The television channels on Saturday had nothing else to fill airtime but the bandh. When that got monotonous after the first few hours, they decided to intersperse it with songs on the Cauvery and Kannada, chosen from films down the ages. This came in handy, particularly when they aired sound bites from film stars.
For instance, when Bharathi Vishnuvardhan spoke, it was promptly followed by “Kannada naadina jeevanadi Kaveri…” the song from Jeevanadi featuring her husband. Before actor Ambareesh spoke, the song from Tumbida Mane, “Kaveri hariva naadu…”, was played. Other favourites included “Kodagina Kaveri…” from Sharapanjara, “Kaveramma kaapadamma…” from Solillada Saradaara and “Paapa kaleyuttale Kaveri taayi…” from Bevu Bella.
Yet another channel telecast Upendra’s HO, a celluloid take on the Cauvery dispute during the height of the controversy in 2002 with Upendra and Prabhudeva in the lead.
There was much happening off screen too. Ambareesh, who led the agitation by film artistes in Bangalore, had plenty of witty dialogues up his sleeve. Citing an old story about a curse on Mysore and its kings that is believed to have rendered Talakadu barren and the rulers of the region childless, he said there was perhaps a curse related to the Cauvery too. “It looks like we have also been cursed with an eternal dispute over the Cauvery,” he said, with a pinch of pathos in his voice.
An excuse to clean
Across the city, one saw citizens using the occasion to go on a cleaning spree. Shaila N. (28), owner of the tea stall near the Visvesvaraya Museum, said she supported the bandh but thought this was an opportunity to spring-clean her shop. Her turnover is around Rs. 3,000 a day and though the bandh is a loss for her, she was happy to give her place a facelift.
Another group of auto drivers in Channammanakere Achukattu in Banashankari III Stage were seen giving a thorough wash to their vehicles in what looked like a happy community ritual.
A joyride it was!
Those of us who have lived long enough in Bangalore might have faint memories of a time when J.C. Road and Lalbagh Road were not one-way. So the bandh was a nostalgia trip as bike riders — mostly without helmets — flouted all traffic norms to go the opposite way on these roads. There were no traffic lights and no speed limits either, with some young boys indulging in what looked like an effort to break the sound barrier. No incessant horns, bumper-to-bumper traffic, interminable wait at signals… Just pure joy!
The ubiquitous flag
The yellow and red Kannada flag was ubiquitous across the city. All vehicles that ventured out sported the pennant. Similarly, all large showrooms and shops — particularly those with glass window panes — had installed it, perhaps perceived as an insurance against possible trouble. Interestingly, these flags were prominent in shops and even homes in areas with large Tamil-speaking populations. But as a taxi driver at Majestic Railway station, who conceded he was using the flag to declare his ‘loyalty’, said, it doesn’t always work. “My friend’s taxi was targeted despite the flag.”