16 June, 2021

Too Many Taxis In Heaven

Too Many Taxis In Heaven
When you think of the most crowded places on earth, where comes to mind? Dharavi—Calcutta—the high-rise hell of some first-world suburbs. But not, I'm sure, the Maldives, that string of atolls lazing in the Indian Ocean. After all, the total population would make up just one-sixth of a Lok Sabha constituency. As you fly in to the capital, Male, you look down on the magical sight of palms surrounded by white sand, coral reefs, and translucent turquoise shallows. Yet the capital island has a population density among the highest in the world. One-in-three Maldivians live in Male. That's 1,00,000 people, not counting the Sri Lankans and Bangladeshis brought in to do the hard work. All in an island of under four square kilometres.

And what a place. Luxury tourism has made the Maldives rich, by South Asian standards. In Male, street fashions are smart and the shops are well-stocked. And although everywhere is easy walking distance, this tiny island has twenty traffic lights, 500 taxis, and at least...

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