One who isn’t familiar with Bangalore, may wonder why this particular crossroad deserves any mention at all. Allow me to explain.
This intersection on the Hosur Road is a vital connect to Electronic city, which is one of the key IT districts. It also connects two large residential layouts and leads to the Outer Ring Road, which is fast becoming the leading IT corridor around the city with large infrastructure projects all along the highway. To ease the confusion and the frustrating traffic snarl, the BDA constructed a CSD (Central Silk Board) Flyover, which I learned is the widest flyover in the country with anti-skid coating and provision for rain-water harvesting. That it took BDA a full two years to get this functional causing enormous inconvenience to the residents and travelers can be veiled under its imposing glory. The latest construction activity is an ‘elevated highway’ which will extend this flyover further.
Now, this post wasn’t meant to focus on Bangalore’s ripping-at-seams infrastructure.
Reams have been written about the transformation of Bangalore from Pensioner’s paradise to a Silicon Valley. But I have very different take on this change.
I have noticed with fascination the changing profiles of the beggars operating on the Silk board junction traffic halt. The average ten minutes traffic signal, allows me the luxury of such observations.
When we first moved in to this part of town a couple of years back, I always met an old man at the traffic lights and though I never gave money (I am against the concept), we always exchanged smiles. Occasionally, I carried some old clothes, used bed sheets and woollens and he accepted them gracefully and never failed to smile. He was benign, gentle, and never made any extraordinary effort to beg, happy with whatever he collected. A reflection of old Bangalore.
When I returned from Mumbai, after a year, the old man had disappeared.
He was replaced by a new breed of aggressive, younger crowd from the rural heartland (apparent from their dialect). When I enquired about the old man, they shrugged casually and moved away, realizing I hold no potential as a customer. With this crowd, began the trend of ‘teamwork’ as opposed to ‘lone ranger’.
Then came the ‘Lambardis’. Hoards of them. Swirling skirts. Babies covered with grim. Young girls doing cartwheels. Squabbling mothers. Noisy folks. They swarmed the crossroad, taking over the entire stretch and pushing out the other group. They lasted longer than the rest. And towards the later part some of them had morphed into entrepreneurs selling useful items like boxes of tissues or packets of cotton earbuds.
The latest arrival is a band of eunuchs. Raunchy. Garish. Loud. Abrasively entertaining. Not surprisingly these guys (guys?!) are the most successful lot if one calculated the group's per capita income. Bikers, car drivers, auto drivers, waiting pedestrians, irrespectively dole out money even before they are actually asked. And this happens everyday. At the traffic lights, these folks give me a cursory look from far and ignoring my existence, proceed towards the profitable male prospects.
Should I feel discriminated against?
I am not sure how long they will last here, but, with their arrival, Bangalore has most definitely arrived as a metropolis of enviable stature. Applause anyone?