•  •  Dark Mode

Your Interests & Preferences

I am a...

law firm lawyer
in-house company lawyer
litigation lawyer
law student
aspiring student

Website Look & Feel

 •  •  Dark Mode
Blog Layout

Save preferences
An estimated 11-minute read

Thoughts in my head this morning

 Email  Facebook  Tweet  Linked-in
I moved to Bangalore nearly six years ago, to pursue an education in a city I dreamt of living in as a teenager. Up until then, I had been a frequent visitor, coming to Bangalore often to spend time with my extended family, or to participate in cricket tournaments. Brigade Road, the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Empire Hotel, Spinn, *insert name of one of the many pubs in the city* - these were the icons that kept pulling me back to the city each time.

Six years in the city have given me a better perspective on things, reaching beyond just the icons mentioned above.

I got my first taste of real estate prices and prospects in the city - starting with a 10x6 room in a PG (Rs. 3000 per month) and undergoing some gradual changes to the comfy little one bedroom penthouse I live in today (Rs. 15,000 per month).

I also experienced Bangalore during the monsoon for the very first time. Flooded roads were a nightmare, especially as a pedestrian. But fortunately I wasn't one of the thousands who spent their nights pumping water out of their homes, or scooping hundreds of buckets out all through the night. I was also lucky enough not to get swept into an open manhole, be buried alive under a wall that collapsed due to shoddy contractors, or electrocuted because of fallen trees and understaffed BWSSB response teams.

The gloss and glam of Bangalore is for all to see in the massive structures that are UB City, high end *invites only* apartment complexes surrounding the Central Business District. I recently spent two months interning at a law firm on Lavelle Road, and I can honestly say that I saw more BMWs and Audis than I did Maruti Swifts. Not to mention the new Harley Davidson showroom that had me staring every day, or the upcoming Ducati showroom that's got everyone staring even though there's not a single bike in the store yet.

Beneath the gloss and the shiny lights, however, resides the true heart of Bangalore - a multi cultural melting pot of people from other parts of Karnataka and even other parts of India. The heart that takes the bus, takes the auto, takes a humble car to work everyday. The heart that is the power source driving the wheels of Bangalore's IT factories. The heart that comprises a majority of the EIGHTY LAKH people that live in this city.

The recent census report indicates that Bangalore's population has nearly doubled in the last ten years, and the density of population has increased by about 47%. To give you some perspective, 4378 people live in one square kilometre in Bangalore. The second highest is Dakshina Kannada with 416 people per square kilometre. Yet, as Mumbai tries to rise higher and higher above those on the ground, Bangalore is inundated with politicians and babus grabbing vast tracts of land in and around the city while we bribe officials to allot measly plots of land to build the house of our dreams (sharing a common wall with our neighbour). We have witnessed a political merry-go-round in Karnataka. A headless Congress battling a superficial JDS, only to be upstaged by a virgin BJP government headed by a superstitious, greedy man whose only response to allegations of corruption and nepotism is to point out that others have been guilty of the same offence. How different is it from a spoilt ten year old repeating everything you say? "You're a cheater" "YOU'RE a cheater" "You're a liar" "YOU'RE a liar"

One of the reasons why Bangalore's population has risen so significantly is because the increasing number of job opportunities it presents as an IT hub. But do the returns of living here outweigh the costs? 48.8% of urban households have NO drainage facilities. Sewage runs down unobstructed through Bangalore's most posh roads, and yet no one seems disturbed by it. Massive rats the size of my foot infest the city's sewers and streets, and every young man/woman who's been out for a late snack has seen them. The garden city has a huge rat problem, but is anyone paying attention?

Hygiene and sanitation aside, it's the crime rate that's been most worrying. I remember my first summer in Bangalore, and every single day the newspaper carried a story about victims of mugging. I made a mental note once, to make sure that if it ever happened to me, I wouldn't be stupid about it. Little did I know, I'd have to put that note into practice very soon. Walking down a busy Sampige Road in Malleshwaram at 9pm, I was stopped by 4 young men, two armed with knives. One knife was pressed against my tummy, the other against my throat, close enough for me to smell the steel blade. In 30 seconds, I gave them everything I had - my wallet, my watch, my phone. They were nice enough to return my wallet with my college ID and drivers license in it. Then, pressing the tip of the knife a little harder against my throat, they asked me to walk back slowly and not make a noise. I did as told, and today I live to tell that tale. There are thousands of other stories - all you need to do is talk to the Radio City RJ who got her face disfigured for resisting a mugging attempt, or the poor girl who got raped in a cab on her way back from work from Electronic City. These are but a few stories that we remember. The others come and go every single day.

Lets change the mood a bit. Everyone looks forward to life in college, and I was no different. I used to sneak into Spinn as a 16 year old, and leave the club at 2 am, with the party still going full tilt. Taught me how to pace my drinks. In college though, I had to battle bumper to bumper traffic to make my way to the pub/club by 9.30.. just so I'd have two hours to enjoy myself. Today, I have all but given up on the city's nightlife. I cant even remember the last time I went to a club and danced for more than 2 hours. The prospect of having to battle against time to enjoy the city's 'nightlife' and then be herded out by cops two hours later just doesn't enthuse me anymore.

What's worse is having to look for food post 12pm - begging restaurant owners to serve me whatever they have left, and gulping it all down quickly, because after all, in the eyes of the government and the police, I am a prospective criminal. While people get mugged, raped and killed, Bangalore's finest officers wield their lathis to shut down eateries. The ones that dare stay open beyond 12 (The Chancery has a great midnight buffet) have to deal with constables armed with.. wait for it... video recording cell phones. Yes, fifty people gathered in a hotel, enjoying a hot dinner - evidence must be gathered, and they must be punished for such a heinous crime!!

Infrastructure projects are today's biggest topics for discussion. Flyovers, Magic Box Underpasses, Elevated Expressways, Ring Roads, Metro Rail, Mono Rail - these terms were all foreign to me, but over six years have found a place of permanence in my vocabulary.

Today, as I drive my car on Bangalore's roads, I am joined by 800 new faces every day, each of whom has just registered his new car at the regional transport office. I never leave my windows down, because the sound of incessant honking isn't exactly my soundtrack of choice when I'm at the wheel. I tolerate motorcyclists who swerve left and right, who wedge themselves between the respectable distance I've maintained from the car ahead of me. I tolerate the c*nt honking furiously behind me while I stop to let a woman and her children cross the road. All around me, people in/on their machines seem wound so tight - ready to snap at any moment. Common courtesies to pedestrians are unheard of. Lane discipline is just not part of our culture. Well I guess I can take some heart from the fact that we're still a bit better than Delhi - no one's getting shot over a scraped bumper in Bangalore. Yet.

While we marvel at some of the infrastructure that's in place today, we tend to forget that each project was plagued by enormous delays. Raise your hand if you read about the Sadashivnagar Underpass that was promised to be constructed within 3 days, but took over 3 months to make. Our Metro is expected to ease traffic and make lives better for all Bangaloreans, but its now gotten to a point where the authorities have stopped giving new launch dates, having failed already to meet the deadlines on two previous occasions.

These are but a handful of stories I can narrate. I am sure you have many similar stories of your own. Each one highlighting an area that this city desperately needs to address at the earliest. However, as politicians continue to maintain their stranglehold on this city, we continue to look at Bangalore with notions of romanticism. We love the weather, we love the cherry blossoms in the summer, we love the relatively relaxed pace of life as compared to Mumbai and Delhi, we have good beer, we have good music. Peel away the gloss, the romanticism and you'll see a city decaying every single day due to apathy and neglect.

Six years on, and I have lived in the city I have always dreamt of. I have shared space here with 80 lakh people, and met many among them who have shaped my life into what it is today. But standing here, at 23, with the rest of my life ahead of me, I ask myself, do I still long to stay here? Is this where I see myself carving a future?

I took a moment to read everything that I've typed above and the odds seem to be stacked heavily in favour of an answer in the negative. Sure the money's here, and the jobs are here, but are they not elsewhere? I long to live in a place where human contact is valued. Where every passerby is noticed. Where a maid, a watchman, a delivery boy, a pedestrian are all treated as fellow humans - with empathy, with respect and with compassion. Where the worth of life is guaged not only by which floor of which apartment of which builder I live in, or how many zeroes are in my monthly paycheque, but by how much of a positive impact my life has had on someone else's. I long to walk the streets with the same enthusiasm and comfort I did as a child, exploring an entire city on my cycle. I long to cross a road and hug a dear friend, without having to risk my life in doing so. I long to breathe clean air.

We live in times where money is gaining more importance each day. And every day that it becomes more important to us, ironically its value in buying commodities we need diminishes. I used to buy a packet of milk for Rs. 10. Today I pay Rs. 16, an increase of 60%. A litre of petrol costs Rs. 65. Remember when it was still back in the forties? What I'm saying is I guess this rant can trace its inspiration from having to deal with adult decisions about finding a job, earning money, paying bills and buying commodities. But at the same time, this phase in my life has forced me to re-assess where I stand in life and where I see myself in ten years. How many years will it take for me to earn enough money to be able to afford a roof over my head in this city that I can call my own? Will I have enough means to support a family? Is this the kind of city I wish to be a part of in the future?

I do not know.


I do. not. know.

What I do know is that life is short, and full of surprises either way. What I do know is that with youth on my side and hopefully a long life ahead of me, I have the luxury of weighing my decisions, and taking my risks. Some people are suited perfectly to do the jobs that this city generates, and in doing so, to morph into its structure and its practices. Some people are destined for other things. Bigger things. The only way we know which one of those we belong to, is to test ourselves.

To those of you thinking these thoughts, you are not alone.

To those who are thinking about making a change, and making a difference, I salute you. Contest an election for your local municipal region, file an RTI application and hold your public servants accountable. Sounds like too much? Then lend your voice and your strength to those who are already doing so. Join communities that stand against corruption. Gather momentum to get rid of this ridiculous deadline and show the government it has its priorities wrong. If nothing else, TALK ABOUT IT. Discuss issues with your friends, with strangers, and ignite the thought in their heads. These are all things you and I can do. We can use our education to give back. We are not be bound by it. Gandhi was a lawyer, Jesus was a carpenter, and Buddha was a prince. We forge our own paths, and we watch life unfold.

Here's hoping I have the memory, the strength, the courage and the conviction to test myself and not. Here's hoping that in the years to come, my life will impact someone else's positively. If I fail, if nothing else, I will learn something. If I succeed, I will let you know, so maybe someday, in a land of cynicism and unrest, you will develop the courage to try make a difference.

Click to show 1 comment
at your own risk
By reading the comments you agree that they are the (often anonymous) personal views and opinions of readers, which may be biased and unreliable, and for which Legally India therefore has no liability. If you believe a comment is inappropriate, please click 'Report to LI' below the comment and we will review it as soon as practicable.