November 07, 2011

On Namma Bengaluru

It has been close to nine months since I've moved to Bangalore, from Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso (my previous pit stop). So how have the three-quarters of a year past been - professionally it has been nothing short of mind blowing - doing as I am at Vanguard Business School stuff that my dreams are made of makes it so much fun, BUT there is a small caveat. That caveat is my cyclic love-hate relationship with Namma Bengaluru.

The fact is that about a day into my arrival in Bengaluru I fell in love with the seraphic weather of the garden city.A week into my stay I had made peace  with the City's traffic and the sad fact that it slept at 10 p.m. and was dead by 11:30 p.m.( Not that I was at all thrilled with this development). A month into Bangalore, I began to literally hate the city's guts from the deeps of my soul. Now, that  abhorrence has given way to a dull numb sensation somewhere left of my right shin. I am now ready  for the next emotion on this roller coaster ride to take hold of me - only - even I don't know what that emotion is going to be.

Enumerating my Bangy Blues a bit further, I seem to find  I can safely classify my positives in one category and my negatives into two, viz. :

Positives - Weather
Negatives - Traffic, Sleepy Town

Bengaluru Weather

'Agar Firdaus bar ru-e zamin hast. Hami asto. Hami asto. Hami ast' - Jehangir on Kashmir

If there is a  Metropolitan City anywhere in the World with perfect weather then this is it, this is it, this is it. Nitpicking pundits of the Anti-Bengaluru camp will rush in here to point out the severe pollen infested nature of Bengaluru's climes and how it debilitates any asthmatic the moment he enters Bangalore's airspace, but, at this juncture I clarify, I am not asthmatic, and I couldn't care about the handicaps imposed by this aspect of Bengaluru on people bronchially, alveolically or asthmatically challenged, because to me  the Weather here is supremely refreshing and rejuvenating.

In fact the weather here is so so good that it partly nullifies  the two huge negatives I am about to enumerate below. People who know me will know the tremendous currency I place on having decent options for entertainment post working hours, which for me is THE definition of a good city to live in. The fact that  I am not detesting every ticking second in Bangalore means that yes, in short, the weather is that good !!

Bengaluru Traffic

Back when there was nothing but primordial goo , even back then, two things existed - Angry birds and Headless chicken.

Now, living Bengaluru traffic is a special combination of Cars,Truckers, Bikers, Pedestrians, Traffic Cops, and- wait for it....Bengaluru's specials - The tractor hitched pull cart that could carry anything from Iron Rails to Grass to Water , the perambulating Bullock/cow, and of course the Jaywalker. Each of the above mentioned elements to Bangy traffic (except the serenely supreme Cow who is a respected and loved entity for precisely this reason) is part Angry bird and part Headless chicken, the exact proportions may vary but then a more detailed description of each category will only increase my stress levels so I'll let it go...

The non-living components of Bangalore Traffic involves weird one-ways, dangerously ill-lit roads, poorly placed and illegible signposts, road dividers that cause more accidents than prevent them, and there's also that ethereal sense of bewilderment that faces most Bangalore newbies when they ask bystanders for directions ( this one's my favourite Bangalore peeve by the way - that 3G navigation tools are selling like hot cakes in India is largely due to this in Bangalore at least!)

But while still on traffic woes I recently read THIS pretty funny blog by George Thomas on his recent experience of Pune traffic, and i want to underline that Bangalore Traffic is by far worse, much more most worstest !!

Sleepy Town Bengaluru

Namma Bengaluru is fast asleep at 10 p.m. This fact of Bangalore (which is reputed to be a pretty fly place for partying , and  was in fact the first city to boast of a massively touted pub culture) depresses me so much that you'll excuse me if I don't write too much on this and  brings things to a quick close on this front.

What's Ahead, Bengaluru ?

If Bangalore can get it's traffic act together (the recent Metro inauguration augurs new hope although that hope is at least another 5 years coming because the current opened metro stretch doesn't really mean much to Bangalore's traffic woes) and find a way to stay awake beyond it's rather tame curfew limit of 10 p.m. i could learn to love this city a lot. Coming from Mumbai (which I have always considered my home and barring miracles/ cataclysm will always in the future continue to hold as my home) it's unlikely  Bengaluru will catch up with Mumbai's frenetic and unbelievably varied nightlife very soon BUT I'm afraid a couple of all-night biryani joints doesn't count for much and Bangalore needs to get its act together in this department before I can unreservedly call Bangalore my home away from home