Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Oh Bangalore, where art thou headed?

First and foremost, most of the content in this article has been provided by my good friend Abhijith Shetty, a fellow member of RNSIT's famous 'last bench gang'. Next, the image you see here is my T-Shirt, a neat piece of work from Tantra, the brand created by Rajiv Ramchandani and Madan Chabria. At Rs. 295, India on a T-shirt really rocks.

Now, for the story about my dear, dear city. I'm going to skip a few history lessons here and move on to the present day Bangalore; present here refers to the year 1983 onwards (that's when I was born).

Since being founded by Kempe Gowda, Bendakaalooru, or village of boiled beans has come a long way. From being called 'Pensioners Paradise' to 'Garden City' to 'India's Silicon Valley', Bangalore has evolved into a suave, cosmopolitan city to which hoardes of mallus, tams, teluguites and trainloads of north Indians coverge everyday. The city's like one of those neon tube lights that attracts insects in the dark, and here the insects(no disrespect meant, it's just for the effect) are drawn towards the city for its beer, weather, jobs and the babes.

Communicating in Bangalore is fairly simple. People from outside the state may have noticed that to survive in Bangalore you don't need to know excellent Kannada...or for that matter ANY Kannada! This is probably the only city in the world where you'll find people living for 3 or 4 generations and still can't speak the local language. Blame it on the Bangaloreans' over-the-top courteousness I guess! And if you DO speak Kannada, you'll see that people in Bangalore speak a very strange kind of Kannada, where words like 'time', 'bus', 'water', 'air' are all part of the vocab. And as ex-Radio City RJ Priya Ganapathy once said, the killer formula to survive in Bangalore is: English word + 'aa'/'oo' = universal understanding.

If you aren't some egoistical brat with a 'holier-than-thou' attitutde and 'my word is gospel truth' attitude, then if you study in Bangalore for a few years (generally most 'visitors' come for higher education via the CET), you would pick up words like 'machcha', 'maga', 'devaru' and a few superlatives like 'chindi' or 'sakkath'. Abuses are galore and generally those are the first to be picked up, but I'll take a moral highground and not publish those (unless the need arises).

The best line that Bangalore has given to India, that best describes the attitude of every Bangalorean in 'swalpa adjust maadi', or 'kindly make an adjustment'. The usage of this lines cuts across professions and various aspects of the city's life. If you get into a rick in Malleswaram at 9:30 P.M. and the driver asks you for “one-and-half” and if you ask him why…you most definitely will hear “Swalpa adjusht maadi Saar”. If you’re in a bus in Majestic which is so full that you can smell the ear wax of the guy standing in front of you…the conductor pokes you in the spine with his Reynolds pen and says “Swalpa adjusht maadi Saar…Please move forward!”.

As for driving in Bangalore…that’s a whole different story. People around the world drive either on the left side of the road or on the right…,but in Bangalore you drive where there is space! There isn't any 'right side' and 'wrong side'; for people here, there exists only one side: THEIR SIDE. Our auto drivers would put any Mikey Schumacher to shame. These guys armed with their 150 cc Bajaj RE Autos with Shah Rukh Khan portraits and ‘Hai! Manja’ emblazoned on their canvas tops deftly maneuver their 3-wheelers through gaps more efficiently than VVS Laxman's flick through mid-wicket. And if you’re on your bike, beware of projectiles from the mouths of BMTC bus passengers…you wouldn’t want to be smelling of vomit on your graduation day!

All this traffic and dust has stripped Bangalore of the clean air that it was once known for. In fact, scientists have conducted extensive tests and have shown that the average 21-year-old Bangalorean has the lungs of a 60-year-old American chain smoker!!! Well, actually they haven’t, hehehe, but I’m pretty sure someday they will. The only saving grace is that Bangalore is still pretty much the only city with some decent greenery.

As for all the hoopla and hype associated with the city and it’s night life…there are a whole lot of pubs in Bangalore where you can blow 150 bucks of your Dad’s hard-earned money on things that’ll lower your sperm count. And if you decide on hanging out at MG Road or Brigade Road (the most ‘happening’ places in town), here’re are a few rules of thumb-
1> DO NOT speak in any language other than angrezi . If you don’t know English…shut up!
2> Wear your best outfit and your best fake accent.
3> Even if you’ve never inhaled any smoke apart from those of your hostel’s burnt chapathis, at least hold a cigarette…because that’s whats ‘cool’ (a.k.a. stupid) dudes do.
4> Speak loudly about how you ‘laid’ your ‘very hot’ imaginary ‘girlfriend’.
5> Finally, stuff your wallet with visiting cards so that it looks like you have a lot of cash to burn.

(The current trend, however, is the ‘Intellectual Look’, where you are seen in a coffee shop reading a big, fat book on ‘Metaphysical States and Extra-Terrestrial Dimensions in the Time-Space Continuum’ sipping on some hot Cappuchino.)

So what do you have to say about Bangalore? For all the shit it gets from the politicians and certain sections of the Indian hoi polloi (read as non-Karnatakans), she's still the numero uno city in India, irrespective of what people tell you. Take this as gospel truth from a true Bangalorean who's lived here all 23 years of his life (with frequent visits to neighbouring cities during vacations to be able to tell the difference). And as my buddy Abhijith says, "You can argue that Bangalore is a pretty fucked up city, but what the hell, it's MY fucked up city". It's what we call home, and NO ONE messes with our home.


Prashanth(MSP) said...

Who art thou dude?

I did not know our thoughts matched so much!!

I too have a post "Nostalgia of the native" albeit dealing with Bangalore changing in a different manner!!

aady said...

cool stuff.As a die hard bangalorean id say love us hate us but thats the way we are we rock!!!

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