June 17, 2015

How I miss Bangalore!

You can take the boy out of Bangalore, but you can't take Bangalore out of the... Wait. Why'd you take the boy outta there, in first place!

How I miss that slice of paradise! Been almost a year since I left my karmbhoomi for my janmbhoomi. While it's good to be home, it's a bummer not to have darshinis every 200 metres. What passes for sambhar up North makes me want to cry. The plastic spoon broke when I tried to dig into an idli.

Even street dogs don't chase me at night in Dehradun. Here, they merrily wag their bushy tails at human beings. No loud, frightening calls of "soppu" or "nighty nightyyyy nightyyyyyy" to wake me up every morning. No drums of panaka and majjige placed outside every temple on Ram Navami and other festivals. No bandh every few months. Leaving namma Bengaluru has left a Lalbagh-sized void in my life.

I had first come to the Silicon Valley of India at the age of 20, for my post-graduation in journalism. Upon completing the course, choosing to work in Delhi was natural, it being the prime news hub and just six hours from home (roughly the same time it takes to negotiate Mysore Road in moderate traffic). So I sent my bike, books and stuff back to Doon and took a train to the national capital. The moment I stepped under the merciless May sun at New Delhi railway station, I realised what a mistake I had made.

After enjoying The Garden City's cool, pleasant, Bollywood-romantic climate for 10 months, I couldn't possibly live anywhere else. So, I took my bike, tons of books and guitar to Bangalore again and came back for good. Got a job, earned my stripes and fell in love with the city all over again.

It was my sheer luck I lived near Basavanagudi. There was everything one could ask for around my room. All types of eateries (where you can sit, not sit, only levitate), flower markets, three dingy bars, even a wholesale wine shop and a hospital whose speeding ambulance rammed into me one night.

I'm not complaining. If it wasn't for living in this part of the city, I might never have known what a taste-riot Davangere benne dosa is (slurrrrp!). I might never have known there's more to life than masala dosa-plain dosa. There's open dosa, neer dosa, khali dosa, set dosa, I'm-forgetting-its-name-but-it-rocks dosa... And when I thought my palate was satiated, I learnt about 99 dosa!

I'd wait for Tuesdays and Saturdays as that's when my nearest darshini would make bisibele bath. From "bhaat" to "bath", it was quite a learning, and unlearning, curve. Like finding out that a North Karnataka dish is called "paddu". Same for thatte idli.

Lost & found in translation
I'm not mocking. Cannot. Just highlighting the amusing, comical discoveries a non-Kannadiga makes in Bangalore. Like the word "chumma". A semi-cheesy, arguably sleazy slang for "kiss" in Hindi, it assumes an innocuous meaning—"non-sense"—in Kannada. It's a delight to hear the local people saying "chumma", stress on the second syllable, to express frustration.

Then there's "ma". A gentleman in my office (he's actually a gentle man, unless he gets really pissed off) would address almost every girl as "ma". "You got my story? Any doubt, ma? Ok, ma." That sounds so cute! And the way local people hold their hand in thumbs-up gesture while asking something. It makes the uninitiated wonder what's wrong. Over time they observe nothing's wrong. And such discoveries make for such an aha moment!

After six years of living in Bangalore, I consider myself a Bangalorean. I am. When my friends here ask me if "Kannad" is spoken in Karnataka, I cut them off and tell them it's "Kannada". I miss the city when my friends in Bangalore brag about the lovely weather and post pics of flower-laden trees. The Bangalorean in me quit supporting RCB when it dropped Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble for players from other states.

As you live in Bangalore, soak in its culture, its manners, its lifestyle, the city endears you to itself no end. Like the fascinating sight of autorickshaws—and sometimes puny bikes—plying around with huge banana trees strapped to them on Ayudh Pooja. Even auto drivers' gimmick of refusing to go on hire and nonchalantly driving away into the horizon starts seeming funny after a point.

For the auto drivers' serious swag, for the irresistible 99 dosa stalls, for the high of loitering on Brigade Road and for endless reasons one can point out, Bangalore is awesome. Always will be. 

“And wherever I wander, this one thing I've learnt
It's to here... I will always, always return” 
— Bryan Adams in I'll Always Return

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