Bangalore Blues: Vignettes on Bangalore of yore

Kirtana Kumar’s ‘Bangalore Blues’ gives readers a look at what the city used to be

February 08, 2023 09:46 pm | Updated 09:57 pm IST

Once upon a time, long before it transmogrified into a snarling vortex of congestion, pollution and high rises, Bengaluru was a sleepy little town peopled by retirees who tended to the gardens in their bungalows.

A lot of the city’s current residents will not be able to make the connect between the bustling metropolis they occupy and the place described above. And before the city that it was, is lost to time, Kirtana Kumar has captured it in her book, Bangalore Blues.

As a theatre artiste, Kirtana says writing a book was not on her radar at all. “I was in Munich curating a festival during the lockdown. It was a few months after my father had passed away and I remembered some of the stories about Bangalore, especially the Cantonment, that he loved and they poured out of me.”

Kirtana Kumar

Kirtana Kumar | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Bangalore Blues comprises 33 stories and one essay about the city “between the 1960s to a certain dystopia. The book is about characters and human beings who usually don’t get written about; people don’t remember them and they just fall through the cracks.”

“Old Bangalore had this wonderful charm, an ability to pull diverse people with varied lifestyles, outlooks and perspectives, and hold them all together in the same space.” Since that facet of the city has changed over the years, Kirtana felt there was a certain narrative that had to be documented.

“The city has a history of diversity and a certain cosmopolitanism, it’s funny and poignant at the same time and all of this is reflected in the characters.”

“My father was an absolute Bangalore Cantonment kind of guy. He had an incredible lightness of spirit and I wanted to represent that because people these days, especially youngsters, cannot believe there was a Bangalore like that,” she says, remembering her father Ajit Nanda Kumar for whom this labour of love came about.

“It is a part of me, so I’m putting it down.”

Bangalore Blues will be launched on February 11 at Blossom Book House, Church Street at 5.30pm by Rajyotsava awardee Chiranjiv Singh. Priya Chetty-Rajagopal, founder of Heritage Beku and fashion curator Prasad Bidapa will be reading from and discussing the book.

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