This here is a little story about a city of an age bygone
And if you're of the talented kind, you can even sing it like a song.
It is a story of a Bangalore we once knew, before it grew. And grew. And grew.
Put together with the help of ingenious illustration and not so witty verse,
we'll let you decide whether this modernisation has been a gift or a curse.
We'll start at the start, and take it from whence,
back when the city was called Pensioner's Paradise, and it actually made sense.
With gentle gentlemen, lovely ladies and fewer street side shady boys (they've always been around.)
It took you less than 20 minutes to get anywhere, and with negligent auto fare.
The streets were smaller but somehow wider, the smiles were fewer but brighter, and evenings at the club meant a drink or two, some housie, and if you felt bold, a little bit of jiving with that cute anglo boy, amidst furious whispering and staring by aunties, who had far too much lipstick on.
(What? You thought this whole thing was going to rhyme? Mad or what?!)
And there were trees everywhere. Everywhere. And consequently everything seemed prettier. Even your neighbourhood aunty. Because, that's what trees do. Apart from sustaining life. They're awesome like that.
Perhaps someone who liked organising things (and making lists) decided to put cute bricks and gates around those trees, and throw in a couple of benches for those clandestine couples. And just like that, this became the Garden City.
There was so much green, and such a great demand for these cozy benches, that these gardens sprung up everywhere.
(Jaynagar still represents some of this old school charm, and need.)
And we wore that title of 'Garden City' with much joy and pride.
Of course, where there are gardens and good weather and happy people, there are pubs. (Totally made up that causal relationship. It might require further research.)
The good weather made working a little hard, and if you weren't working, you might as well be drinking, right?
(Plus, what else do you want pensioners to do apart from gardening? Give them a break.)
And so, Pub City was born, and was admittedly a cooler title for the new world. We took it. And we've had everything from Pub World to Pecos, and Tavern to Toit (shameless plug) ever since.
(Breweries would of course make a late entry, in an attempt to refine the palette of the gentry.)
But with pubs, came the public. And paradise suddenly seemed to have a price. Technology seemed to be extending its tentacles, slowly, surely and rather sneakily. It started with that dial up connection, that seemingly modest looking two-storey software office. But that was only the base for a much larger mothership to follow.
(Cue epic scenes from Independence Day and Terminator: 2. But this was more like Skynet (or Satyam) taking over Shanthinagar.)
And boom! People were so caught up with the beauty of this boom, for reason and logic they left no room. (Much like this forced rhyme.)
And then the mothership came. Along with IT company 1, 2, and 100. And we were not ready. It was nothing short of an invasion. Before you knew it, your Iyengar bakery with very best honey cakes was replaced by a cyber cafe, your favourite heritage hotel with fabulous filter coffee was taken over by computer programming offices, and even your nosey neighbour Mrs. Aunty sold that teak dining table she would go on and on about and bought a desktop PC. The takeover was complete.
It's become Bungled-ooru now, more than anything else. Trees are more hot topics for activism than a place you can sit under on a sunny day and enjoy hearing mynas chirp. (Mynas you only find at the airport now, eating the overpriced airport idlis you wasted, out of your tray).
Heritage buildings exist only in framed photos hung at Corner House (yum) and in snooty clubs with 10-years waiting lists. Lakes are mostly fakes, and even though the roads seems to be getting narrower, the buildings seem to somehow be getting bigger and taller. And nowadays jumping from a plane seems more relaxing and less dangerous, than navigating through Bengaluru traffic. (No jokes, people actually find it therapeutic. And all those people must be from here only.)
People still go to pubs though, to drown sorrows more than anything else, and if you're lucky enough to be in a pub where the music doesn't drown conversation out, you'll hear some sentimental old fool talk about the Bangalore of 20 years ago, the Bangalore of the past, where things weren't this hectic and the pace wasn't nearly as fast.
And somewhere, a meek voice that can't quite convince itself, will pipe in "But, we still have great weather. No?!"
Note: All the images here feature the amazing work of the legendary Paul Fernandes, taken from the writer's private collection.