Picked this up on recommendation from Indhukka from Blossoms. Its a compilation of stories, essays, poems, translations from Kannada articles, but all with Bangalore as the motif. Happens to be my first book on Bangalore, and reading stories about a place you are so familiar with has been a totally different experience. You map the places and you place the characters in the right places and picture them walking around places you grew up around.
The stories and articles are vivid and varied. It starts off with history – articles on Kempegowda, translations of edicts etc. An article about a battle fought between Tipu and the British follows which holds you engrossed as it talks abput how the British came in from Halasuru ang Tipu rallied from Kengeri. Totally out of the world experience as you somehow end up imagining the armies walking along Mysore Rd, and fighting near Lido and Trinity circle. Its also weird to realize that all these places that you grow up around have seen so much history. For someone born in Delhi or Mysore I guess it might come naturally, but you don’t read so much history on Bangalore.
The second part is a compilation of various articles by authors like UR Ananthamurthy, Lankesh, Shashi Deshpande, RK Narayan etc. Some dealing with the conflicts that are part of everyday life in Bangalore, about how the city itself is changing, the rate of chnage, the Kannadiga identity, the famed cosmopolitanism etc, topics over which I spend long hours talking and arguing, trying to understand what is good, what is bad and where the lines lie when it comes to development as a concept, even what constitutes development. There is even a lovely excerpt translated from a Kannada novel, the story set in 1908. Absolutely beautiful, where a man comes in from Mysore and complains about things which kind of feel relevant to this day.
There is one by S Diwakar on Gandhibazar where he talks about the people who had walked the streets there, all the way from Masti and DVG to H Narasimhaiah and a very young Lankesh. Makes for really wonderful reading and is pretty humbling to note the names of all those authors, playwrights, artistes who had graced the seats of Vidyarthi Bhavan!
Still not done with it yet. But has been pretty enjoyable and enlightening. The sense of loss that most authors talk about when they look back over the years kind of makes me wonder if its something just about Bangalore or do we all always look back and say that time was better!