Friday, August 24, 2007

Beginning to love Bangalore

As a gentle cool breeze disturbs the leaves, I rewind the tapes of my memory and find myself a little afraid and a little excited but ready for a new chapter in the book of my life. I had come to Bangalore to make it my new home. As thousands of Indians have done before and are doing now, Bangalore was ready with its inviting climate to wrap me and welcome me.

The Inevitable:

Certain things happen unconsciously or rather semiconsciously in the mind that it takes a while to appreciate that they have actually happened. Ever since I set foot on Bangalore, my mind started to compare the life here with that in Chennai though I never deliberately tried to draw comparisons.

All through my school and college life, I have observed the life in Chennai closely. The city has a ‘conservative and traditional’ tag attached to it though it is breaking out of its shell to join the ‘truly cosmopolitan’ league of cities.

What would a person’s feelings be if he is constantly or for the most part of the year living in 35+ degrees and high humidity? The relentless sun and the inescapable heat together make a person irritable. On the other hand, if there is a pleasant breeze teasing one’s skin all through the day and one can’t exactly tell the time without a watch just by feeling the heat, one tends to have a more pleasant countenance. To me, that sums up the difference in the attitude of people in Chennai and Bangalore. That is also the reason why people easily settle down in Bangalore more than Chennai.

A sense of belonging:

As a person changes address, he carries with him a baggage of emotions and attachments some of which can be shrugged off with little effort while some remain in place. If one constantly looks at things with a fault-finding comparison lens, one can easily find a lot of things to be dissatisfied with. I was from the beginning determined not to fall into this trap.

Very few cities in India can boast of a diverse mix of culture that adds to the charm and attracts people from all walks of life. IT has done exactly that to Bangalore. It has made the city home to such a cross section of society that I’d not be exaggerating if I venture to describe it as an urban Indian microcosm.

Right from a person who ekes out a living by ironing clothes to a person manning the counter of a supermarket, every person knows another language on top of English and Kannada. This language factor plays an important role in putting a newcomer to the city at ease.

Exploring the city:

The thing that struck me first in the city is the large number of malls. Every street corner seems to have one and all of them boast of as being one-stop shops. While people find it easier to shop in these malls and have a wide variety to choose from, more often than not, they end up buying more than what is needed.

The very first week in the city I went book-hunting to the Sapna book house. It lived up to what I had expected. The collection was astoundingly impressive and like every avid book lover, I felt even a whole day wouldn’t be enough just to browse through it. Sadly, the British council library here is not stocked as good as Chennai.

The forum is a good place to hang out especially if one doesn’t know what to do during the weekends. The Ragiguda temple close by is so beautiful that I have made it a habit to visit the temple at least once every week.

I live in Jayanagar now which is around ½ hr travel under ‘normal Bangalore traffic conditions’ from the Majestic bus terminus. The place is a residential area with well planned roads and trees that, perennially, one feels the whisper of Mother Nature even as the traffic creates a continuous hum.

As I return after work, the sun bids goodbye for the day and twilight sets in. A feeling of romance sets in if rain decides to pay a visit during that period of dimming natural light. As I hum songs and walk, I observe a father playing shuttle with his son, a little girl fast asleep in the lap of her mother who is busy selling vegetables to an old lady, children coming out after their classes form the Urdu school…

(To be continued)

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