Keep traveling back and forth.  Very hard to change culture but I am sure your approach is positively influencing lot of young folks. 

    • Thanks for feedback and tip… We have been thinking to do that, hopefully we can do it…

  •  I know exactly what you mean ; I am undergoing similar situation; Calcutta and the Bengali attitude of laziness bothers me much. I might come up with my own version of essay sooner or later. But I don’t think there would be any quick fix solution for such problems. Changing cities is also not a viable option. The only thing which is necessary is not to get influenced by the surroundings. Keep up the good work of good culture and habits and pass it to the next generation. One day there will be a change.

    • I agree with you. There would be change, we need not to get influenced by bad things in culture. We need to do good/right things consistently, things would change…

      You can find it in all cities. Why do things work cities like Bangalore, Pune, Mumbai, etc. ? We all know – people, who are lazy at home, do most of work in other cities :-)

      There is a reason behind why locals don’t or can’t work as much as they do it in different cities. When we live with our families/relatives in our own city, we have more responsibilities and we are more relaxed.

      Changing cities is not an option. I am always thinking, perhaps there is something wrong with my style of running company, how can I be sure, I would do well in other cities? I need to keep improving myself and only give up (change city), when I am sure “I am doing right, I am alright, this city is never going to be good for the work we do”.

      I am going to stick around for as long as I can, hopefully forever :-)

      Looking forward to your essay… I found one about admin-lady very interesting and useful…

  • Apoorv Siloiya

    Quite a view u had of Kanpur sir…although this type of selfish behaviour lies in most of the parts of India…and it’s very tiring to rectify the mentality of the males towards’s in here Lucknow too but varies from part to part of the city … but nevertheless quite a gud post … has the qualities to be published in local news paper just to show mirror to people of the city …

    • Thanks for feedback on my views, which could be wrong…