Ever since I first heard the iconic exchange between Mohanlal and Sreenivasan that concerned the distance between two American cities, I had wanted to visit the Capital of the US (and the World, as many DC-ers claim). After a couple of decades, the opportunity to visit the quintessential capital city came last week when I attended the Fall Conference of the Urban Land Institute, the world's top real estate and urban development forum.
Other than a whistle stop tour of the city and listening to a bunch of interesting presentations, I also got the opportunity of interacting with the leadership of some of the top real estate developers in the world including Forest City, Tishman Speyer and Boston Properties. Of course, what I wanted to understand most is their approach to international expansion, which seemed to be getting back on track after a spell of suspended animation during the worst of the Recession. And India is pretty much right on top of the priority, and there could even be some good news specifically for Trivandrum. Stay tuned on that!
I also had a chance to meet up with representatives of a leading urban planning and development organization, the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, which works with Governments and advocacy groups, like TDF, to promote sustainable transportation and urban design paradigms. I hope to have some interaction with them on getting a mass transit plan for Trivandrum rolling. On the same lines, MIT has recently tied up with Volvo for a new Center of Excellence on Bus Rapid Transit, and this is a resource that I hope to leverage for Trivandrum in the near future. More on these and other discoveries from the first six weeks at MIT soon!