Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Winds of change...

I drive through the notorious Silk Board junction twice everyday.
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?


Hariharan said...

Don't feel discriminated ... I can't even tell you how bad my last encounter with some eunuchs in the train was !! Feel lucky that they ignore you !!

DreamCatcher said...

Do write about your experience.I guess I should consider my self lucky then :) but this group has always fascinated me...their socio-economic dynamics are very unique.

Shreyasi Deb said...

The post is interesting observation on the socio-economic change in the life of a growing urban settlement!

I can understand your experience given that I have been an observer of some such events too. But a lot also happens because of our stereotypical image of transgender people. I have worked with them and have shared their joys and tears, they are as less or as much human like all of us.
Just like a normal human being would challenge when the world doesnt accept them with a note of being evil, so do most transgender people and then some of them try to take advantage of it too....well I can write reams on this one, close to my heart so will stop here!Just request you to look without blinkers on

DreamCatcher said...

SD: some day soon the world would have to learn to become more inclusive...I have always admired their survival instinct...what do you do when the world shuns and labels you as below dirt? You fight back...with guts...with bravado...cause that all you are left with. I admire their 'on-your-face' attitude. I love their so-you-though-you-could-write-me-off stance.I cheer when I see people squirm and give in to their demands...I so wish I had the guts..

RustyNeurons said...

The guts need not translate into causing inconvenience to others, which often happens when these people are around.
Of course, the blame lies with us, the government, the society - for having not given the chance to lead their lives as normally as you and me. (if we can call it normal!)

Shubhojit said...

Oh u want the eunuchs to come to u. I've got quite a few of them hounding me on the signals. Have had a lot of encounters with them. People pay up bcos they want to avoid all their nasty antics. But whether u miss it or not, beggers on the signals is definitely not a gr8 thing to happen.

DreamCatcher said...

SJ: Definitely its not a great thing. We all know that. But the question is are we doing enough to address the issue? And eunuchs are as much or less human as us. I have never felt uncomfortable with them...wonder why they hound YOU..hmmn!

DreamCatcher said...

Rusty: You are right. We are to blame for marginalizing certain groups who are different from us. Therefore, it is up to us to set it right. Everyone deserves a life with dignity if nothing else..