It was a Sunday and for a change my wife decided to cook. But at 11 a.m. she had a change of heart and asked me to pick up the lunch parcel from her favourite caterer in N.R.Colony. I set out on my errand after noting down the address. I entered ‘X' Street only to find it blocked by three cows sitting side by side and having a lunch of banana peel nonchalantly.
Ahead of the cows were a line of vegetable vendor carts on either side of the street. Behind me was a huge blue colour BMTC bus with the driver honking and snarling at me to get off his path.
“Road jammed,” I turned and told him. “Blistering barnacles” he cursed in Kannada and asked me whether I was new to the city. Before I could reply he honked thrice and said “Hey Meera, Preethi, Keerthi! Move!” The three cows recognised his voice, got up slowly, mooed and moved way. Traffic was cleared and that is life in the area.
“How do you manage to live here?” I asked the caterer after locating his house in a narrow compound full of tulsi pots, footwear, a scooter, and two motorcycles. “Can't imagine living anywhere else in the city” he said proudly. “Hotel, grocery stall, barber shop, stationery shop, flower market, temple, hospital… everything is within 5 minutes walk. I have a site in Kengeri but am not moving there,” he added proudly.
All of us have this strange attachment to the area where we live in and suffer indigestion at the very thought of moving elsewhere. An uncle of mine lives in a splendid, quiet area of J.P. Nagar with broad roads, big parks and playgrounds and huge bungalows. He swallows an aspirin whenever he goes to K.R. Market or any crowded place. And he can't find his way back home. His son's office is on Cunningham Road and so wants to move to some apartment near office but Uncle is not willing to move out. “It's J.P. Nagar or nothing for me,” is his rigid stand.
A friend of mine lives in Shivajinagar and says life exists only in his area. Narrow roads and lanes, tea shops and samosa stalls on the sidewalks, uncleared garbage, traffic jams everywhere. Plus the occasional big bungalow in the midst of matchbox-like houses. “It's magical, yaar. Even if you give me a flat in New York or Istanbul I won't leave this place,” he says.
Then there is the case of an aunt who lived in the HAL area for long, just behind the airport. Every time a plane took off or flew in, there was this deafening noise and we couldn't hear anything in her drawing room. We would cover our ears in dismay. This irritated her. “Don't insult me like this. The sound of the plane is so comforting. Covering your ears is bad manners,” she would scold us. When the airport shifted to Devanahalli she lost her piece of mind.
S. VENKATESH BHAT