Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Gods of Chance in Bangalore ?

Bangalore is known for its urbane, hip, technologically literate crowds, for its stability, for a flourishing economy, beer, real-estate booms and inflation...not much fazes Bangaloreans even when things are going out of control elsewhere in the state, country or even the world. I mean, this is the city which barely noticed the problems associated with the Babri masjid fiasco, the Cauvery water dispute and even the fiasco that was the kidnapping of Rajkumar - the iconic hero of Kannada movies.

I remember all these events, because while they were blasted across the media 24x7, Bangalore went about its business...ok, there were a few skirmishes here and there, but on the whole, life got back to normal real quick...

Not that people from Bangalore are cold-hearted or don't care...it's just that most of us who grew up there got used to the lovely, laidback approach of the city...where people always thought before jumping the gun, especially on matters like religion. People were cultured, well-read, educated and simply put - sensible.

Unfortunately, it isn't true anymore...the Bangalore that I remember is no more...too much has changed in the recent years, the least of which is a large influx of people, almost on a daily basis, with just one thought in mind - money ! People are now getting involved in riots on trivial matters. Gone are the days when we would all wonder as to why anyone would put their loved ones in danger and run amok among the streets...we only hoped that we would never face such a problem - Bangalore was always the steadiest city that I've seen in India...now that seems to have undergone a cataclysmic shift...alas, that Bangalore is no more. Even the name doesn't exist...officially that is.

I read about the recent riots in Bangalore, and thought - well, it will probably subside very quickly, and no one will be hurt...and with the typical Indian thick skin, and lack of sensitivity, I believed "well, at least no one I know!"

When my parents called me the same day - I asked them how matters were, and they said, well...it has improved a bit, but problems might reoccur, and then my mother went on to other mundane matters of how the car has some battery problems and it ran out when they were driving back from a wedding and they had to walk and find a garage, etc. I tuned out for a while, just making the required "ahem", "uh-huh" and "ok" noises from time to time, before I said I had other things to do, promised I would call back and hung up...

Today it hit me...the car broke down, and they had to find a garage to get it fixed...they were on foot trying to find a mechanic, whom they did find and then decided to leave the car in the workshop...hence, they got home much later than they would otherwise have...all the while the riots had started and were going on, on the very route they had taken if not for the fact that their car broke down ! By the way, the autorikshaw they called to get home, took them along a different route altogether...

So, if all was fine with the car, and they had proceeded on the normal route, they would have gone in to the area where the riots were at their peak and possibly run into the thick of it all! Who knows what could have happened ?

So was it intervention by a divine entity, random chance, preordained fate ? Who knows ? This is not a post about any of these topics...it is about realising that innocence and strongly held beliefs are lost...forever...the belief that Bangalore is a safe city capable of taking on all adversities; the Bangalore that I grew up in, the Bangalore that I left behind four years ago...has vanished...it is but a ghost of itself; in the mad scramble for technological superiority and heartless economics and wily politicians...

Also lost is that sense of security when one hears of bad events and people getting hurt - the cold, selfish security that nothing can happen to oneself or the people that you are close to...the bullets are hitting closer to home now and there isn't much that I or anyone else I know can do about it...now a constant niggle has crept in to my thoughts...and it seems bent on growing into an all out sense of dread and fear...

Alas, my simple beliefs in my favourite city and in many of the important matters in life, is no more...I shall mourn this loss for a long time to come...

Previous posts related to Bangalore : 1, 2, 3, 45, 6.

[Note : I do not wish to propagate the myth that the entire city was up in riots...it wasn't...it was apparently restricted to certain areas...but those were the exact areas through which my parents would have taken had their car not broken down.]

Cross posted on Desicritics.

______________________

1 comment:

Susan Kuchinskas said...

This reminds me of the great change in the San Francisco Bay Area in the first dotcom boom (except for the kidnappings. The influx of people and money really changed things for a while. SF went from friendly and cool to overamped and contentious, with everyone striving for space and business. Things have cooled a bit, but they're not the same.