Thursday, May 11, 2006

Defending Home

It was not until 2001 August, that I realised how much I loved Bangalore. I traveled 400 kms to Madras and decided to make that my home for next one year, that is when it hit me - I was a hardcore bangalorean. I loved the fact that the city woke up late. The traffic wouldn't start buzzing until 7.30 in the morning. No maddenning honking around the neighbourhood, even in "peak" traffic hour. The peak hour lasted about 2-3 hours totally on an average day. The sunrises and sunsets looked beautiful back then. Orange mornings and evenings were a given. I remember driving on MG Road towards the Vidhana Soudha at 6 in the evening. It was almost magical. The sun setting behind the trees of Cubbon Park and the golden domes of vidhana soudha would wipe out any resentment I had on that day. The May flowers that bloomed all across the city during summer is another unforgettable sight. I remember walking on a carpet of yellow flowers on cool evenings to have an ice cream at the corner shop. Then the maximum temperature on the hottest day of summer would've been about 32. I could go from Yeshwanthpur to Bannerghatta road in flat 1 hour at ten in the morning. On worst days it would take 1.5 hours. No angry drivers who honked and yelled at you, except for angry BMTC buses or Lorries. And even if they did you could tell them to pipe down. I remember once a maruthi car driver was honking madly behind me for about 3 kms on bannerghatta road. When at a signal, I asked him why he was honking; he actually apologised to me and didn't do it again. People were actually nice. We didn’t bond madly and help each other out but we certainly weren’t rude to each other. I yearned to come back home.

The stay away from home originally planned for a year lasted almost 5 years. I came back home craving for familiar sights and places, most of all the drives towards the sunset. I knew Bangalore wasn't the same. I did visit Bangalore, often on weekends and festivals. Huge apartments had come up all over the city, leaving very small pockets of old city. Flyovers and ring roads had taken in most of the trees, leaving only institutions like IISc and armed forces to guard the trees in their campuses. I couldn't afford to live in the city, so I had to move to outskirts. Absolutely bereft of any character or warmth, just buildings and flyovers surrounds me. I dare not even think of driving anywhere at 6 in the evening, let alone on MG Road. It would take almost an hour to cover even 2 kms. Not a state of mind that will let you enjoy sunset! Sunset is another story all together. There are no orange evenings or mornings anymore. Just grey skies, absolutely depressing. And when it comes to rainy evenings its even worse, all I hear is how horrible the traffic will get because of it and how many homes might get drowned if rains any harder.

Home that has changed so drastically is hard enough to take. What makes it worse is what people say about Bangalore. I constantly hear "Oh Bangalore is horrible; the real estate is so expensive!" "Bangalore is not at all safe they just don't like software engineers there" "Bangaloreans are so sleepy they won't wake up even if there is a bomb blast" "Were Bangaloreans always this rude?" "Don't even talk about the traffic there; it is the worse in the country.” All this from people who have made Bangalore their home in the last few years.
I take every one of this very personally. I know it is uncalled for sentimentality but it is very hard not to do that. I find myself defending it "it was not like this before" I say. "Even five years ago it was alright, you know." I come back home wondering what I can do to change people's perception? My Bangalore was not like this. It has been forced to change. A city is as good as its people isn’t it?

Often these days people ask me - "Why did you come back to Bangalore?" I just say it is my home. You don't run away from home do you?


Pavithra Sankaran said...

There is an organisation, whose name I have of course forgotten, which is located on Nandidurg Road and works towards making Bangalore more liveable. Perhaps you should get in touch with them.

S. said...

Pavithra: Do you mean Janaagraha?

Abhipraya said...

Hey Janagraha sounds interesting. Have they done anything would you know S? Their website is all too heavy, couldn't get much info.