Friday, October 07, 2011

On Bangalore without any malice

I'm on a 5-day-tour to Bangalore where my daughter, a software engineer, works with an MNC. The city is sprawling, chok-a-bloc with traffic, and like our own Kolkata, is through the process of various developing projects like metro rail. What daunts me here however is its transport system. The auto-rickshaw, which dominates the roads plies on meter, but it charges you 17 rupees for a minimum. But the odd thing is, its drivers mostly don't know about any destination, and they leave you at their choice of place most unscrupulously. On the Dashami day, we boarded an auto, and asked the driver to take us to Banglaore Palace, but he left us at Bangalore Palace ground.The palace was a long way from there, and we had to walk at first for a while and then take another auto for twenty rupees (the earlier auto driver had already taken forty two rupees from us) to reach the Palace.

If I hate seeing anything during a tour, it is the palace of our kings and emperors, besides of course the crumbling temples and God's abodes on different hill tops. But then you hardly have other options if you go on a tour in India. India will force-feed you the myths and exploits of its kings and gods, and if you are like me, you would be lethally bored in a short time.

So in Bangalore palace - and later in Mysore palace on our itinerary - I had the same fare I expected: kings' fascination for elephants, hunting spree, horse race, and so on and so forth. Of course, they lived in great buildings - Goethic architecture, majestic designs, fabulous paintings on the wall ( I liked luscious portraits of female anatomies in different postures, of course). But what is there to learn from them anyway? How do you justify this time sink for such trivial peeks into some grandee's perversions and depravities?

But I felt most cheated at Brindavan Gardens which we visited on our way back from Mysore. Thousands of people - and private cars and transports - had already occupied the spot when we reached in late evening. We had to push through the milling crowds for over half an hour under choking conditions over a bridge to reach the ultimate destination. It was a show of water dancing to the tune of popular music with different sheds of light thrown in every now and then.  The audience shouted with glee each time the sprinkle of water reached its summit.The show lasted three minutes or so, and ended each time with "Sara Jahase achha.." refrain, giving the signal for the crowds to disperse. But another huge crowd surges now, and is all agog for its turn. Nobody complains.So, this is the aam admi Indians - our masses -unchanged, unevolved, who our smug and crrupt politicians nurture them to remain exactly as they are. On our way back, I saw the Cauvery river in its most pathetic state: dried up in  various places, foul smell emerging from its bed, contaminated with plastic, household things, even sanitary napkins. Who cares to dredge up it anyway?

But I have loved Bangalore's weather. When I walk down the road, I feel a breeze rustling my clothes, and it's so caressing. Another thing I've loved really about Bangalore is The Deccan Herald, which I've been  reading just for the third day today, but I'm already addicted to it. It's more substance, and less fluff, but very modern, not in its first page layout, though. Much better than any of our Kolkata newspapers/editions. Yesterday its lead news had this headline: "World without Jobs."


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