‘Nothing is forever – the only thing constant is change’ is a statement which is applicable to most tier I and tier II cities. But in case of Bangalore, I experienced it.
I am a child of Bangalore and have stayed for 30 years, I felt shameful being lost in the city, the city for which I have been the resource person for most of my non-Banglorean friends.
My recent visit to Bangalore, made me really long for the Bangalore of my childhood. Way back in the 70’s ,80’s and even early 90’s words like traffic jam, gridlock, bottlenecks were unknown to us.
Till the ‘ Namma Metro’ (Mass rapid transport) is commissioned the traffic is going to be a pain not just in the neck, but the whole body. Wherever you see, you only find the metro piers and related works or the under pass works. The regular road routes are now either ‘sub way’(under pass) , ‘one way’ or ‘no way’. In many places, the main road traffic is now diverted to the service road. If you are a shopper bargaining for the right price with the hawkers on either side of the service road, consider yourself lucky, if you return home with your limbs intact.
Gone are the days when we used to carelessly walk on the Bangalore sidewalks carpetted with gulmohars, lilacs, sampiges and jacaranda while their trees canopied above us and the sunlight never fell on the road.
The charm of old Bangalore is lost to modern civilization. In the last decade, the city has grown beyond the 4 towers marked as boundary by the founder, Kempe Gowda. These towers now almost stand in the center of the city. From a 200+ sqkms it has now grown into a 700+ sq km city.
We had beautiful treelined road like margosa road(because of neem trees), sampige road( a wild scented jasmine) with proper trenches, lesser pollution, a salubrious climate( it still has), acres of lung space like Lal Bagh, Cubbon park,bugle rock, temples which are architectural marvels.
Bangalore had lots of water bodies called kere(lakes) which compensated for the sea beach that it does not have( then we would’nt have had such a lovely weather).
For entertainment we had the live music bandstands on weekends in Lalbagh, cubbonpark, traditional music festivals at Fort high school grounds, magic shows and dramas at Chowdiah memorial, town hall, ravindra kalashetra, Bal Bhavan, numerous theatres(KG road in Bangalore has 14 (or is it 17?) theatres which is the biggest number on a road in Asia. For tasty food we had thindi beedis like Sajjan rao circle, Udipi hotels like MTR, Dasprakash, darshinis, sagars ,Kamats, Tiffany’s, Koshy’s, K.C. Das, baked products at the many iyengar bakeries,V.B bakery( supposedly the first bakery of Bangalore), pay packets came from companies like HMT, HAL, BEL,BHEL, ITI,NGEF, Kirloskar, MICO etc.,It is also home to premier instituties like IISc,IIM, Raman institute.
With the advent of Texas Instruments the first foreign MNC to enter india and make Bangalore its home in late 80’s, slowly things started turning around in Bangalore. Many more companies like HP, Digital Equipment, Motorola, Verifone etc., came in, added to those were our own HCL, Infosys, Wipro etc., These companies brought the name ‘silicon valley of india’ to Bangalore and the number of openings and placements in the companies drew people from outside. This also inspired me to take up electronics for my graduation(B.Sc).
With the influx of people from other states, housing became a problem so the regular planned BDA layouts which had regulated sanitation and water connection, street lighting, a park, a play ground, a nandini milk parlour(bangalore milk diary), hopcoms outlet(horticulture produce of lalbagh for fresh veg and fruits) could not meet the growing population. Realtors struck gold while the IT people bought flats built on gramthana( agricultural) sites, revenue sites and encroached land of lakes etc giving way to many apartments in JPnagar, Bannerghatta road etc (closer to Electronics city).
Today, In the name of development, roads are dug, trees are felled, lakes are encroached. Sturdy age old trees are compensated with landscaped parks and lakes are compensated with musical fountains. Healthy brick and mortar buildings are replaced with hollowblocks, glass and chrome facades.
Satellite towns, agricultural lands of the 90’s developed into electronics city, IT parks, the BI airport, tech parks and shopping malls. The sprawling 40 acre Kirloskar company has given way to Brigade Gateway and lovely heritage structures like Hotel Victoria have made way to Bangalore central ( a mall), Lido theatre becomes lido mall,The british bungalows with fireplace and high ceilings in the wooded binnyston gardens( I had lunch at a friends place at one of these 15+ bungalows in 1988) have turned into a 200 apartment 'ETA star's -The gardens', The sprawling Minerva mills ground which held handloom exhibitions is turning into Sobha Minerva, the galaxy theatre where I saw ‘Titanic’ is now Galaxy embassy mall, the rose gardens of Vijayanagar, Double road (K.H.Road), beautiful boulevard with lovely bowers of bougainvillas on M.G.Road, , the calm west of chord road, the little retail shops on malleswaram 15th Cross Where I have shopped and walked have all made way for metro piers and so many numerous things have changed.
Old landmarks like lake view ice cream parlour, GK vale, India coffe house, Tiffany’s where memories are stashed for old bangloreans are turned into Glass and chrome malls for new Bangloreans to shop, enjoy and celebrate.
I really miss the beautiful and gentle Bangalore which had the sobriquets – poor man’s ooty, pensioners paradise, air conditioned city, garden city, Pub city etc.,
Now, How I wish IT revolution had never happened in Bangalore.
Change is welcome when it is healthy but then when things are changing for worse…… It’s time to think. Can silicon valley be reverted to Pensioner’s Paradise?
Not that other cities are lagging behind, there is chaos in almost all cities but this is the city I know and I miss the character of my Bangalore which still has the best summer @ 33 deg. Having experienced the hot summers of Delhi, UP, MP, AP, TN etc., I still maintain that Bangalore summers are cool even now in 2011, though evergreen Bangloreans sulk and say 33 is ‘shakkey’(sultry) and bisilu’(hot).
Having said all the above, there is something in the atmosphere which seems to draw me closer to this city.
Love you Bangalore though you have had a make over from a bean town* to burger town.
*Bangalore is the anglicized version of Bengaluru derived from Benda kaal ooru meaning the place of boiled beans.