BENGALURU: This must surely be the summer of our discontent, and I am feeling rather sorry for our ceiling fans as they whirr wearily 24/7, doing overtime, as we continue to sweat it out. And to think that once upon a time – when Bangalore was called the Air-Conditioned City – the ceiling fan was more ornamental than functional.
It would hang without much purpose, and would be switched on only to impress guests, almost as a prestige statement, that the family had caught up with the Bombaywallahs... It was last year, when we hunkered down to hibernate through a lockdown summer, the family cosily together, that we realised the discomfort of long hot days and humid nights. Climate change had definitely happened, and it had arrived at the doorstep. And so, after much deliberation and heated debates, we did the unthinkable. Like many other neighbours, we succumbed, willy-nilly, to the pleasures of a cooler flesh – and brought home an AC. Just one, mind you.
And spent quite some time wondering where to fix it so it would benefit the entire household.
Besides keeping us cool, we realise that it strengthens family bonding, as every one piles on in the room, dog and cat included. It has taken on the role of the television set in the days of yore, when the neighbourhood trooped in to bond over Chitrahaar or Buniyaad.
My personal opinion is that it’s almost blasphemous to use an AC in Bengaluru; the city with an in-built coolant and a string of flattering pseudonyms didn’t deserve this. But it was bound to happen. As the city grew wider and taller, packing in more and more, picking up pace and holding out the holy grail, the magic began to wear away. It grew snazzier and richer, hotter and dirtier... leaving the old Bengalurean to sigh, how green was my city, and how cool.
The old folks of Bengaluru, like the archetypal English, make much of the city’s weather. It is a conversation starter, and even a muse. It can change by the hour, and is at its whimsical best in the monsoons. Reams have been written about the climate, the first rain of the season, moody drizzle and the pakoda and piping-hot chai afternoons. But now, it is an inheritance almost lost, a charm having turned upon itself. Fan clubs have mushroomed on social media to keep alive the old dreamy city, and celebrate the spirit of a bygone Bangalore... comforting to know that it’s a shared wistfulness.
We are told, though, that the city is a chart-topper. A recent survey said it ticks all the boxes – climate, economy and people. Friends from other parts of the nation tell us that we are spoiled rotten, and that we should take a short break in their cities to stop cribbing.
And start counting our blessings again.