BENGALURU: No, guys, Bengaluru is not just about its weather and traffic. Though, when it comes to finding ways to characterise the city, we can proudly say we are a step ahead of the British, since there’s more than just weather that we can strike a conversation about. There are, however, so many mundane features which make this city a fascinating place that moping over congested roads or gloating over the breezy mornings soon begins to seem like a waste of experience.
On top of my list of things that make Bengaluru unlike most Indian cities is – no, not the huge trees towering over roads, or the colourful stalls selling flower strings, though they are no less awe-inspiring, but those who buy the buds to adorn their hair every morning. And those who sell them. The sheer size of the women workforce is impressive in the city. It’s not surprising that this is one of the first things that strikes people when they arrive here. And for good reason.
There may only be a few other places in the country that can claim the crown when it comes to having women in jobs that involve interaction with the public (read, men).
Here, they are everywhere, managing parking lots, operating petrol pumps, issuing bus tickets, waitressing at pubs thronged by men and women equally, selling merchandise at big malls and hole-in-the-wall kiosks. Few lewd comments, unwelcome stares or macho arguments come their way as they quietly, and efficiently, go about carrying out their duties. The women workers’ presence is so pervasive that it doesn’t take long for you to start seeing them as, what they essentially are, humans.
However, for some yet-unexplained reason –opinions welcome – one place where I am yet to come across women are the tiny inconspicuous juice shops that dot almost every corner of a market. And that brings us to these modest places that sell possibly the widest varieties of juices and milkshakes, often paired with sandwiches, available in the country.
For someone brought up to believe that milk doesn’t ‘go well’ with certain fruits, it was a revelation to sip milk whisked with papaya or plums, and love it, and have aunties proven wrong that it may upset tummy. Also proven wrong by the city stands the common belief that juices from ‘outside’ should be avoided in summer. Bengalureans across ages, professions and modes of transport can be seen gulping down a glass or two at any time of the day throughout the year.
And then there are the fruits themselves. Available in heaps on roadsides and tempos, and neatly lined rows in fancy department stores (which are in themselves a thing to talk about!), they are not restricted to the humble orange and banana. Even the glory of the pomegranate fades in this city, mounted as it is alongside the avocado. The nonchalant manner in which the butter-fruit – still considered exotic in most parts of the country – is treated here speaks volumes about the little big things we get to enjoy in the city. Which brings us to the weather.