london cityscape

Cities

I think at this point in my life, I can safely call myself well travelled. Although I have never been to the quintessential western cities (Like New York, London or Paris), I have been to some pretty off-beat places.

raised building frame
Photo by Peng LIU on Pexels.com

I have a job where it is quite easy to shift my base to different places. I had a few offers to move again recently, and I was conflicted about it. So recently I started making a list of ratings for various cities I have been to, based on different parameters. These parameters are only based on things that are important to me.

Below are the cities, I have been to, rated on various parameters between 1 to 10.

Some things to remember

  1. I am only including major or metropolitan cities
  2. These ratings are purely based on my preferences and observations. Does not take into account other metrics I don’ deem important to me
  3. I do not take into account finances like income or cost of living. I assume proportional income everywhere
CityInfraFoodWeatherWalkabilityHistoryFriendlyDogTotal
Istanbul81069107555
São Paulo879958955
Bangkok6910679653
Melbourne10681042950
Budapest855896950
Vienna865894949
San Francisco757857948
Prague855894948
Helsinki9521043942
Kuala Lumpur655665336
Shanghai752852231
Bengaluru178364231
New Delhi281277027
Kolkata183165226
City Ratings

Infrastructure

This is probably the first thing one notices about a city, when you enter the airport and then when you leave it.

No doubt, Melbourne is the best city in this regard I have been to. Everything is clean and perfect. The roads, buildings etc. are all as should be in a utopian society.

Although I didn’t spend too much time in Helsinki, I found its infrastructure to be top-notch, too. The heated pavements were something I had never seen or imagined.

Budapest/Vienna/Prague all rank pretty high in this regard, too and São Paulo feels just like a quintessential European city.

San Francisco is beautiful, too, but I couldn’t un-see the mounds of human feces on every street corner and the sheer amount of homeless people.

Indian cities rank lowest. Although Delhi has a pretty good metro system, that is it. Everything is filthy and unkempt. Kolkata is even worse. Bengaluru, which has a huge potential has horrible roads and no water.

Food

Food is subjective, so the ratings are purely based on my own personal preferences.

Truly, I have never had food as good as Istanbul, ever.

Bangkok comes second, because of the sheer variety of the food available here. You have cheap (but hygienic) street food vendors as well as many Michelin starred restaurants within a block of each other.

Delhi and Kolkata come next, followed by São Paulo & Bengaluru.

view of a beyti kebab dish on a white plate
Photo by Mustafa Erdağ on Pexels.com

Weather and Air Quality

Weather is subjective and since I prefer warmer weather, I have rated Bangkok the highest.

Delhi and Kolkata are lowest because of the filthy air quality year round. Delhi is even lower than Kolkata because of the extreme heat during summers and unbearable (because there’s no heating anywhere) winters.

Walkability

I love walking (and street running), so walkability is important to me in a city. Perhaps it is not too surprising that these ratings mirror the ones for infrastructure as both these things are closely related.

Most cities in my list are extremely walkable, except the Indian cities, where walking on the streets is like gambling with your life. Maybe a few important ares in the cities have proper pavements, but certainly not throughout the city. To top it off, most motorcycle drivers feel free to ride on the pavements and cars try to run you down even at zebra crossings.

Historical Artifacts

Istanbul again wins hands down in this regard, being one of the oldest cities in the list and having been shaped by multiple empires.

European cities rank next, I love the thousands of years old architecture.

Most of the monuments in Delhi are a few hundred years old, but it is not difficult to find ones which are thousands of years old.

European colonised cities rank lowest, simply because they are not old enough to have significant historical artefacts, especially with the propensity of these colonisers to erase ethnic history.

brown and black mosque under white and blue cloudy sky
Photo by Yogendra Singh on Pexels.com

Friendliness towards outsiders

These ratings are purely about how the locals treat foreigners and expats.

Bangkok rates pretty high, because Thais, with some exceptions are very friendly and welcoming people. Although, if your appearance is very different from what they’re used to seeing, expect stares. Brazilians in São Paulo are also very friendly and welcoming. Because of their multi-cultural make up, there’s no one in the world who looks “weird” enough not to fit in there.

I have already written about the Chinese here.

I found most Europeans if not outright racist, at least pretty cold towards outsiders.

Australians are the worst. Although I did meet a few friendly Australians, most of them are racist pricks.

Dog Friendliness

I admit, some of the cities in the list above I visited before I had a dog and didn’t really notice how dog friendly they were, so the rating for those cities is from internet research.

Most cities in developed countries and São Paulo are as dog friendly as can be. Dogs are allowed almost everywhere – in malls, restaurants, cafés, bars, public transport, hotels. There are very little restrictions on what the dogs can do and where they can go, because their parents have enough common sense. These cities also have public dog parks.

India is not at all dog friendly. While pets are tolerated in Bengaluru and Kolkata, there are very few places where pets can go, limited to designated pet-specific businesses. Taxis won’t agree to take you if you have a pet. The public transport is not even human friendly, so I won’t even talk about dogs.

Delhi is the worst of all. People there actually hate dogs. There are severe restrictions on having dogs even in your own homes. Dogs need to take a separate lift when going out and they can’t be walked within the society grounds.

Bangkok is somewhere in the middle. Most people love dogs. Dogs are allowed in taxis and Tuktuks , but not in metros and buses. Most restaurants/cafes and malls allow dogs in the outdoor areas on leash and indoors in a pet buggy. Some malls and restaurants allow pets freely.

Talk to the dawg, yo

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