Garbage was a recurring topic at literature festival’s ‘Bangalore/ Bengaluru: Multiple City?’

The city’s garbage may not be reaching the landfills, but it certainly reached the Bangalore Literature Festival. Garbage on the city’s roads was a recurring topic during the discussion on “Bangalore/ Bengaluru: Multiple City?” at the literature festival here on Sunday. Author and columnist Shobhaa De, who was one of the panellists, even remarked: “It seems Bangalore is a garbage obsessed city; it seems to be on top of everybody’s mind.”

The discussion, moderated by V. Ravichander from City Connect, touched upon various identities of Bangalore. Litterateur and Jnanpith award winner U.R. Ananthamurthy, while explaining the rationale behind his suggestion to rechristen the city as Bengaluru, said that he did not do it for the sake of identity for the city.

“I suggested that the city should be renamed with what is used by the common man. Kannada language has a genius; adding a “oo/u” to any word will make it a Kannada word. Table becomes ‘table-u’, chair becomes ‘chair-u’… Also, when I have learnt to say New York or San Francisco, why cannot foreigners learn to say ‘Bengaluru’?” he asked.

He said that the city’s identity was Kannada, it was “about being joyous and making room for other languages”.

“English will be alive everywhere, but Kannada will be alive only in Karnataka. However, while identity is important, generosity is more important,” he said. He also said that Kannada was an inclusive and receptive language, unlike other languages.

When the topic veered towards infrastructure, he said, “You love a city when you can walk lazily through the whole city… with open eyes and ears. Here (in Bangalore), you can walk with only your eyes open, ears become deaf with the noise around.”

He stressed the need for more cycle tracks and wished that Bangalore became a city where “children and old people can cross the road easily”.

Ms. De stated that she was glad to be participating in a literature festival and “not a literature circus or carnival”. She said that though the city had changed over the past 30 years since she has been visiting, the people had not. She also said that “we were living in global, competitive time. We should not compromise on who we are.”

Responding to Dr. Ananthamurthy’s statement that one must celebrate the diversity of languages and that languages were not divisive, she said that that the politics behind languages were divisive. She said that Bangalore for her will bring memories of “bisi bele bath… tasty, full of flavour... a true democratic dish that every household here will cook with pride”.

‘Large idea’

The former Infosys director T.V. Mohandas Pai said that for him, Bangalore was a “large idea, both multiple and eclectic”.

“There is a Bangalore for everyone, including immigrants and expatriates. The challenge is to allow each one of these identities to grow,” he said.

Theatre person Prakash Belvadi termed the city as a “work in progress” and said that Bangalore is a city built by Indians, unlike other major cities that were built by the British.

“We are making mistakes. But we will not give up, neither will the city ever allow a Bal Thackeray-like person to be born here,” he said.

Ms. De quickly quipped, “No, but you can get beaten up if you are a woman and at a pub.”

Dr. Ananthamurthy and other panellists condemned the attack on a theatre person here recently.

“This moral policing is a new phenomenon. It is the doing of extreme right wing such as Sri Rama Sene and Bajrang Dal. In Mangalore, a reporter was arrested along with hooligans who attacked a group of men and women,” he said.

He had a word of advice for Bangaloreans, “If you have the courage, you must stand up against these right wing elements.”

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