In spite of the downers, Bengaluru is always a charmer
As the year draws to a close, it is usually a time to sit back and reflect a bit. Not only on whether you have been especially naughty or nice this year, or which way you want 2016 to go, but also on where and how we are living. And about the city that we are living in.
We are, of course in Bangalore, now known as Bengaluru. Much has happened here in the last year, some of it good, a lot of it bad. I leave it to others to draw up lists of vital must-note events as year-enders. I’m somewhat more concerned about the state of our city. “Whatever happened to Bangalore?” I’ve been asked repeatedly on trips out of town. What, indeed? But bad traffic, garbage, good weather, Cubbon Park and corruption are not the only things there are to the city. There is more. Much more. A certain je ne sais quoi, which makes it stand out from other cities.
For one, there’s an enduring, genuine love for the arts. Dance, art, music and theatre have always been part of the city’s DNA. That, says artist Jaya Javeri, is the biggest plus point. “People in Bangalore come to see art because they love it,” she says, “The love for art – and all the arts – has grown in the last 20 years and I’ve watched it happen. When I moved here from Mumbai I wasn’t sure if my art would be appreciated here. But I’m grateful the city has embraced it so openly. Bangalore is a true melting pot of cultural and artistic forms.”
Former cricketer, conservationist and author Saad bin Jung who’s lived in Bangalore for over 30 years, and watched the city change over time has a wider perspective. “Yes, governance has become worse, but people have changed for the better. There is so much diversity in the city today, so much acceptance too – and yes, there is great weather! What was once a small army cantonment has evolved into a cosmopolitan city which gives you time, space, makes you feel youthful. It has also developed a soul.”
Photographer Waseem Khan agrees with Saad about the city’s soul. “When you photograph thousands of girls and then discover one with that X factor — that quality can only be defined as soul. In my 32-year-long career, cities like Mumbai, Singapore, Melbourne and Paris have beckoned. I could have moved anywhere. But Bangalore is my home. It’s not only where my studio, my home and my family are based. The city has that certain something which goes beyond its weather or its people – it’s indefinable. And if there’s chaos today, it’s what we have caused ourselves. Bangalore is what it is – a special city with a soul.”