It’s been a hot few weeks. Much hotter than usual. Twitter went berserk once people found that their apps were showing temperatures of 40°C for a city that has been teetering on the edge of 38 for a few years now. Of course, the met refused to bite and said it was only 37°C. Either way, it has been hot. Am sure you’ll agree if you’re in Bangalore and reading this.
I miss the April showers. I remember those years when the Fort High School concerts were headed to with one eye on the weather. An umbrella packed, and the car usually taken early to get parking. This time, the two times I went, I did take the car. The weather app promised rain. The first evening, I saw drops falling all over, but it did not rain. The second evening was plain dry.
There’s a different rhythm to the city now, something that I never associated with Bangalore. Afternoons were lazy, siesta inducing with the odd itinerant hawker pushing his cart and yelling in sing-song, crows doing lethargic crrrraaaaaws, instead of the stronger caws. You slept through whatever heat there was.
And when you woke up it would be post 4 PM when officially the heat would’ve subsided. And you can start your evening game of cricket. I cycled 23 kms, leaving at 4:45 PM, and returned at 6:15 PM. The temperature was close to 35 at the time of my return, drenched in sweat. Read that again. 35°C, at the time of sunset. Maybe we’re just retaining heat.
Amidst all this heat, people burned buses and autos demanding that their money be given back. The first day the news was about a huge traffic jam on Hosur Road near Electronic City. “Oh, someone was protesting there”, they said. The next day was more traffic jams all around the city, and “alternate arrangements”. Some months back, there was a traffic jam on Airport Road and “many people missed their flights”. The cause was secondary – farmers protesting. For water.
Sadly, things have reached a stage where we see every event in the city in terms of the traffic chaos it generates. Nothing else matters. “Do whatever you want, just don’t harm the traffic, ok?” They even built a park so that people who want can go there and protest without disrupting traffic.
Somehow, Traffic has become this monster that is subsuming the whole city and taking on its identity. Think Bangalore, think Traffic.
“Hey, there is this marathon being planned in the city”. “Oh, how will the traffic be?!”.
“There’s a jaathre for Ram Navami”. “Oh, Mysore Road will be blocked! Will be chaos.”
It was chaos. One hour to cross 3-4 kms from what I heard. What I did was to not turn up there, to cancel all plans of going that side. But of course, “how dare the traffic come in the way of my weekend at the mall?!”
When you’re always worried about getting home or getting to work in one piece, it is only natural that your biggest fear will take over the identity of the place you live in. And of course, with all these vehicles, and all those trees being cut down everywhere to accommodate these vehicles, and all those black tar roads, what else will you get but the weather to complain about?
We shape our cities based on our fears and insecurities, as much as by our lifestyles. What we have right now, is what we have created ourselves.