An ode to the place that once was
My, my, how you have changed! I remember you, young, green, fresh. You had an innocence in your simple ways. I remember your salubrious weather, your unclogged streets, your tall trees and green parks. Quaint alleyways, clean streets, shop-owners who went home at mid-day for siesta. The simple pleasures of life were there for all of us to cherish.
I remember the colorful markets of Malleswaram, shopping for groceries at Nilgiris, seeing James Bond movies from the first row for Rs. 2 as a student. And then there were the occasional noodle soups at Rice Bowl, and spicy Biriyanis at RR. Hungry from lack of real food in our hostel, we devoured Tandoori Naans by the mouthful at New Shanthi Sagar. And, to top it all, there was Vanilla icecream with hot chocolate fudge at the Corner House! Oh, it was heaven.
And friends, I had them all. There was always company for the weekend movies to M. G. Road. Late night rides on Deccan Herald bus, sitting on freshly minted newspaper, coming back to Indian Institute of Science. Parties on everyone's birthdays, and even when it was not anyone's birthday in particular. There was music. Late night walks to Yeshwantpur. Chilli Chicken from Ratna Bar, lovingly called Rats. U B Export. Love. Hate. Envy. Sweet Love.
So it was then. You have changed now. I look around, and I can barely recognize you. Looks like someone tied you up in steel, buried you in concrete. They tore down your green cover, filled your lungs with dust and smog. They have clogged your arteries with Suzukis, Hondas and Toyotas. They have let loose a revolution on you, girl! You are famous now; the 'Silicon Valley' of the east. People the world over know you. But you know what, you are not the same anymore. You have grown up. You even have a new name, Bengaluru.
I could lament about your new-fangled ways, but I will try not to. For we need to embrace change. For changed you have, and there is no denying. Skyscrapers now dot your breast, a shiny new Metro crawls over your body. While people sit in their air-conditioned Daewoos at the road intersection, cocooned from the smoke outside, and honking to no one in particular, they are driving to work to unleash forces that will change you forever. You have been their road to riches, and now, how they come, by thousands, to the El Dorado that you have promised to them. They are taking your life blood away from you, while at the same time re-defining who you are. You are now a martyr to your own beauty.
I know you will live forever, long after I have gone. I looked for those sign posts of my, and your, youth, but a lot of them have disappeared under tonnes of concrete and shiny glass. I feel like both you and I have lost an important piece of our past together. I know its still you, the same old Bangalore, but, in a strange way, I feel disconnected. You don't welcome me anymore like you used to. It feels strange to share you with ten million people.
So remember me when, sometime, you stop to think of the old days. I once knew you, Bengaluru.