Prufrock's Page

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Big City Blues

Below, a random sampling of advice, warnings, pearls of wisdom and invective culled from city columnists over the past 130 years:

- We’re tired of seeing every square in the city flooded every time it rains. Whoever is supposed to fix this, should fix it soon. (1946)

- When you see a beautiful woman in the street, don’t look at her hatefully as if you’re about to kill her and don’t exhibit excessive longing either, just give her a little smile, avert your eyes and walk on. (1974)

- It is our hope that both drivers and passengers will make full use of the new taxi meters … and that our city will never again see the sort of haggling, arguments and trips to the police station that plagued our city twenty years ago, when … our city’s drivers took to saying, “Brother, give us as much as you can.” (1983)

- The loudspeakers on potato, tomato and propane gas trucks and the ugly voices of the men selling these products have turned the city into a living hell. (1992)

- Your city correspondent has received many complaints about our city’s night-watchmen who, instead of patrolling our markets and neighbourhoods, prefer to spend their time dozing…in many of our neighbourhoods, the sound of the watchman’s club is rarely heard. (1879)

- It is only by giving up our old way of comporting ourselves in the streets and in the city’s public places, and only by complying with the traffic regulations as they do in the West, that we can hope to deliver ourselves from the traffic chaos. But if you asked how many people in the city even know what the traffic regulations are, well, that’s a different matter altogether. (1949)

And the city in question is...Mumbai? New Delhi? Kolkata?

None of them: it's Istanbul. The selection is taken from the splendid book on the city by Orhan Pamuk, shortlisted for this year's Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction.

Addendum: Just came across Chandrahas Choudhury's post on Pamuk's book. Well worth reading.


  • Came here from Amit's!
    Istanbul? Hmmm.. It's not so surprising, when u consider that a lot of their culture seems to gel with India. Take for example, their food! They have something like a salt-lassi with every meal! And they brew their coffee in something that looks very very similar to a coffee filter from South India. I had a couple of Turkish friends at univ and found so much similarities! And Hindi movies from the 50s and 60s are still revered there!

    By Blogger anantha, at 8:44 PM  

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