Maya Jayapal, Girish Karnad and Shashi Deshpande livened up the evening at the launch of Jayapal’s book Bangalore: Roots and Beyond

At the launch, at Oxford Bookstore, of Maya Jayapal’s book Bangalore: Roots and Beyond, the emcee, a young, vivacious girl, with refreshing honesty said: “This book is wonderful. Many youngsters like me know only of Commercial Street.” Shashi Deshpande, the guest of honour, agreed and observed how we have to come to live in isolated worlds within the city. “We know of only our areas.”

The book made her contemplate on what it means to be a Bangalorean. “I thought Bangalore is a bland city, but I forgot about the ‘was’ that took place. The Mughals, Marathas and the kings of Bijapur all came here. For me, the book taught me to look at the insider-outsider view. I have lived in Bangalore for 50 years. I feel a growl in my throat when people, who have lived here for four years, call themselves Bangaloreans. But it’s not how long you have stayed in the city that matters, it’s how you deal with the city. Everyone can possess a city through love. Bangalore belongs to every community who have lived here, loved here, belonged here,” she said to applause.

The coffee table book brings alive the city in all its grandeur: its past, myths and memories. Speaking of what led her to write the book, Jayapal said: “First of all, I was asked to write it. I am comfortable with this genre, writing about the history of the place, the description of monuments and the communities that make up the city. I believe Bangalore has been tolerant, which has been stretched to a limit, and extremely hospitable.”

Jayapal, a writer, teacher, columnist and counsellor, spoke of her love for the city that has grown stronger with time. She authored an earlier book on the city, titled Bangalore: The Story of A City. “I have led a nomadic life. My father and husband have moved around throughout the country. I went to six schools, three colleges and moved 18 times. I came to study in Bangalore in 1955. I decided to finally put down roots here in 1993.”

The book entailed intensive research and is laced with nostalgia. “I knocked on doors, made the necessary telephone calls. Putting the book together has helped me feel a part of Bangalore. I hope everybody will get to know a little bit about the past. I have written the book with rose-tinted glasses. It’s time we recognised the finer aspects of the city, we have enough of the Cassandras grumbling ad nauseam about the traffic and garbage.”

Girish Karnad was a star at the launch. The audience hung onto every word he said. He praised the book saying, “It’s a beautiful book on Bangalore, with beautiful illustrations. Even UB City Mall, which is one of the ugliest malls in the world, looks beautiful in the book. ”

Karnad spoke then of his issue with the Bangalore International Airport being named after Kempegowda. “It has been wrongly named after Kempegowda, what is he? A footling. The airport should have been named after Tipu Sultan, one of the greatest Kannadiga politicians,” said Karnad at the launch, adding, “I hope the newspapers will publish this.”

Bangalore: Roots and Beyond is a Niyogi books publication.