This piece I wrote sometime back came in Discover India‘s last issue. Thanks to Anushree Basu. Hope you like it.
On a fine Friday at two in the afternoon,in the month of June. Just before sitting down to write this, I was staring out of the window. There is green all around me and the weather is playing… ‘the weather’. Like the whole vastness around me is conspiring to make me believe that this is where I want to stay put. For a long, long time. But that’s a different story which merits more time and space. For now, allow me to wax lyrical about how I’d spend a typical evening in Bangalore.
My evenings, whenever I manage to sneak out of office early, begin with a customary visit to the Indian Coffee House. There, I’d mostly be greeted by a bearded friend who writes for a living. He’s an old timer here. The Coffee House had to shift to a stuffier place recently but some of us still hang around for old times sake. Coffee and hours of talk, and not so expensive food is on the menu. Talks, depending on what one thinks is wrong with the world, are usually about politics, corruption, media, philosophy, music and a variety of other things. One too many evenings have been gladly wasted, sipping coffee, planning coups and seeking ways to change the world.
Dylan is my favorite on such evenings. He once sang, I gave her my heart. But she wanted my soul. The rest of the song tells you that he saved his soul from her. I, for a change, gave my soul too. And I have no regrets. That’s the beauty of falling in love with a city like Bangalore, a city that sleeps early. When you think of the splendid morning that awaits, the prospect of sleeping early is not so bad. Instead of waking up in a scumbox to the stench of industrial waste or noisy, rabid traffic, with luck, one can look forward to waking up to the sights and smell of a good morning in Bangalore.
Things are changing though. For better or for worse? I don’t know. What once used to be the pensioners paradise has transformed
into something they like to call ‘India’s IT capital’. The number of autos, cars, buses, bikes, people, malls, multiplexes, apartments are going up. Trees, birds, lakes, water bodies and heritage sites are disappearing overnight. You know where this is going. All this talk will lead to more depressing talk. Let’s get back to the evenings.
Another place, I like to spend time at, is Koshy’s — a 70 year old restaurant on St. Mark’s Road where a bunch of us journos, the arty folk, yuppies, celebrities, wags and quite a lot of normal people pile up. I am told that people like Queen Elizabeth II, Nikita Khruschev and Nehru have dined here. Just to think that perhaps you are squatting on a chair, on which, once upon a time, some really pricey behinds were parked, makes me unnecessarily proud. There is some poetic justice in it.
As the night grows older, familiar faces walk into the restaurant. The hedonic fix lasts a few hours till about 11.30 pm — the closing time prescribed by the oligarchy we voted to power. It is time to carry our gig elsewhere. Home, friend’s place etc are all options… after all, for many in Bangalore, home is where the server is.