Niranjan, who mans one of the first clinics in Konanakunte, provides a window to the changes in the area
On the busy Kanakapura Road, as the Metro construction inches ahead, there’s one thing that has remained unchanged: the premises of Akshaya Clinic in Konanakunte. Run by Niranjan T.H., the clinic, set up in 1984, offers general, family-physician consultations through the week.
Niranjan’s parents are from Kanakapura, and he himself grew up in Jayanagar; the southern part of town was familiar to him, and thus was a logical choice to set up a clinic after he graduated with an MBBS degree in 1982.
Niranjan also found that at the time, there were few provisions for healthcare. In the 28 years that the clinic has been functioning, the two-room setup and a faded white nameboard outside have stayed.
Treatment for three rupees
“There were no buildings back then,” the 53-year-old recalls at an interview in his clinic. “There were small shops selling meat, and some foundries. The Khoday’s brewery was still there.” He began by charging three rupees for treatment; that was how much he needed to support himself. Today, he’s reluctant to expand his clinic for fear of transferring the overhead charges to his patients.
The number of patients he sees now has increased over the years; he attributes this to migration and development of nearby areas. “What you see now is a minimum of 10 times what it was when I started,” he says, to quantify the rapid growth of Konanakunte; it has changed much, particularly in the last 15 years. The area’s low land prices, coupled with a strong commercial setup, helped attract new residents.
“The rent was low. This was supposed to be the market hub for people from surrounding areas — they had to come here to buy rations, clothes and day-to-day commodities.”
Niranjan’s patients, “typically labourers”, would come from villages such as Avalahalli, Uttarahalli and Kanakapura. Today, sometimes the same people come back; years later, they are in the same job, but their children have moved on, and gained an education, he says.
The area gets its name from a pond that used to exist, he says. According to a story he grew up with, farmers would come by cart to sell their produce in Bangalore; they would stop at the pond in the area to allow their buffaloes to drink water. “It’s a colloquial name, which has caught on — kona means buffalo, and kunte translates to watering hole.”
To Niranjan, the area — despite its rapid development — still represents a non-urban way of life that he cherishes.