I’m a proud Kannadathi who grew up in Mumbai. I cherish my childhood memories of summers spent in Bengaluru. Our yearly trip to Ajjimane (grandmother’s house) was something to look forward to. Our hearts would fill with joy when we reached Bangalore station - nammoora nildana, sundara taana!
We breathed in Bengaluru’s jasmine-scented air. We wandered its leafy lanes, enjoying its salubrious climate, its lush green parks, hot badam milk at Gandhi Bazaar. Bengaluru was a veritable paradise. We’d endlessly brag about namma ooru to our pals back in hot and humid Mumbai.
Our Ajji lived in N R Colony. I still remember hiring a cycle from Naga’s shop for 50 paise every day and going around Basavanagudi. Dodda Ganesha temple was a pit stop. Ramakrishna Ashram was a haven of peace.
I can still taste Ajji’s kai tuuttanna, as we grandchildren sat around her. Even five-star cuisines are no match for it. And ah, the jokes our doddappa, the famous humourist and writer Nadiger Krishnarao, cracked. He would have us in splits.
Our pleasures were simple then. Going to the Congress exhibition with a battalion of cousins and getting photographed on the cardboard moon was the highlight of our vacation. There were no traffic jams, malls and multiplexes then. Gang rapes, spate of suicides and dengue deaths were unheard of.
I now live in my beloved Bengaluru. But oh, where has the joy vanished? I’m scared to travel in an autorikshaw now. The traffic is so terrible that I worry for my family members until they return home from work.
Yes, Bengaluru has developed at a breathtaking pace. It has become an IT hub.
But, we have no footpaths. Even roads are occupied by food stalls and parked bikes. Flies buzz around piles of garbage everywhere.
There are many positives, too. Bengaluru is now a cosmopolitan city with people from all over India working and living together. It has provided employment to lakhs of people. It has become a younger city. I feel heartened when I see women zooming away on their bikes to work.
“Kindly adjust” was always the motto of mild-mannered Kannadigas. And now with the city becoming a melting pot of cultures, we’ve become even more tolerant and that’s a good sign.
(The writer is a resident of JP Nagar)