the water supply, an afterthought


Senior Member
Hi everyone.

I read this sentence on

"The suburbs of Mumbai do not resemble the West's green acres of semi-detached domesticity. They are more like chaotic city-centers with basic planning,like the water supply, an afterthought."

Here, how to understand "an afterthought"? Some say it should be like this"the basic planning is like the water supply;both are an afterthought". But I understand in the opposite way, I think it should be "They are more like chaotic city-centers that has basics planning,for example the water supply which is an afterthought."

How do you think of it? Thank you!
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  • Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    The first way is right: basic planning and the water supply are afterthoughts. The structure of the sentence, removing the comparison, is "... with basic planning [being] an afterthought." The phrase about the water supply simply adds to that.

    Edit: no, on rereading I agree with the comments below that the "like" introduces an example of basic planning, not a comparison.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    That phrase tells us that basic planning of any kind is an afterthought. The writer doesn't seem to think too highly of city-planning in Mumbai. Setting the phrase "like the water supply" apart with commas tells us that the water supply is just one of many things that city-planners haven't planned well.

    Cross-posting with many other members here. :)


    Senior Member
    American English
    They are more like chaotic city-centers -- and basic planning, for such things as the water supply, sewers, sidewalks, and electricity, are afterthoughts.

    I've expanded the examples of basic planning, but what it's saying is that the most basic things for human comfort and survival -- things that should be thought of first in planning a city -- are only considered once the city has been created.

    Edit: I see I'm the caboose.


    Senior Member
    Thank you all for detailed and prompt replies!By the way, it took me a while to open this website today and I cannot figure out what happened then. Sorry for bad formating.
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