Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Where is my Bangalore.....

Where is my city
The place that used to be
Where is my Bangalore
The valley of endless breeze
Has it turned to dust
Or can I still live my dream....


Asks a plaintive voice on radio every evening. It is an ad for a residential complex. The developers claim that their complex brings back the Bangalore of yore for you, with clear air, pristine lakes and green parks.

Each time the singer goes "Where is my Bangalore..." I get all teary-eyed and lumpy-throated and it's all I can do to keep my cab-mates from noticing me sniffling. And this happens every time I listen to the song. Actually I had no idea that the change in the city has affected me so much. It is this snippet of a song, this one line, that has shaken me up.

The popular image of Bangalore is now all glitzy and glamorous. The city that has made it's mark on the so-called software map, the city to which thousands of people head to for lucrative careers, the sleek glass buildings housing software companies, the glitzy malls and the flashy pubs and....... the pollution and the daily traffic snarls and crumbling infrastructure,

I have lived in Bangalore all my life, and thats a lot more than two decades. My Bangalore was cool, calm and quiet. The roads were so empty that my mom could, without any fear whatsoever, push my little sister along in her pram when she walked with me to school or to the nearby shops. The shady, tree-lined avenues with a thick green overhead canopy burst into flower in season. Flaming red Gulmohar, striking yellow Tabebuia, soothing lilac Jacaranda - all rubbed branches with each other and vied for centerstage. Come one shower, and these flowers descended delicately on the black tarred road, resulting in a beautiful multi-hued carpet. Cold mornings in winter, where we kids turned out in warm clothing and blew "smoke" out of our mouths and gulped down fresh, clean air by the lungfuls.Mist hung over the lakes. The lakes themselves were clean, pure, pristine, skirted with trees of various shades of green. The roads were clean, empty, more than wide for the existing vehicles. Travel was a pleasure (It used to take just under an hour to go from one end of the city to another.) All around were known, familiar faces, with no traces of surliness, Small-town hospitality was abundant. Crimes were few and far between.

Even now, if you go to one of the bylanes of an old locality like Malleshwaram or Jayanagar, stand under a tree on a silent morning and close your eyes, you can feel the old Bangalore. It is all around you, hovering in these streets, wondering where to go. The new Bangalore probably frightens it. But the old-timers do not allow the old one to disappear. They clutch it close to the heart with a fierce love. The same love that wells up in my heart when I hear "Where is my Bangalore"...

33 comments:

Raj said...

The old charm is not completely lost. As you said yourself, its still very much there in the bylanes of old localities. Even though i've only been here for the past one and a half year and mostly seen the ugly side of the city, its not very difficult to see how it must have been a beautiful place once. Even now its not that bad. And if the govt. decides to refocus its attention from changing the name of cities to improving them, Bangalore's glory can be restored.

Shruthi said...

Raj, that was perfectly put.

Sri Harsha said...

Hmmm....i don't know if everyone feels the same...but u know wht...i felt the same abt my native place(s) when i went bck after a gap....and i'm feelin the same recently abt Hyd. right now, after comin bck from the US.

I now feel tht it is we who are changing/growing up rather than the palces themself....wht do u say?

Shruthi said...

Harsha, you are right about the fact that sometimes it is we who have changed, and not the place itself.
But in the case of Bangalore, the change is very obvious. I have definitely changed, but Bangalore has gone way, way ahead.

Shruthi said...

Harsha, one more thing. You say that you find a change each time you come back after a gap. I am sure that the change really hits you in that case!
But in my case, I have been in Bangalore throughout (except for a recent 3 years) - and still the change is very obvious - it has not been gradual, it has been sudden.

Sri Harsha said...

And i too have been in HYD throughout but for the last 17 months.

On a lighter side...may be the rains tht b'lore recently had may have some thing to do with the sudden change.... :-)

Shruthi said...

:) The rains certainly played a major part! ;)

Supremus said...

Superbly put! You are so right about it.

I stayed in bangalore for my 4th and 5th std, and then returned back after 10 years for 2 more years; The last I was in Blore was in 2003 - and I think I have seen its phases. Yep, when I was young, Bangalore was so much cleaner, greener and nicer city.

In 2003, the city had grown beyond size, but I am told almost daily now that its gone worse; My relatives who've stayed their lives in Bangalore say the exact same thing as you say.

I agree with Raj - if there is a good govt, I am sure they can repair the city!!

Keep inkin - cheers!

Suyog

Anonymous said...

Very nice post. I came to Bangalore really late in 2000 and even then I couldn't help notice the change between Sadashivnagar where I lived and the rest of the city. Sadashivnagar still has tree-lined avenues which burst into colours. It still is cooler than the rest of the city. I am hoping that it stays that way. My friends who have stayed in the city for decades echo your thoughts word for word.

Shruthi said...

@Supremus: Thank you! Yes, lots of old-timers echo my feelings.

@Anon: Thank you! You are right, Sadashivanagar is still very beautiful - an evening walk on one of its avenues, or in the neighbouring Sankey Tank can be very rewarding.

plus ultra said...

One way of coming to terms with the changed environment is to think that you no longer live in Bangalore but in a new place called Bengaluru. That's how I got over my "longing' for Madras. I now live in Chennai.

Shruthi said...

@PlusUltra: LOL! But it's not that I have not come to terms with the changed Bangalore. It's just that sometimes I miss the old Bangalore.
Besides, when speaking in Kannada, I have always called my city Bengaluru, never Bangalore. So I cannot take refuge in the changed name! :)

Sudipta Chatterjee said...

There is always a trade-off involved with any advancement. If now Bangalore is on the software map, it paid the price by losing green avenues and unpolluted pristine air. The more important question is: was it a good bargain, and was that sacrifice necessary? I don't think so. As Raj puts it, if the government focuses attention on improving greenery and infrastructure rather than on the names of cities, things could be much better.

But is that song really that touchy?

Shruthi said...

Well, Sudipta, the very attractions of Bangalore proved to be it's undoing, unfortunately.

About the song, only some very rare songs are touching by themselves. - it is the listener who find a particular song touching or not. And this song touches me due to various reasons which I have explained in the post!

Manasi said...

Hey you are right! Though I have been to Banglore only once and very recently, I can empathise with you. Having lived all my life in Pune I feel just as you do about the sudden changes in attitudes, climate, traffic.... everything in my city. I long for the old serene Pune where you could cycle down the road as a kid and not worry about being run down, where you could visit a park and not get irritated by the crowds and noise.......... The city has changed dramatically!
But then thats the way of life, you move ahead and changes are inevitable.
Probably some few decades down the line with proper planning and government policy, our dear cities can be gifted back their charm!! Sigh!

Shruthi said...

Manasi, tere mooh mein ghee shakkar :)

Tejaswi said...

Ummmm....romanticism, and nostalgia. Painful, yet sweet.

Anonymous said...

I would say the descent of B'lore started aroun 1992 with the Two wheeler revolution. It was during this time that everybody decided to own a two wheeler as agianst using the BTS (me 2) that shot up the air pollution in the city. And now its the cars. I haven't heard the ad, regardlesss, i do miss the old time bangalore. I miss playing in malleshwaram grounds, swimming @ sadashivanagar's swimming pool, playing cricket matches t owin a pencil :) well that's childhood memories but then it has t odo with bangalore too. Thanks for mentioning "Jacaranda". It had been haunting me for almost two years now to place where i had heard about that but in vain. I now know :)

Useless Mortal said...

You spoke my mind out.

Like you, i have been staying in Bangalore for a little more than 2 decades. Until the past years i never knew about the existence of "New Bangalore" i.e.areas such as Jayanagar, Koramangla. I still remember people were considered mad when they bought houses in such areas.

Now that i have seen these areas, I do wish that this change never occured, not with our Bangalore atleast.

"Old Bangalore" (Malleswaram, Rajajinagar, Sadashivnagar, etc.) is the place to be in.

Shruthi said...

@Tejaswi: Mmmm yes :)

@Anon: Looks like we stayed in the same locality :) Lovely memories huh? :)
Btw I wish you leave a name when u comment ;)

@Sachin: :) you are right - even now, some people do not consider these new jing-bang areas as Bangalore at all :D

SloganMurugan said...

would love to hear that jingle...but I'm in Mumbai

SloganMurugan said...

It's sad but the song is by a firm that's actually screwing the city up.

Shruthi said...

Hi SM, I do not remember which firm this is - I always get lost in my thoughts and forget to catch the name :)

journeylist said...

l lived in bangalore for a year when I was two and then again in 1998-99 for about one year. since i don't have superhuman abilities, my memories of the city as a two-year old are not very clear. but the second stint made me fall in love with the place. i was devastated when I had to move out. there would be something tugging at my heartstrings whenever b'lore was mentioned. i thought it was different, more idyllic than other places. i always thought i would move back there someday. recently, i came there for a wedding and realised that it had become polluted, crowded, beset with problems which are there in any other metro...and i was not sure if i wanted to come back.
btw, hi and thanks for dropping in!

Anonymous said...

Its strange - You put up this post just a day before the ghastly incident in iisc occured - the post already made a lot of sense - it is making much more of it now :(

Shruthi said...

@Journeylist: Yes I can imagine - the real picture would have been so different than what u had in ur mind!

@Anon: :(

Diminutive-Indian said...

I agree, Banglore is losing its touch of old times. But I guess the old timers are enjoying it much, you can see them when ask shamelessly for 'atleast 10 months rent for deposit' and those high rent they want.

Nice blog :)

Shruthi said...

Hi Diminutive Indian: If you go around and ask all the landlords how many of them have stayed in Bangalore for more than 7-8 years, you will know who is an old-timer and who is not!

And cliched though it might be, money does not buy peace and happiness.

indiacorporatewatch said...

Hi Shruthi

Wish you a
Happy New Year

Haven't been around your blog for sometime now

I agree bangalore has changed in some aspects for the better and in some aspects for the worse.

Mysore is today what bangalore was 15 years ago .

When a city gets bigger it loses some part of its charm when you are reduced to just another face in the crowd

Unfortunately I think it only gets worse
Bangalore is growing and is headed the bombay way

There is very little we can do ...

Sometime back I decided that
by the time I near my 30's
I should have made enough money
to last my lifetime
and
then I am gonna move out of the city settle down in the rural heartland away from all this madness

Lets see ....

Harish N Jeyavel said...

Thanks Shruthi for some nostalgic Bangalore, Definetly adds the feminine touch that my mother feels about Bangalore but I just couldn't put into words. I loved the early Bangalore of the 80's, but I guess I also started loving the change, The new Mega City, Silicon Platteau Tag, the live music shows at palace ground, and then it strikes, Did we bite more than we could chew? I feel yes just that the politicians are not doing their part.
In one of the comments of this post, 'plus ultra' mentions Bengaluru sumarises the change,I dont agree because I guess Bengaluru could help us regain the old Nostalgic Bangalore atleast in name, dont confuse this with the name change game, my stand on Bangalore/ Bengalooru is here !. Anyways for a lighter moment have you come across The song of Bengaluru ?

Anonymous said...

Fantastic, easily the best post of yours. I had come back to good old bengaluru in Jan for a short visit and what I saw appalled me, the pollution was unbearable and I had a bad allergy due to it. I could not drive on the roads, people seemed to be gruff, rude and really impolite for every small thing. The city seems to have become very materialistic and people seem to have become very impaptient. But then again it is still the city in which I grew up and like you said the old areas like Malleshwaram, Basavanagudi, Rajajinagar etc still have the old world charm. I felt very sad that the city in which I was born and brought up has come to such a state. But I am sure things will look up. Change is always a constant... whether it is life or a city

Shruthi said...

Abhay, Jeyavel, and Anon: Thanks for your comments! :)

Pooja said...

I completely understand your sentiments...having been born and brought up in bangalore its a huge change for us to adapt to!!!

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