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?