It’s been a week since I got back from home-sweet-home aka Bangalore. Now, as my stockpile of food from home starts to come down, the blues steadily rise. So of course, there’s a rant about Bangalore waiting to happen. Let there be no doubt that I do think Bangalore is the most awesome place in the world to live in, Bangalore traffic and pollution included. Now when you make statements like this people are always tempted to argue otherwise or expect you to prove the same. A friend of mine who happened to visit Bangalore for three days, especially had a bone to pick with me over this issue. And ever since then I’ve thought long and hard about how to explain to him the awesomeness that is Bangalore. It wasn’t until this time that it finally dawned on me what was going on.
You see, every big and famous city in the world is associated with something that makes it famous. New York has Times square, Agra the Taj Mahal, Vegas it’s casinos, Venice the canals. These places have come to symbolise these cities and are what you look forward to most when you travel there. Then there’s Bangalore. Now, we have Lalbagh, Cubbon park, Vidhan Soudha, the Bangalore palace and many other places but in the end none of these places individually or even collectively symbolise or stand for Bangalore. Bangalore doesn’t have the fast paced life of New York/Mumbai. At the same time it isn’t quiet and slow like a small village tucked away in the Himalayas/Alps. Bangalore is like a river, with ebbs and flows and you would do well to let the flow take you where it will.
Bangalore is not a traveller’s city. You will never be able to “see” Bangalore. Not because there’s nothing to see but because Bangalore is not just meant to be seen. Bangalore needs to be heard, savoured, felt, and above all, lived! You can’t put Bangalore in any mould. It will not fit. It’s not a rebellious teenager or an experimental twenty-something, a mid-life crisis waiting to happen or even a pensioner who’s seen and done it all. You can’t go looking for Bangalore in just one street, building or corner. It is all around you. It is as much UB city and Phoenix market city as it is Malleshwaram 8th cross and K R market. It is as much ITPL and Manyatha tech park as it is Lalbagh and Cubbon Park. It is as much 100 feet road Indiranagar as it is the food street in VV Puram. It is Chitra santhe, soul santhe, Kadalekai parishe and Bengaluru habba.
Bangalore is the silence and stillness in Lalbagh/Sankey tank within the chaos and traffic that surround it. It is the Benne dosa at CTR, the fish and chips at Koshys, the beer in Pecos and the Hamburger in The Only Place. It is the misty chill mornings in December and the hot sunny afternoons in May. It’s the random 5-10 minute long showers in July and the cool breeze in October.
You will be hard pressed to try to figure out Bangalore if you come as a traveller. I go back home every year for a month and I still find it hard to visit all my favourite hang outs, let alone try the new ones. Bangalore is always changing. Just as you are. And yet, it’s also the same. It finds a way to take the new and make it a part of itself without getting rid of the old. Bangalore is limitless. It cannot be confined. Believe me, they’ve tried. The first road around the city is now called the inner ring road while the city continues to expand beyond the newer outer ring road.
The truth is, you can’t put Bangalore in a nutshell. It is not the place you go to for 3 days and 2 nights and come away with a fridge magnet or a scaled model of a monument as a souvenir. You don’t come to Bangalore for a vacation, you come for life.