Bangalore Musings

Dear readers, I was in Bangalore from the afternoon of the 28th to the
morning of the 30th, of July. I’ve done a bit of travelling over this
time, and here are some of my general observations.

Again, photos of the trip are up on my Flickr Page.

Disclaimer – I was in the city less than 48 hours, this is my first trip
here, I do not intend to justify my observations, and they may be tinged
with any or all of my personal preconceived notions and biases. This
will also be peppered with inevitable comparisons between Bangalore, my
hometown of Mumbai, and my workplace Pune. So there. If you’re still
with me, read on!

The Weather: Ah! The first thing you notice about the city is the
wonderful, wonderful weather! Bangalore is, truly, a no-sweat zone!
Fellow Mumbaikars, let us work on a plan to replicate this weather back
home – Let’s make Mumbai like Shanghai or NYC or Casablanca or Timbuktoo
or whatever catches the Government’s fancy, but let’s give it
Bangalore’s weather!

Rickshawallas: Perhaps the only breed of rickshawalls without any
knowledge of the city they ply their rickshaws in. Residency Road? Don’t
know saaar. Taj Hotel? Where is that saaar. Aga Abbas Ali Road? Ulsoor
Road? Blank look. IIM college? From the look on his face, I might as
well have asked him to take me to Dadar TT. And to get to IBM’s Embassy
Golf Links office on the IndiraNagar – Koramangala Ring road, I was
warned not to mention IBM – but if you ask a rickshawalla to take you to
“Dell ka office”, or “Microsoft ka office” or “Sasken ka office”, which
are near the EGL office, you can see their face light up like a happy
sunrise. Similarly, on Airport road, you ask them for “Golden Towers” or
“Golden Enclave”, where IBM has its offices too, and you might have more
success if you asked them in Pushtu. But you say “Intel ke office ke
aage” – and the mention of the word “Intel” brings so much recognition,
it might as well be a native Kannada word. In fact, I get the feeling
they know the road to the office of every single competitor of IBM.

Rickshaw meters: Something which the asinine Goverments of Mumbai and
Pune haven’t been able to do at least for all the years I’ve been
travelling via a rickshaw – the reading on the meter is the actual price
you pay. So the meters start from Rs. 10.00, and increase in increments
of 50p. How simple is that! No mental acrobatics required at the end of
a trip like {reading} x 4 + 2, or {reading} x 6 + 1, or whatever
formula’s in vogue in Pune this season.

A lot of rickshaws in Bangalore now have digital meters – nice red
7-segment LCD displays. They display the rickshaw charge, the distance
travelled, the waiting time! And because they’re LCDs, you can read off
them even in total darkness. In fact, you can even read the LCD display
on the rickshaws two lanes away. Talk about high-tech! Of course, I was
told by one of my acquaintances in Bangalore about how the digital
meters are even easier to tamper with! Indians are easily the most
innovative race, but all of that innovativeness is directed towards
subvertive rather than constructive purposes. Sigh! But digital meters
are a great idea! Talk about high-tech. Now if only they could replace
ordinary rickshawallas with digital ones that actually know directions…

Traffic – Jams v/s Signals: No kidding – Bangalore does have a serious
traffic problem. It took me over 40 minutes to cover the 10.6 kms from
the IndiraNagar-Koramangala ring road to IIM Bangalore on Bannerghatta
road. And this in a rickshaw whose driver was ready to take the shortest
route by plunging his 3-wheeled steed into impossibly narrow but
thankfully empty gullies. (Yes, I confirmed this was indeed the shortest
route). But you spend far too much time at traffic signals. I waited
twice in quick succession at traffic signals where the counter counted
down an agonising 178 seconds from red to green. But that is one crucial
difference between Bangalore and Pune – you are stuck in traffic in both
cities, but in Bangalore that will be more often than not at a signal;
in Pune it’s in a traffic jam.

Roads: Roads in Bangalore are wider on an average than the ones in Pune.
They’re also likely to be cleaner. And they have one feature which we
Mumbaikars have all but forgotten over the past two generations –
footpaths! Remember in old, sepia-tinted photographs of the city’s
roads, you could see two small but distinct lanes at both banks of the
road, where people actually walked? Yes, they were called footpaths.
They are still there, my fellow citizens, but the vada-pav-walla, the
nimbu-paani-walla, the kacchi-dabeli-waala, the CD-waala, the
bhaaji-waala, the municipality’s community kachre-ka-dabba, the
bus-stop, the one-piece plastic sulabh shouchalay, among others, have
taken them over. Bangalore-ians, preserve your footpaths! You’re lucky
to still have them!

Bungalows: Someone I met in Bangalore pointed out a most interesting
observation – the large percentage of single- and two-storeyed bungalows
in the city. Apparently, people down South have not yet gotten used to
the Apartment mentality, so even a middle-class family will vie for a
bungalow before settling for an apartment. Hmm. In Mumbai, no trip out
of the house will be complete without the customary thundering
down/lumbering up multiple flights of stairs, or the ritualistic wait
for the lift to arrive at your floor. Simply walking off the road into
your garden and house will be unnerving for the average Mumbaikar. In
Bangalore, you share a garden wall with your neighbour; in Mumbai, you
share your bedroom wall!

So that, dear readers, is a description of some of the interesting stuff
I’ve observed in Bangalore! I hope I can make it there more often, so I
can refine these opinions a little more!

3 Replies to “Bangalore Musings”

  1. “Apparently, people down South have not yet gotten used to the Apartment mentality”So true…

  2. Hey…nice write-up. I’m a fellow IBM-er who got transferred from IBM Bangalore (Prestige Towers) to IBM Pune (Parvaaz). My colleague found your blog when she googled the address of IBM EGL coz I needed the number. Found your write-up really cool and something I can totally relate to. :-)

  3. Hey Rahul, That sure was a fun read!!! The situation with me and my colleague is sort of opposite. We were in Bangalore till the month before last and shifted to Pune now. We can relate to your Bangalore experiences as against Pune so well!! Especially the auto rides, the traffic woes. Good stuff.

Comments are closed.