The thrill a passenger from Madras experienced the moment he alighted sleepily from the Bangalore Mail at the Bangalore cantonment station decades ago was mainly from the fetching fragrance of champangi flowers and secondly from the gust of chilly air—a refreshing change from the debilitating heat wave of Madras. Though his teeth telegraphed a weather report of chillness encrypted in Morse code, he wouldn’t dip into his bags to fish out a sweater as the attire was unheard of at Madras that had four variations in seasons—summer, summer, summer and summer.
A must-do task soon after he had comfortably settled at his hospitable host’s residence in Banshankari, Basavangudi, or such would be to telephone his wife home. “Paru (or Janu or Meenu), I feel guilty enjoying this salubrious English weather when you would be roasted mercilessly like coffee seeds,” he would apologise guiltily if he were an empathetic hubby. “Just imagine. I am wearing a chocolate brown sleeveless woollen sweater, a handwoven beauty temporarily lent by my benign host, God bless him. You should see me in it. I look like Dev Anand.”
Having quelled the twinge of conscience, he’d leg it to the open space, partly to air and flaunt the borrowed apparel that would smell in parts of naphthalene balls, flower dust and tightly shut wooden cupboards. It might be Ulsoor lake bund, Cubbon Park or any other tree-lined avenue, never mind the time even if it be noon, when in Madras only salivating mad dogs would venture out. His celebration would necessarily include a hot cuppa at India Coffee House on MG Road staffed by turbaned waiters in cummerbunds or at the Mavalli Tiffin Room where the heavenly brew is taken piping hot (after a plate of chow-chow bath) in silver tumblers and dabaras. Or if he were an anglicised gentleman who enjoyed a pre-lunch tipple, he’d wet his whistle at the nearest bar with a mug of chilled beer, a luxury denied in Madras in pre-Tasmac days.
Now the scene is different. Mother Nature has angrily switched off the air conditioning facility installed free upon the garden city. Window and split airconditioning contraptions have sprung up instead. The tall canopies of trees have been replaced by taller concrete towers and malls. The Silicon city is enveloped with a mixture of carbon monoxide and other noxious fumes emitted by vehicles mostly driven by software and hardware techies tirelessly commuting to compute.
The erstwhile dhoti-clad Bangalorean in an insulation of a well worn coat waiting with monumental patience for his ramshackle bus with a tightly rolled umbrella for three quarters of an hour and getting off from it at the very next stop after a ride of few minutes is absent. Instead, the present-day Bangalorean gets into Baiyappanahalli station proudly and gets off at Swami Vivekananda Road after a short ride in the gleaming Namma Metro rail. Indeed, life in Bengaluru moves on taking everything in its stride.