An old city, a new metropolis. A ‘random halli’, an airport, and a lot of ‘business ’in between.
When I saw this image doing the rounds on social media, my first reaction was to laugh as I related to the image. And then, I thought, that is it ?
The IT boom and the immigrant wave has steadily, stealthily changed the image of Bangalore (Bengaluru, if you insist), so much that this is all that appears to be left — traffic jams, Whitefield, start-ups, the posh twins Koramangala and Indiranagar. Pubs, malls , an international airport. Parks that are no longer about trees or flowers, only about computers and biotechnology.
The immigrant map is all about the new age, up-scale, techie crowd who can get around the city speaking English and find almost all that they need in this cosmopolitan, urban hub, the ‘cool’ city with the ‘chilled out’ people and places.
A digital-era map where Lalbaghs and Cubbon Parks have no place. An android-friendly map with no Ulsoor lakes or Sankey Tanks. The old-world charm of Veena Stores and Vidhyarthi Bhavan, Thindi Beedi and CTR may continue to have their loyalists, but dwell in the the minds of nostalgia-lovers and blogs about Bangalore’s old haunts, quietly hidden behind the overwhelming glass facade of modernity.
The old haunts exist-reminiscent of a vivid past- the freshness of Cubbon Park on an early morning, or the smell of magnolia flowers on Sampige Road in Malleshwaram in May.
Somewhere behind the roads that are so choked with cars that a Whatsapp chat takes precedence over a coffee with a friend who lives in the other end of the city, lie quiet neighbourhoods. Ones still have a few monkey-top windows, colonial bungalows, creepers around a wooden gate. A road where the sound of chirping birds used to overpower the horns of the red BTS buses. A temple where monkeys used to roam freely. Images that you needn’t be a documentary photographer to notice, but just take a step back.
They remain known to the old timers, as solid as the the model aeroplane outside the Vishweshwaraiya Technological museum or the grid-like windows of the Utility Building. They are hidden feebly inside the new wave of start-ups and business, fashion and food, like the Kempegowda Towers which once marked the boundaries of Bangalore and now fall far within the urban fringes.
Somewhere behind the specialty cuisine restaurants with a chef from Florence lie the hideouts with crisp vadas simmering in oil, where you stand behind the man drinking his sambhar and trying to make him leave the place out of guilt so you can grab his seat and indulge in some ghee-dipped dosas with the sweet-spicy sambhar.
Somewhere hidden behind the boho-chic cafe with quirky cushions you can see an old bungalow with floral windowpanes and white wrought-iron furniture, and nestled between pubs with neon lighting advertising happy hours, you can see a nondescript book shop selling a treasure of dusty, used books.
This too is Bangalore. Absorb it, quickly, before it disappears.