Fraser Town (or Mootocherry as it was called till 1858) has managed to retain some of it its indolent air and passion fruit trees, even after the real estate boom caught up with Bangalore East, obliterating some of the original characteristics.
It was built to resemble an idyllic English borough with ‘squares’, monkey top bungalows and conservancy lanes. Its new name Pulikeshinagar doesn’t always ring a bell with either local residents or autorickshaw drivers.
But, the memories are alive and well in aPaulogy, a ‘Gallery of Curious Memories’ near Richards Park.
Owned by well-known cartoonist and illustrator Paul Fernandes, aPaulogy is a must visit when in the area. It showcases an quirky Cantonment culture through tongue-in-cheek watercolours, line illustrations and shine boards that have had Bangaloreans chuckling for years.
The Fraser Town of Paul’s childhood was an indolent neighbourhood with a skyline dominated by St. Xavier’s Cathedral and St. John’s Church, the ‘Sigapoo Oosimatha Koil or Red Church’ as it was called.
A Coca-Cola could be bought for 70 paise at AM Café, one of three on Mosque Road. The journey back to the 70s and 80s begins at the window, where a moustached policeman of yore stands scowling in his famous starched khaki shorts. Inside the brightly lit studio gallery are detailed watercolours with famous city landmarks and endearing characters as well as familiar vignettes from Fraser Town itself: a traffic jam at the Fraser Town underbridge; Everest Talkies that showed only English films till not too long ago; Dewar’s Bar with its ‘veshti’ clad waiters, and Thom’s Bakery on Wheeler Road that stocked the most wonderful Christmas kulkuls in town.
“There were only 12 houses with large gardens around Richards Square so we all knew each other and met nearly every day. The Bangalore East Railway Station had engine drivers who became friends. We got grease from the engines for our bicycles when they stopped here.
It was a peaceful, happy, tree-filled area that influenced not only my life and work but everyone who lived here.”
The glimmer of an aPaulogy began over six years ago when Paul’s own home nearby gave way to an apartment building.
“You could see the loss in terms of sheer beauty and aesthetics and that it really wasn’t a better thing. I decided it was worthwhile trying to record memories rather than architecture.”
aPaulogy is not a sentimental ode to a Bangalore that was. Instead, it shows us how the city and its idiosyncrasies can be viewed with an indulgent eye and a wide smile.