I’ve never really consciously fallen in love with a city before. Chennai is home, I was just born in love with it. Delhi is where chitapa lives and which is very hot. Hyderabad, when I visited it, was less about the city and more about first-trip-with-friends-just-enjoy-the-outing. Goa… is not a city. Which leaves us, in our discussion of the cities I remember being to, with Bangalore.
Everything about it – the good, the bad and the ugly (and it’s certainly got a generous share of the latter two) is so characteristic of the city, it’s hard to imagine it without them all. The traffic here does complete justice to all the hype about it - which is exactly what the autorickshaw scene has not done, especially to one used to the notorious Chennai autos. For a city so densely populated by migrants who speak in their native tongue with the locals, all the only-Kannada boards and banners are a bit of an overkill. And for the first time in my life I’ve actually had to buy new moisturizer lotion. Add to that the cost of living, the jerks, the well-founded safety concerns, the unscheduled power cuts .. yep, it has its share of woes, B’lore does.
Whatever. Those minor almost-irritants are entirely tolerable when you step back and survey the experience this city throws at you, every day. The bus travel and walking on the road is all it takes to meet such a panoply of characters. The driver who recalled me and my destination the second time I boarded his bus; the passers-by who became a friend for the ten minutes that we walked a common stretch to a yet-to-become-familiar bus stop; the burkha-clad bus lady who thrust a Jesus is God booklet into my hand just before getting off; the drunken auto guy’s friend who was convinced I was his sister; the guy who flicked my laptop and who could be but mostly isn’t reading unfinished drafts for new posts; the people from Country Vacation who promised me a holiday worth 25k plus goodies if only I attended a short lecture and brought my husband along … and a dozen other people I will never see again, won’t remember after a few months, if not for this post.
Thinking about it, even those dampers can be quite fun if you’re in the mood to appreciate them. Getting up and going to work, already a marathon for late-risers like yours truly, has just become something of an obstacle-race-cum-suspense-thriller, thanks to the traffic and the auto-drivers who refuse to go to a place within a 3km radius during rush hour. Twisted delight perhaps, but who cares. Calculating - even as I hit the snooze button and roll over(after responsibly messaging the regular cab people that I won’t be coming) - which of the half-hour shuttles I’m targeting, and accordingly when to get up; getting ready in half an hour flat; flagging down an auto after half a dozen others haughtily turn away when they hear ‘MG’; willing the traffic lights to turn Available from Busy; predicting the meter reading and fishing out exact change before we reach; running to the MGR Y!parking lot and reading the crucial expression on Security Uncle’s face before turning the fateful corner- to see the cab only just about to leave.. really, could I ask for a more knuckle-biting start to the day? Of course, we all win some and lose some, and there are days when the drama builds up to a major climax only to fizzle out as I see my comrade the Security Uncle shake his head sadly the moment I enter the arena. Nine and twenty minutes of reading all that can be read in DHNS/TOI and a consolation prize of a small nap during the ride to EGL, and I’m ready for whatever the rest of the day has in store for me. It’s an exciting life we lead here, yessir.
Granted, any place will offer its own potpourri of experiences, if only you will open your eyes to it. This being almost the first time I’m consciously seeking and enjoying them, though, I will always look back at these memories with a special fondness. This truly is an amazing city, daily reasserting its unique spirit of fierce coexistence - through the locals who share their city with the ever-increasing floating population; the Brigade Road fashionistas who remain defiant of the saffron brigade’s rising nuisance; the luxury-malls of UB City juxtaposed with the thrift shops on Commercial Street; the Mysore Silks and the Miu Miu bags.. you get the picture.
Bring it on, Bengaluru.