Monday, January 02, 2006

BengaLooru

A lot has been written about what's really behind this renaming craze and I really have nothing new to add. Nevertheless, it gives me an excuse to do my bit of whining.

I admit I could be seeing it through hazy eyes, but Bangalore, as I remember was still a lazy quaint old town where it rained a lot but never seemed to bother us as much as it does now, and you could buy a kid a bicycle without halving his chances of reaching adulthood and traffic jams were things that happened on Mysore road. There were still trees on either side of most roads. I remember that when I was a kid and my folks had to go out, there was always some house in the street that I could WALK into. Everybody spoke Kannada, although even back then less than half of the bangaloreans had Kannada as their mother tongue. The anglo-indian teachers in my school spoke chaste, if a little accented, Kannada. Even in my engineering class, save a couple of girls who claimed that they didn't understand Kannada, this is was our unofficial language.

Fast forward a few years and the picture is breathtakingly different. I haven’t made eye contact with my neighbours let alone smile or talk to them. Seven years separate my sister and me, and all she speaks in her class is a weird form of English with Hindi constructs thrown in liberally. "Vaise, as I was saying ki the movie is jhakaas...". Even the clerk at coffee day, who has Gowribidanur written all over his face, won't condescend to speak his own tongue.

So you have a Bangalore that is polarized into two groups. On the one hand you have the localites who can’t get over the nostalgia constipation, and in fairness are probably getting a little too xenophobic. We feel such a threat to our identity that we have to resort to bullying (like having the boards on the buses only in kannada or proposing a name that’s hard for the foreign tongue to pronounce) to get noticed. The less assertive folks like my parents have disowned this city and are looking forward to settling down in a place like Mysore. On the other hand you have the new arrivals who can’t seem to garner more respect for this city than they would for a brothel. “Let me be done with what I came here for and get out fast” seems to be the prevailing sentiment. Not that I suffer from any parochial angst, but just as a small display of their willingness to integrate, I would like to see a few more people going beyond the standard vocabulary that includes not more than 10 words (and that’s counting 'talk maadi' and 'drive maadi' as two separate verbs. I've even heard one dodo say 'do maadi').

And residing over the chaotic divisions is a sloth, the Chief Thief who was born without a neck and a brain, and is now puppeteered by another a**hole who looks exactly like a raagi mudde. Between them, they’ll have us believe that greater than all the problems we face here, is the crusade that they are trying to gear up support for. Bangalore or BengaLooru? Who the f*** cares!
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