M’lore-B’lore: A Picture-less Travelogue


Into our own little worlds we disappear

As I travel from one continent to another, a small group of people appear more familiar. They become visible in the queue every time I connect to a new flight. As if a bond has been built over the last twelve hours by the inevitability of sharing this mobile home. These are my unspoken friends for now: a family of three (with a hyperactive kid); a newly-wed with a twinkle in their eyes; an elderly couple who could have been returning after visiting their grand-kids. They smile. In the changing landscapes of the airports and ticket counters it seems that we all are dying to hit the pillow and coziness of hot water showers. But we will have to wait for another 8 hours. As we reach Mumbai we part our ways as strangers. No heartaches of hellos or goodbyes. We smile and into our own little worlds we disappear.

The beauty of Tulu vocabulary

As I reach Bajpe, the clouds are clear. From the blue skies I see the awesome façade of the Bajpe church. The tiny hamlet of Mangalorean tiles among the lanky coconut trees are a feast from above. As if someone presented me this wonderful dish and I hold it in the palm of my hand to admire the maker.

After being inundated with skyscrapers and four lane freeways everything seems to be diminishing in scale. When the wheels hit  the concrete and the conveyer belts delivers my luggage I begin to feel the sweaty warmth of a hometown.

The taxi driver greets me. In the next fifteen minutes we sail through meandering roads. But the serenity is disturbed when the  driver curses the oncoming traffic and the pathetic state of the Bondel road. Although concrete seems to be the new material here the old asphalt roads are still around. It looks as if the ‘pot holes’ have changed positions now. Like someone is doing the bedding and the other side always opens up.

The streets widen and narrow without notice. In one moment we are gliding happily in a fourty feet asphalt and in another moment we whizz past Thyampanna’s goodangadi. The small petty shops which sell  ‘Nandini milk’ and ‘ packet curds’ are still intact. But they are filled with new hoardings of  AirTels and the Hutchs. It seems that cell-phone revolution has not just started, but ignited. Two wheelers scamper at street corners to answer an incoming call and four wheelers are getting used to one hand driving.

I was looking for a major change in Mangalore but it didn’t match up the hype.  Yes, there are changes like the coffee day hangouts and the mushrooming mall culture. But the basic fabric of Mangalore seems unfazed.

As I see people Jay-walk in the typical Mangalorean style, I hear my taxi driver yelling ‘Kann Pudadhinda…? I ‘m sure that jay-walker will yell back something like ‘Ninna Ajjer na bojja.’ The shout and response holler reminds me of that Muddy water blues. This is the time I feel welcome.  I love English. I love Konkani. But the spiciness in the Tulu vocabulary is unmatchable.

""…I wish I could have stayed longer but as they say good things must come to an end. ….""

IT and Beauty

In my two short trips to Bangalore I found a new optimism. Much like New York there seems to be a kind of hurry that is characterizing this place. Bangalore is on the march–at least from the way people move with those IT badges in their pockets. It does not matter what kind of IT job one is doing…it has become the status symbol….perhaps the same role helmets used to perform during our times when we preferred to hold the helmet on MG road and wander around to seek the suitable (irrespective of whether you pillion rode the RX 100!).

Everyone in Bangalore seem to be aware that these are the golden years…but they are too close to the action to know what exactly this is or to make sense of it. When the dust settles down Bangalore will sure go into introspection… and perhaps realize whether it too late to recover from what could be possibly be a narcissistic spree or whether it can endure and even come cropper with the onslaught of modernism.

Flyovers and malls have literally taken over the Bangalore I knew, and its borders seems to be expanding into new space. What was a suburb has become the new urban landscape and what was the satellite town is now transforming as a suburb.  Flyovers converge into close knit blocks of yester years as if a new language is on the cards. I wonder dreadfully whether in ten years the precious space underneath the flyovers will make heads scratch about its potential use like it is presenting all over the metro world. 

The hyper ads at the shopping malls beckons the prospective consumer. Whether they are making the money or not the malls have become the symbol of a new-found cultural capital. I even saw a mall exclusively for women called the ‘Eva’ mall and I wonder who’s fighting for the male lib these days!

Moreover people seem to have become design conscious. Gone are the days when clients used to come to engineers to build their dream houses with an idea. Now its all about browsing the internet and picking and choosing a particular style and demanding the new pastiche of eclecticism. 

But life on one side is manifested as trouble on the other. Lack of water and ill-maintained roads have become the big elephant in the room and Bangalore needs to cope with it before it can be the poster child of  ‘India shining.’ Because,  besides all the hoopla about ‘IT and beauty’ as the Times of India would likes to call it, Bangalore is filled with vehicles and dust. The number of vehicles seems to have doubled from my last visit. It is not an exaggeration to say that the traffic here does not move. Rather the traffic jam as an unit that moves! Bangalore! What can I say? You have been altered for good.

Missing Rita and Melita in the communion queue

At the end of this trip I think to myself whether I am objectifying a place that I spent most of my childhood life. Perhaps education makes you over-analytical. May be its just futile to collect all these experiences and expect it to fit into your front pocket. Rather, perhaps this is a call to soak into the new optimism that India has been portraying for better or for worse.

On my last day at Mangalore I had the chance to meet a very own of M.com, the king of EYT. It was as if I met a friend whom I had known for a long time. I wish I could have stayed longer but as they say good things must come to an end. As I leave, the monsoon showers is on its baby steps, and  I will miss Mangalore  and Bangalore for several reasons: especially for the things that I did not report here: for instance, the glimpses of all the Ritas and Melitas on the church communion queue; my mom’s spicy crabs; the splitter–splatter of the drizzles on my tiled roof; the chill at the wet hem of my pants, the churmuri at the Kadri Park; Manguli’s sugarcane juice; and the slow poignant march of the Pencha’s funeral band….
Until we meet next time Adios amigos…..buonas  noches…

Author: Newton Dsouza- USA