Bengaluru was a very different city when I came here first in 1996. One of my favourite haunts in the city was the Meenakshi temple on Bannergatta road, where I used to head out to get some peace and quiet. I also like visiting Ranga Shankara, in whose set-up I played a minor, miniscule part. I go there for the feeling of oneness and to feast on the excellent sabudana vadas served at the cafeteria. The Bull temple is another location where I love to take people, mostly friends from abroad, and they wonder how the huge bull got into the temple. It is my private practical joke.
Another place that fascinates me is the Bangalore Fort. Built by Kempegowda in the 15th century, initially as a mud structure, it encompassed much of the present day city market area and the all women police station in Halasuru was one of its gates. Only a part of the structure, just about five per cent, still stands. There is a plaque on it that says: through this break the British assault was delivered, March 21st, 1791.
I wonder about the passive voice of the notice. It is in this passivity that I see some of the major issues with the city — breaches — as one would call them in the idea of Bengaluru. First is how Bengalureans have extended their heart to me and millions like me. A migrant makes his home here, still speaks insufficient Kannada. At the same time, a migration like mine is replicated by millions and has brought the city to its current garbage, traffic, language crises. I see all of that captured in this one plaque.
As told to Nikhil Varma
This column features the city through the eyes of a prominent Bangalorean