These photos of Naypyidaw, Burma’s two-year-old capital city, are breathtaking. I can’t help but think of the many abandoned cities and forts that I’ve visited in India. I imagine they were equally absurd displays of government resources in their day, and now they’re in ruins.
You can learn a lot about people’s aspirations in these scenes: the yawning concrete plazas in front of tidy malls, brightly lit and symmetrical towers, uniformly painted homes…I can process these images and recognize their themes from growing up in the United States. I would love to know what the equivalents were in prior city building. In the 14th century, when Sultan Muhammed bin Tughluk moved the entire, half-million population of Delhi to his new capital Daulatabad, did the elite inhabit something like today’s “model home”?