Since some time now, an unclouded realization had been dawning more brightly on me - that I hadn’t really given Bangalore a fair chance to be known to me and had unduly discounted it off.
Insensitive, conclusive and naive. Ouch. Sorry, Bangalore.
When I finally faced the truth in the face, I knew amends had to be made. But I didn’t know how. What could I do, after calling this city home for 15 months, to redeem myself in this relationship?
I still hadn’t got a workable answer, when on the morning of an unexpected mid-week holiday while I had consigned myself to a day of laze-at-home bliss and was taking a bath early in the afternoon, that it struck me like lightning.
I continued the trend, and just like lightning readied myself to step out with my trusty backpack clinging. Each step was upbeat and the sunshine too, felt like it belonged to me.
I’d decided to do what I’d adopted some years ago in a desperate effort to see the city I’d lived in for five years and yet knew so less about - Bus-Hop!
The arrangement is simple:
- Board the first bus you see.
- Take a ticket for the “last stop”; don’t ask which is the last stop.
- Try your best to catch a window seat.
- Preferably, for me, in the middle of the bus.
- If some stop appeals to you even before the last stop shows up, get off!
- Walk as much as you can between any two buses.
- Don’t waste too much time eating; if required, stick to street-side offerings.
- Do not give in to the urge to take an auto/taxi.
- Lastly, and most importantly - do NOT plan, do NOT think.
I decided to romance Bangalore for whatever time remained of that day, to see it like I had never before. To think not, to judge not, but to just step back and walk with it; as a part of it, yet seeing it from a stranger’s eyes.
The buses carried me to places the names of which I couldn’t even pronounce, forget remember. It showed me glimpses of this city which I wouldn’t have gone to for years. I met and observed people who didn’t understand the languages I know, but they helped me and guided me even better than many who usually do. I realized Bangalore has more malls than I’d ever imagined, more McDonalds than should be. I walked till I lost my way, asked for help, and got away with it. I discovered new directions to the places I already knew.
I confessed that if I could ignore the signboards in the local language, the difference between this city and many others I’ve seen, gets quite blurred.
After walking more than 17 kms and changing 8 buses, I believe I experienced more of Bangalore that day than any other day. We exchanged glances, whispers and giggles. We became better friends.
Try it out - who knows where the wind might take you. :)
A walk to remember
When i shut shop at work today, i left with a feeling that it was going to be a good walk home. But i was not prepared for the surreal kindness the evening held in store for me.
Before the non-walled world cast its spell, UB City (the mall below my office building) was flooded with art; left, right, centre. And everywhere else. Oils on canvas or acrylic or both or mixed media or pencil on paper or impressions on canvas by a 4-year old - the whole place was draped in such creations. And it provided me the much needed immersion in a space unbound and pregnant with expression.
After covering every inch, every stroke, i stepped out.
It took me a moment to catch my breath as my eyes absorbed the sheer magical dance the world outside was gripped in.
My pace kept falling and soon i just stood & watched the rain…the drops, in the blanket of the yellowy streetlights, fell like snow; silent & soft.
The wet road was aglow with colours from the vehicle’s lights; mixing, merging.
And oh the trees…
My head turned towards the firmament and it was beyond words. So heavenly..like time too stood next to me and surrendered to the sight. Endless drops…the drops they looked like made of gold..falling through the black abyss.
They landed on my face & bewitched me.
As i walked further, i saw ladies’ cycle slanting against a wall. I stood and looked at it as it reminded me of one of mine. That’s when its owner turned up - the sassy young teenage girl:
Me: I had one similar to this.
Sassy girl: *smiles broadly* You can take a ride if you want?
Me: Thanks! But i’ll pass for now. Have to get home.
Sassy girl: Which way are you headed?
Me: *pointing* That side.
Sassy girl: Come then i’ll give you a double-ride till the road’s end! *pulling up her cycle and readying it to mount*
Me: Are you sure? I’m not as light as i look!
Sassy girl: Let’s try, shall we?
And so i perched myself happily on the pillion seat as she paddled, gradually picking up speed and ease.
Sundry details were exchanged but i was busier grinning like an idiot and opening my mouth to let the raindrops in.
End point reached, a heartfelt thank you conveyed and i ambled along towards home, the world completely enrapturing… *pinches self*..nope, still as enchanting..
One of the very first places in Bangalore which i explored for food is The Egg Factory. I never stopped going after that. Nor stopped introducing new people to it.
Let me make it clear - i’m a big time egg lover. I can have it everyday in any form. I concur with my mom who once thought that a breakfast without eggs is no breakfast. (before you ask, yes i’ve already brought her here).
In fact, i like this place so much that i had my first breakfast of this year gorging on their eggilicious fare.
May the Factory always stay eggy.
It was one of those days when I ended up doing anything but what I set out to do. I gathered myself to visit Bangalore’s Alliance Fracaise (henceforth to be referred as A) and spend a quiet, thoughtful and if lucky, an arty afternoon. Lunch was tagged to be had at A’s café (if Delhi and Chandigarh ones are anything to go by, it’s a pretty good tag). I stuffed my bag with my writing diary and some other companions.
Now, I had washed some clothes earlier in the day and thanks to the unduly dull sun that day and chances of rain, I had to keep my venture on hold till they dried – delay no.1
Soon I found myself standing on the pavement corner waiting for a kind-hearted Auto driver to shower his kindness upon me (read take me to my destination by the meter) - delay no.2. My friend, Prema, stood next to me, chatting inconsequential, Saturday stuff. Within a heartbeat she skipped a step and fell on the road; within a heartbeat i saw her bruised feet and hands. She was trembling and refused to budge even from her fallen spot. After convincing her to move to a safer spot, i rushed back home to get all the medical aid i had - delay no.3
Once assured that she was smiling again and healed, i resumed my auto hunt. Got my prey i did and i reached A. Only to find it closed; and the prey out of my hands again. I knew nothing about the area so made a spur of the moment decision to go to Indiranagar (let’s call it B from now onwards) to get myself a new canvas to go wild on and to fill my now complaining tummy.
A wasn’t the only unfamiliar area i travelled to that day, so was B! This auto guy was kind but mischievous and dropped me in middle of what they call “100 ft road”. If only it actually lived up to its name. It seemed like an endless ribbon to me: 1. On which i had no clue where i was 2. No clue where i had to find the Staples store or the restaurant i had decided to eat at (lets call that C) 3. My energy levels were dropping and i needed food, immediately. In case you didn’t realize, that’s the delay no. 4, 5 and 6.
I walked. And walked. And walked some more. Till i gave up on both Staples and C and decided to eat at the next good place my eyes spotted. So, i have this fetish for black+yellow+white - and it beckoned me to this place i’d never heard of: California Pizza Kitchen (CPK). In i went, flopped on the chair and ordered the quickest thing they could whip up, a salad (a really big bowl that. CPK is one generous place). One spoonful into my mouth and i knew this was my moment of serendipity. It was just too good, to be true! I looked out the window and saw the sun shining on the red Gulmohars lighting up the season. I took another spoonful, and the traffic blurred while the music playing tuned up. Another one and i was totally gone. Who on earth makes such fabulous salad!!
Talk about a salad being perfectly tosses, garnished, crisped, and healthied
But, the best was yet to come…
I asked for their desserts’ menu and the choices told me something had to be ordered (ignore your almost filled tummy, its just playing spoilsport). They got my gluttony self a Red Velvet Cake with Vanilla Bean Cream. One look and i was breathless. It looked exquisite! And as big as my whole darn hand (only your grandmoms give you cake slices that big, i used to think). I took a bite…and well..the last i checked i was in Bangalore, by then i wasn’t too sure if i’d been teleported to heaven..
Isn’t it just gorgeous? *sigh*
Bubbling in spirit by then, i geared up for the Staples’ search. I succumbed to the cliched google search, only to discover that they have another branch. In Bangalore. Within a 2kms radius of my house. I couldn’t believe it. With trembling hands, i dialed the given number to confirm if they had what i was looking for. “Yes ma’am” and my serendipitous moment # 2 just hit me.
With a grin like that of a 7 years old who’s just got back from Disneyland, i stepped out of CPK, into the dying sun on a day which gave me not what i wanted, but what i needed.
Pran Kumar Sharma - the Walt Disney of India
February this year, i had the chance to hear this genius speak 20m away from me at the TEDx event conducted by SIBM Bangalore. It was a mix of thrill and awe as he drew a cartoon of the legendary Chacha Chaudhary, right there on stage while the audience watched in hush excitement.
The “brain-faster-than-computer” phrase is fresh in my mind till date and also the sheer simplcity yet engagement that this man’s characters and storylines created. From Pinki and Biloo to Channi Chachi - the indianness he added to the comics’ scene still remains a watershed act. In a time when most newspapers ran old reprints of Phantom and Superman, Pran came along and turned the tables. In his own words, he created a character that any common Indian could relate to. A superhero in his own right, but all due to brain, not brawn. Nor was this superhero handsome, tall or bulging with muscles. His trademark red pagdi and the lush mustache is an evergreen symbolism. The Comic man with the magic wand - may many more dare to disrupt.
And it was all yellow…
When i wore its colour, the yellow of the city lights swallowed me in its cacophony and allowed me to swim through it as one of its own.
Taken by a friend in Bangalore, India.