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Bring Back My Bangalore to Me

I miss the spirit of Bangalore. Some of you, fresh off the boat from Mumbai, or Dally (I like phonetics) may wonder what precisely I am waffling about. "Batao yaar, kya hain yeh spirit? Khoday's, Bagpiper...kya hain?" If I were to summarise it in a phrase, it would have to be something on the lines of: be carefree, adjust and enjoy. It doesn't quite hang together and would occasion more ridges and furrows in a grammarian's brow than a Gulbarga ragi field, but at least it has the virtue of accurately reflecting a bygone era.

I didn't grow up here, which is probably why I embraced all things Bangalorean with the zeal of the newly-converted. As a provincial hick from Madras, my cousins, who were of course, local yokels, did their best to imbue in me a reverence for clubs, jam sessions, cycling and other quintessentially Bangalorean leisure activities, like time-pass. Which, by the by, is masala peanuts.

I can confidently assert that in no other city in the country would one encounter a greeting such as, "Aarama?" which roughly translates as "Sleeping" but which really means: are you relaxed?” That is the key word — Bangaloreans take their relaxation very seriously — and woe betide any Johnny-come-lately who tramples on hallowed traditions and suggests an official Sunday meeting. Sundays are for beer, biryani and a siesta, not meetings for **#’s sake. "Loafer" is a swear word in Karnataka, which is ironic when you think of how good we are at loafing.

Bangalore had a wonderful intimacy to it back then: you knew everyone and even if you didn't it was a matter of time before you did. I confess I'm a little sick of hearing the term “Silicon City”; in fact it makes me want to projectile vomit and for those who have witnessed it first hand, they say it’s not a pretty sight. Silicon and techies are for the most part boring, and when they act as if the rest of us ought to be grateful for putting Bangalore on the map, I froth with rage. And projectile puke. Personally, I’d have been happier if they’d discovered Jharkand or Monghyr: those places suffer from scam-fatigue and would have been grateful for the development.

When I first came here in the 80’s to work for Usha International, the fans-sewing machine-diesel engine company, my unfortunate colleague who was the fan sales representative was the butt of much ridicule. "How many you sold, man?" was the inevitable query at monthly reviews and his brave, "Two sir, and orders in the pipeline for 3 more in June," were the cue for the rest of us sewing machine peddlers to fall about cackling. Alas, those cool, balmy times have passed, the sparrows have abandoned us and ugly, chrome and reflective glass monstrosities have sprung up like parthenium. Thanks to power shortages, the central air-conditioning in these edifices, if one may use the term loosely, have generator back-up and the heat generated by this lethal combination of inappropriate architecture and diesel CPU’s is only matched by political rhetoric. My bonny Bangalore lies over the ocean, my Bangalore lies over the sea, Oh bring back old Bangalore to me.