I am witness to the growth of Bangalore since 1944. It has undergone a sea change since then and now bears the characteristics of a cosmopolitan city.
The old extensions were known for their serenity and good sanitation systems. Ten thousand gallons of water, free of cost, was allowed by the water board for the upkeep of sanitation. Bangalore bus service known as B T C (Bangalore Transport Company) and later B T S (Bangalore Transport Service) ferried people rendering courteous service.
Bangalore Cantonment area and Bangalore City area had their own outlook. Screening of English movies was confined to Bangalore Cantonment. Whereas, screening of south Indian language films was confined to Bangalore City area. Theatres Plaza, Liberty, Rex, Imperial and BRV in Cantonment area and Prabhat, States, Jaihind, Sagar, Kalpana, Alankar, Majestic, Geetha, Himalaya, Movieland have all made history for various factors.
Regulation of traffic by the police was the best. Police mounted on horses was not a rarity. Restaurants catered conventional food of best quality and taste, each with a signature dish. Vishnu Bhavan for bread toast and chapatti, Udupi Srikrishna Bhavan for poori sagu and shavige kheer, Malabar Lodge for kesari bath, idly and vada. In Cantonment area, Koshys was known for vada sambar and dosa, Nilgiris was known for bun and butter, Indian Coffee House was known for vegetable and mutton Cutlets, 3-Aces was known for espresso coffee. Koshys entertained customers with a jukebox. Gaylord and Napoli had dance floors. Lake View and Chit Chat, both ice cream parlours, were rendezvous points for lovers. Snake charmers and performing folk artistes entertained people on the streets. The Congress exhibition and circus were the seasonal entertainment hubs of Bangaloreans. Convenience foods were unheard of. Homemakers were keen on preparing hygienic food of high nutritional value. Hence, people were in the pink of their health. In the parks people were entertained by music. Civil tort and road rage were uncommon.
In contrast, Bangalore now is a haphazard irregular city with no plan for smooth flow of traffic and clean air top breathe. Potable water is unavailable and there is erratic supply of water. Frequent strikes cause hardship to people besides loss of public property. Posters, buntings and banners litter the roads. Vehicles seized by the police for various offences were piled up on the streets at prime places making it look like a junkyard. The beauty of Bangalore has been marred and restoration is a Herculean task. Malls have sprung up like mushrooms and have become places for marathon spending.
Though Bangalore has attained fame as an international city, it is bracketed with highly polluted cities in the world too.
The positives of Bangalore cannot be ignored. Multi-speciality hospitals have opened doors not only for Indians but also for foreigners. Thus, Bangalore has become a hub for medical tourism. Likewise, educational institutions of great repute established in Bangalore have attracted students from all over.
(The writer is a resident of Nandini Layout)
Plethora of cuisines
Badly maintained roads and potholes
Encroachment of sidewalks
Neglect and ill-maintained public places