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Bangalore to Bengaluru

June 10, 2011

Last night’s post about Gurgaon got me thinking about my own city and how much we have grown since the days we were ‘Bangalore’ and not ‘Bengaluru’.

My neighborhood still looks the same… mostly. There are a few more of the ‘food malls’ around rather than just the local grocery store where I could drop of a list of groceries and it would be brought home. The quality would mostly be assured and the prices weren’t so bad that I’d have to sell a room in the house every time. And customer service was at its peak… the guy would go back and get me the brand of my choice, if he had forgotten or I changed my mind. All this for no delivery charges.

I do get home delivery now, with additional tax for delivering, for the plastic bags, for the fuel and some other random things.

I interact less with my neighbors. No more walking across the street for a cup of sugar – and yes, I did that often enough as a kid. I would be mortified to go and ask but my mom would shoo me out of the door with a cup in my hand and my neighbors wouldn’t think that was strange at all. Now, all I do is wave across the street when I’m leaving, if I accidentally run into them.

My favorite hangouts in city – that were my favorite because they were cheap – are gone. Or raised their prices way tooooo much. Let’s see –

Koshys – the same old menu but the prices are as bad as elsewhere in the city. I wonder why because they still have the same old paintings and tables and uniforms for their waiters. Oh yes! Now it is ‘the’ place to be seen if you want an intellectual tag.

The avenue opposite MG Road – sacrificed for the metro.

India Coffee House – Sacrificed for… development? Well, I do know that they exist. But the cramped half a room thing they have on Church Street is simply not the same as the spacious two-floor thing they had on MG Road. You feel compelled to leave in the new one because it feels crowded. The earlier Coffee House, you could linger upstairs with a book, rose milk/coffee, dosas and samosas and still feel some money in your pocket when you left.

Premier Book Store – Not a food joint but hung out there quite a lot, digging for books. It was like a treasure hunt and you were always a little wary that the pile of books would just topple and bury you under. It was a delicate operation to extract a book from the pile and there was always something interesting here.

The British Library-turned-Barista-turned-HRC – Well, the building exists, like everything else. Except now it is HRC, which is cool enough. But I remember the days when it was a library… there was something truly awesome about going into that huge stone building to read a book. And then, a Barista coffee shop, which was one of the few places that had live music.

Tiffany’s – I never went here much but I always felt a sense of pride when I saw this beautiful building. Now, it is replaced by a you-can’t-miss-it, garish Coffee Day Square. UGH!

***
Some people ask me why I miss these places? How can you not? They were quiet, great food, you could hang around for hours and nobody would give you the evil eye and nobody cared what you wore.

I do have a couple of coffee shops in the city that I hang out a lot at… but that’s only because of the lack of other options. The music, which used to be nice and mellow, changed to hip hop and rap because of public demand.

As much as I appreciate the availability of nutella and snickers in every grocery store, I guess I could have done without them as well if it meant the absence of these tall buildings that replaced the trees.

The fanaticism that has taken over Bangalore… sorry, Bengaluru, is yet another worrying thing. What is with all the ‘learn Kannada in the first year you are here’ thing? This is a cosmo city… and it is ridiculous to push your language down other people’s throats, particularly when the most popular medium of language-enhancement = movies – is super lame.

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