The Bangalore I remember nostalgically from the time I stepped down from the airplane in the June of 1970 was a far cry from what it is today. The city has grown by gigantic leaps and bounds and has become very modernised and westernised. Yet, it is a very happening city, boasting of a cosmopolitan milieu of people who, due to the competition, are all running just to stay in the same place.
However, what was Bangalore like, back then? The first thing that struck me then was Bangalore’s salubrious and balmy climate which was no surprise as I had heard that the city is more than 3,000 feet above sea level. Now, however, due to global warming and the influx of greenhouse gases, Bangalore is slowly losing its air-conditioned ambience. I remember the huge sprawling high-ceiling bungalows with adjacent gardens boasting of trees like Jacaranda, Tabebuia, Laburnum, mango and jackfruit. Bangalore, known as the Garden City of India’, had a wealth of the most beautiful flowers, like roses, phloxes, chrysanthemums, and lilies in pastel hues.
My apartment on Aga Abbas Ali Road is in close proximity to Ulsoor Lake. I remember vividly playing games like hide and seek, bang-bang, 7 stones and badminton with the gang of children who unlike now, enjoyed their childhood to the optimum. I remember in those good old days, going to the now defunct theatres and enjoying good classic movies, like Sound of Music, My Fair Lady and Cleopatra. It’s a pity they don’t make movies like that any more, and the multiplexes are not the same as our good old theatres. TV came to Bangalore only in 1980s, so until then, we were hooked to local radio where it was sheer heaven listening to the words and tunes of songs from the Beatles, Abba, Boney M, the Seekers, and Simon and Garfunkel.
In those heady nostalgic never-to-return days, I remember strolling down the much quieter St. Marks Road and then Mahatma Gandhi Road partaking of `fish and chips’ at Koshys, dollops of chocolate ice cream at 'Chit Chat’ (now closed) and savouring cups of steaming hot coffee at India Coffee House (now relocated).
'Blue Fox' was one of the few class eateries I distinctly remember whereas now Bangaloreans are spoilt for choice with the hundreds of restaurants, cafes and pubs.
School had less distractions as there was no computers, e-mail, Facebook, video games, ipads, ipods and mobile phones! Yes, indeed those definitely were `the good old days’ now forever `gone with the wind’!
(The writer resides near Ulsoor Lake)