Do I like Bangalore?
Hmmm, I have to think about that one.
I used to love it. Especially, when I first arrived here about twenty years ago, even though I didn’t know a soul. Everyone was friendly and warm and the streets were empty and cool.
I remember getting lost in Malleswaram (where my family is from) with my son Stefan. Some kindly stranger recognised me on account of the family resemblance I guess and said, “Oh you’re Professor Natrajan’s grand-daughter aren’t you,” leading me and Stef safely back home.
Stef wasn’t surprised. I always get lost. I’m directionally challenged and even left and right are hard for me to figure out in a hurry. In America, where I used to drive, Stef would wait for me to drive down the block before asking, “Mommy, are we lost yet?”
I stopped driving in Bangalore because I didn’t know how to operate a stick shift. Stef was happy, the auto rickshaw guys knew where they were going. Mostly.
Bangalore was lovely back then.
Shortly thereafter it went through a bad phase, in my opinion. It got way crowded, there was too much traffic, getting furious on the roads was the rage, buildings were being constructed just about everywhere and as a result all sorts of strangers arrived here. There was just too much pollution.
(As a positive aside, the pollution probably killed off the parthenium that caused my asthma as a child and I stopped wheezing. It’s been many years since I landed up at the hospital in the middle of the night looking for the nebulizer.)
I stopped going out. So I stopped making new friends. I didn’t know how food tasted in the new restaurants around town and I didn’t know who was doing what with whom and how they felt about it. I didn’t go to parties (well that’s mostly because I’m conserving my voice to be able to sing, and parties, well people at parties expect you to talk and laugh and carouse loudly, all of which is very bad for the throat) and I didn’t go to launches. Do they still launch things, I wondered. Or has everything taken off already?
It was all too stressful. I was beginning to loathe being here in this wilting garden city where the lakes stank and the garbage was piling up.
And then something really nice happened. It happened all around the world, almost simultaneously, but it made a big impact on me, in Bangalore.
Suddenly, I found myself at home on my couch, with a lovely view of my green garden, able to talk to a bunch of people whom I’d lost touch with for a while.
I discovered new people to be friends with. I found out about all the exciting things that were happening around town and even if I didn’t want to go to them, I could see pictures. I could join groups of people interested in the same things I was, and life was suddenly all rosy and pink.
‘It’ of course is Facebook, and it’s made living in Bangalore bearable once again.
Do I like Bangalore?