Bangalore or Bengaluru?

Bangalore Days was a wonderful movie. Especially so because just like the protagonists, I was also very excited with the prospect of moving to the city. As a starry eyed teenager, whenever I was told that there exists a city in the South which is bigger that Delhi, more cosmopolitan than Hyderabad and cleaner than Kolkata, I wanted to become a part of the hustle and bustle of this city.

Was Bangalore a revelation when I finally got here a few years later? In some ways yes. The cosmopolitan aspect of it was true. You could find both Punjabi uncles as well as loud Bengali aunties in the midst of Malayalis and Telegites. The Kannadigas were difficult to find though.

For a first timer, it comes across as too huge a city to fathom in a day or more. It’s too vast and too impersonal at some level. In the film Divya remarks that there is no one and nothing in the city that she can call her own.

That sentiment of alienation among the crowd of Majestic and Shivajinagar is very familiar to me. Everyone is too caught up in their own worlds to notice the other. However, after a series of dramatic events, DIvya, Kuttan and Arjun come to terms with the ways of the metropolitan.

For a conservative good boy like Kuttan it means being comfortable with walking on the side of road where a couple is kissing. For Arjun, that means learning the importance of a career and establishing one self.

The wanderer becomes the settler and the conservative becomes a liberal. It is a city where dreams come true. A place not restricted by traditions and customs as much as the rest of the country; yet a place which smells of culture.

Bengaluru is Bengaluru for some and Bangalore for others. It is the go between for some who are seeking a transformation from traditional living to modern living and vice versa.

The American girl that Kuttan ends up marrying is the example of how people come here seeking culture. That aspect of the film rings a bell.

But what the filmmaker missed was the traffic, the over-crowded BMTC buses that Arjun travelled on, the eve teasing that Divya could have faced when she came back home alone post classes and the judgmental glances of the neighbours when Kuttan stayed back at his girlfriend’s house.

However, it is imperative that one gives artistic freedom to the filmmaker.  Hence, keeping his perspective in mind, the film definitely did a good job in portraying the spirit of this vast, multifaceted city.

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A twist of taste, tongue and color- visit to Mosque road

Mohammed Abdul has been serving the finest pathar gosht in one small stall in Mosque road, Frazer town every Ramadaan for the past seven years. He is a bespectacled man who stands all day long instructing his juniors on the art of making the perfect mutton—juicy and soft with the smoky flavor. He likes to call himself Mr. A, for the benefit of those who are not much familiar with names such as his and often twist it to resemble something like a word spaghetti. “This year the stalls are really less and so are the people. Last year was much better—the number of people more and the food better. We did great business…but this year looks bleak,” he told me when I asked him how his stall was doing. According to the majority of the stall keepers, the residents of Mosque road had complained of the increase in decibel levels, the traffic jams and the inability to park their cars anywhere near their house. Hence, this year the glam quotient and hype of this place is a lot less.

I visited Frazer town on a Sunday—probably the worst decision I have taken off late. It resembled a fish market with hardly any space to move around. The food, I felt, was not worth the money I paid to get it. The biryani was bland; the firni had gone bad; the kebabs were good, however the pathar gosht was out of this world- totally worth the money.

There was a certain stall selling free Quran in English to spread awareness about Islam. I went up to one of the guys and chatted with him about the initiative. He seemed pleased and was willing to answer my doubts about certain things in the Quran that I didn’t quite understand.

The people around me were dressed like they were attending a marriage ceremony. Families had come for an outing determined to stuff themselves as much as possible. Men were burping shamelessly and pushing their chairs out to get themselves a third helping of kebabs. There were a few lone eaters, like myself, who seemed content to stare at the colors around them and enjoy their food.

I had gone to this place to eat. But along with my taste buds, all my other senses were awakened in this small expanse. My eyes saw varied colors of food- primarily meat; my ears heard bizarre conversations- two middle aged men were arguing over whose chicken was fatter when it lived; my nose smelled an interesting concoction of smells- the smell of cinnamon and milk somehow co-existed.

A word of advice to the people going there for the first time—be sure to look after personal belongings such as phones and wallets as there are high chances of getting mugged and be prepared to be squashed and pushed around.

A visit to mosque road will definitely give you a lot to ponder on once you are back to the comfort of your bean bag and laptop.

Bangalore Diaries (Chapter 1- First Glimpse)

They say the soul of a city resides in its street. It has not been very long since i shifted to bangalore- just about a month or so. Being a typical north indian, my only encounter with the south is the few years i spend in hyderabad as a kid of four. My mind associates south india with women wearing gajras, spicy food, curd rice and a strange tongue. When the talks of my moving to this city started, i was a little apprehensive. I had heard a lot about Bangaluru– people called it the air conditioned city, the garden city, the brewery of india and so on. However, despite all the encouraging talks, the prospect of leaving my beloved kolkata was hard to digest. However with time, i warmed up to the idea.

My first impression of this city- like most others- came from the airport. Otherwise a little intimidating owing to its vastness, the airport came across as friendly and warm. The staff were welcoming and helpful folks who never lost patience despite me pestering them for my luggage which was last to be loaded on the conveyor belt.

For the past month, i have travelled around in this city mainly in the public transport– buses and autos. The locals, wearing their perpetual smile, are a treat, especially at 6 am when the eyes are heavy with sleep and the mind is just getting used to the fact that it is a new day.

I found a friend in an old gentlemen who boards the same bus as me at Spice Garden and gets off a little after Domlur. We just exchange a smile, a ‘Good morning’ and a ‘Have a nice Day’. Maybe our friendship will be limited to this, but finding a friend so easily can only happen in this city I guess.

In time, I will come to admire this city more. But at the moment, I am content with the fact that the city welcomed me with open arms and gave me smiling faces from early in the morning into the wee hours of the night.