Wednesday, May 24, 2006

bangalore observations - 1

I think the time has come to put some of these thoughts in writing. For the last 5 months Bangalore, or as it will be called very soon Bengaluru, has been my home. It was an O Henry short story that introduced me to the idea that every city says something. I think it was called "Voice of the City", and the idea somehow stuck, of thinking of a city as a huge,leviathan living being. Well...since then I have tried very hard listen out for what every city says..and its been an interesting and a very rewarding experience..there's nothing quite like getting to know a city. Exploring and living in a city has become something of a personal experience...something of the nature of getting to know a person - it takes time. Hyderabad,Calcutta, Delhi...I ve lived in these cities for verying lengths of time, and have gotten to know them to varying degrees of familiarity. Thus, when I came to Bangalore I was looking forward to get know the city that one hears so much about.

I was a little dissapointed by my initial impression of seemed too much like the yuppie city it has been made out to be in popular conception. There were giant malls..and more Pizza Hut outlets than all of West Bengal or Andhra Pradesh. As I had expected, it took time to find out more.

Bangalore is cultural melting pot...there is an amazing variety of people, who call this city home. It is also undoubtedly the most, to use the hackneyed word, "westernized" city in the country. There is however, a clear divide that runs through the city. Between the "software engineers", such as myself, who treat the city as a stopover in their lives, and the indigenous "bangaloreans", the people who ve been living in the city for generations and who have been witnessing with increasing animosity their city being overrun by the "software engineers". I am obviously talking in very broad strokes.

Appareddy Palya, where I rent a a locality that can perhaps best be described as a backwater district of the affluent Indiranagar area of Bangalore...and probably the best place to understand why I call Bangalore a cultural melting pot. To the fresher at a job, or a student intern as myself it offers an affordable housing option extremely close to the upmarket area of Indiranagar while at the same being homes to numerous autowallah's, labourers, vegetable thhela so happens that all the waiters at a chinese restaurant very close by that I frequent, are also my neighbours. Thus, on my way back to home from office everyday I see people, the very yuppies who frequent the nightclub and disco joints in bangalore..ot maybe well dressed software engineers, in an environment that is clearly not their natural one. What strikes me hard is the peaceful and even comfortable acceptance and co-existance that charecterises Appareddy Palya...amongst such a wide spectrum of people...such a balance is unlikely, and to my Hyderabad and Calcutta middle class society trained eye , unnatural. Yet, such a sight is very natural, perhaps even commonplace, to Bangalore.

Completely unrelated (or is it!!) to the above description is another extremely commonplace sight in Bangalore. Walking on the main is repeatedly accosted by men, dressed in clean pressed formal shirts, cotton trousers, shoes... selling socks. Socks!! The first time it happened I couldnt believe it...the guy looked a carbon copy of the usual software geek returning from office...but here he was selling socks and assuring me that "There is special offer Sir!!". Since then I have grown more accustomed to the sight...but I still cant quite put my mind to rest. It makes me intensely sad whenever I come across one of these guys. I imagine myself getting up every morning and going through the same routine that I go through now, getting ready for office...knowing that all day I ll be asking people to buy my socks.. and be brushed aside rudely by most of them...It somehow doesn't seem worth it. I sometimes wonder what such a job is worth...and fail to come up with an answer.

But, paraphrasing a wise man "It is not what you do..but it is how you do it that counts"..something to think about.

{A nod to all you dirty minds out just struck me...}


Suri said...

it didn't strike me yet !
as always well written. Social Bloggin has got to you!

Prasoon said...

nice to see ya..
so, next mix of culture would be when u land back from US n stay in the same place - amongst the same vendors n waiters n students n all would stay a fluid mech engineer err. a phd doctorate ah?

Mahesh.R said...

Hmmm, maajarly impressed by Bangalore?? But in with risk of sounding like a Grandpa, Bangalore was a much better place when I was in school, there was more activity on roads, not the traffic , but the good kind, with all kids out on the streets playing cricket. I would much rather be pained by children making too much noise on the road than by the constant honknig and pollution that has so become the charecterstic of the city. It was the true Garden City, now it is just a Silicon Jungle....

PS - As you can see, im pretty jobless at office, come online dude.....