Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Bangalore – 3 – a Band Consisting of Local Instruments

I had first visited Bangalore in the eighties. At that time it was like a small town, a slightly larger version of Cochin or Pune, no, not Pune, Calicut, perhaps. There wasn't this mad rush of vehicles about it. The transport was always toad-shaped ambassadors and Italian fiats. There weren't these dazed looking geniuses from north of the country around. At that time Azim Premji only owned the Western India Vegetable Products Company Ltd. (WIVP, hence anagram Wipro) in Bombay and not Wipro as we know now. And Narayana Murthy was perhaps a worker in Patni.

It's interesting the way I communicate with my driver Raj. He doesn't speak Hindi, English, Malayalam or Tamil. He speaks only Kannada but understands Tamil. I speak a bit of Tamil. So I speak to him in Tamil, which he barely understands and replies to me in Kannada. But we understand each other very well. Like the anti-hero of Aravind Adiga's White Tiger he was a fleet owner. He had five cars which he let out to technical companies. He was taken for a ride by the drivers, quite metaphorically. He ended up bankrupt which is why he is a driver now.

While technology has changed lives of young people called the techies, same can't be said of senior citizens and the poor to which category Raj belongs. Even techies don't get a good deal. Greed doesn't allow man to keep still. There are always lots to be done with as little pay as possible. Why can't life be a little hurried. I mean life has become a struggle for existence whether it be Bangalore or Bombay. Everywhere I go I see giant billboards advertising construction projects. Obviously, construction is doing well because practically everyone needs a house to live. I see the widening of the city's limits to more and more agricultural land and the turning of fallow soil into places of residence. Interesting transition here. I live in New Bombay which was similarly a cluster of small villages, thrust into a modern age of computers and telecommunications. Sudden richness has its disadvantages. The children grow up without realising the hard struggle their forefathers had to endure.

So, philosophy aside, I attend an exhibition on real estate. There's colour here; brilliant colours shine in fluorescent light amid the sweeping views of buildings, housing societies, condominiums and bungalows. There are swimming pools and walkaways in freshly printed advertisements on the walls. In fact, one stall features grass on its ground and the executives wear ethnic shalwar-kameez in traditional fashion. An upcoming film star inaugurates it after the usual delay. There's a band consisting of: an earthen pot struck with nimble fingers, a small hand drum, and a whining instrument played with the mouth which provides the music to the setting.

If I don't stop, I will become unconscious. Sorry about bothering you too much about my state. So good night!