Faz and I spent this past weekend zipping from one part of the city to another, working our way through the innumerous To-Do lists we had. And as we tripped over uneven pavements, darted through traffic, got stuck in slow-moving jams, jumped signals (inadvertently not intentionally!), got jugged for illegal parking and generally got honked at by motorists who really should have known better, I couldn't help but feel like we almost found the Bangalore we had lost. Almost, but not quite.
Ever since Bangalore arrived (with a bang!), exploding onto national and international awareness as the IT Capital of India, my personal opinion has been that the city has gone to the dogs. Oh, wait, correct that....even the dogs probably don't want anything to do with it. And the prime culprits have been the unimaginable growth in the city's populace (courtesy massive influx from here, there and the back of beyond), corresponding exponential increase in pollution and decrease in the green spaces that were Bangalore's pride, abysmal lack of infrastructure or public facilities and sky-rocketing costs of living (also known as barely-hanging-on-by-your-fingernails).
No more peaceful residential layouts, what with every other building being turned into a commercial "enterprise" of some sort or the other ; no more blissful Bangalore weather, though it is still better here than in most cities in India ; no more after-work drives down to City Center (read MGs, Brigades, St.Marks, Comm Street and thereabouts) for a saunter and bandi-eating ; no more veggie shopping at Russel Market ; no more lazy weekend mornings at Koshy's, watching the world go by ; no more quiet reading at British Library followed by aimless drives through random areas; no more night shows in town in the middle of the work week ; no more mid-week concerts at Chowdiah Hall ; no more Vasantahabba ; no more sense of pride in Namma Bengaluru.
Life has, over the past 6 years, metamorphosed into something unrecognizable for an old Bangalorean (even for a relatively new Bangalorean!), and the infinite traffic snarls, noise, crowds, increasing road-rage, lack of courtesy, common-sense and plain civic sense makes this something to run from. And over the past 6 years, we have both forgotten why we came here in the first place.
However, for a few moments this weekend, as we walked hand-in-hand through the bustle of Avenue Road and BVK Iyengar Road, met with old-timers at stores that have been doing business for ever and a day, joked with sales boys and girls in the Marthahalli Factory outlets, haggled with fruit sellers on bicycles, ate pani-puri at roadside corners, and shoveled scrambled-eggs-on-toast with cold coffee at India Coffee House, we saw glimmers of the place Bangalore had been and of Life as we had known it.
Of a Life that had time for everyone, and everything, where a smile and a bit of a chat with a nameless stranger had no strings attached, where slow satisfaction carried more importance than instant gratification.