Benda Kaalu Ooru has undergone phenomenal changes over the years. From a small town, it grew into Bangalore city which is now been rechristened Bengaluru. Being one of the fastest growing metropolitan cities of the world, it has also become the silicon valley of India, its high-tech capital, a science city and a fashion city. It can hardly be associated with its earlier title Pensioners’ Paradise, but has instead been nicknamed Pub City of India.
Being born and brought up here, this city, of course, is dear to me. My father was an employee at ITI Limited, India’s first public sector company established in Bangalore. That was the time when PSUs like HAL, HMT, BEML, and BEL and several defence organisations like LRDE, ADE and ISRO had a strong presence. Employment opportunities at these organisations attracted many migrants.
Bangalore has always been home to many recognised educational and research institutions. It would be appropriate to say that these formed the foundation for the establishment and growth of IT industries, which have marked Bangalore on the world map.
I was a resident of Vijayanagar (called Hosahalli then) for nearly three decades. In the 1960s, Vijayanagar was considered a far end of Bangalore. It was full of fields and empty lands. Roads had not been asphalted. We had to walk a mile to take a bus, and BTS (Bangalore Transport Service) buses were the only mode of transport.
Now, those fields and empty spaces have turned into a concrete jungle. Today, the area is bustling with commercial activity and heavy traffic. For the past two decades, I have been living in New Thippasandra, HAL III stage. The population here has grown manifold with the arrival of Bagmane Tech Park in the neighborhood. The cost of real estate and rentals have spiralled. The once calm and serene locality has become busy and commercial.
Unlike children of today, we didn’t have TVs, computers, video games or Xboxes. We were happy to cycle and play various outdoor and indoor games. We couldn’t have imagined using the Internet, Facebook, Twitter or smart phones, but our communication with our relatives and neighbours was almost flawless. Everyone knew each other in the neighbourhood, and people were always willing to help in times of trouble and share selflessly. Festivals meant sending over special dishes to neighbours. We used to get obbattu for Ugadi, kadubus for Ganesha Chaturthi and biriyani for Ramzan. During Christmas, it was our turn to share cake, rose cookies and kalkals. Today, we don’t have time to even say ‘Hello’ to our neighbours, often we are not even acquainted with them.
When I see my kids carrying loads of books, struggling with homework and peer pressure, my mind travels back to my school days when we were better off. In those days schools vans were not common, so we had to either cycle or take a bus to school.
I remember standing in queue with our parents to board buses at Majestic bus stand (on Tank Bund Road, not the current Kempegowda Bus Station). There were double deckers and trailer buses called ‘road train’ those days. People were patient and orderly. Nowadays, all these virtues have been thrown to the winds. There is a mad rush to board buses with little concern for the aged, women and children. Earlier, vehicular traffic was meagre and there were hardly any cases of traffic violations or accidents. Now violating traffic signals, speeding, driving on the wrong side of one-ways and riding two-wheelers on footpaths are all too common. Road rage has become the order of the day.
However, Bangaloreans have remained warm, friendly and hospitable. They make newcomers feel at home and comfortable. This is one of the primary reasons for the increasing population of Bangalore, apart from its pleasant climate, education and employment opportunities.
I have visited other cities in India and have travelled overseas. With all its traffic and infrastructural woes, I would unhesitatingly say, “East or west, Bangalore is the best.”
(The writer is a resident of New Thippasandra.)