The Life & Times of a City that was Once Bangalore

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful city called Bangalore. It was calm, peaceful and boasted of salubrious weather throughout the year. And then the unforeseen happened. The city was struck by bad governance, corruption and an uncontrolled growth of the concrete jungle. What followed is traffic jams, garbage piles at every corner and poor infrastructure support for the common man. Not to forget the dwindling green spaces, that once earned the city the title of “Garden city”.

I still remember the day I left Bangalore in 2005. As my flight took off from the old Bangalore airport, I had tears in my eyes. This was the city I grew up in. I distinctly remember cycling down the by lanes of Indiranagar, without any fear of being hit by a speeding car. Or sitting atop in the double decker bus travelling till Shivaji Nagar, just for the heck of it!!  I would walk to school hand in hand with my buddy Vidya, chatting away about teachers, boys and all other things that concerned our lives. This was the city that gave me my first job, my first salary, my first date, and many other firsts… After eleven years, I went back this summer to what was once my home town. A month later, I had tears yet again in my eyes. But this time around, it wasn’t nostalgia. It was pain- to see that what was once a beautiful city is now nothing but an overcrowded and noisy place.

Way back in the eighties, I lived close to CMH road in Indiranager, in a palatial family bungalow. And the only big store on CMH road then was the MK Ahmed Store, This well-lit store practically supplied all the light to a major portion of the road. And when MK Ahmed would shut by 8pm (yes shops closed by 8 pm then), CMH road would wear a deserted look, except for a few stray vehicles.

Being a product of the prestigious St. Josephs College, which then was on Residency road (the heritage building), I was lucky to be in proximity to some of the best standalone theatres of Bangalore. Rex Theatre on Brigade road – for those latest Hollywood movies.

Plaza- old and quirky looking, I remember watching the Mummy here for Rs. 20.

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Image Source: Flickr

Symphony Theatre (well before it was renamed Shankarnag Chitra Mandira) was for the latest Hindi movies. And ofcourse my all-time favorite Lido theatre(I think it has become a thriving mall now). How could I forget Galaxy theatre and huddled behind it was Corner House which served Death by Chocolate for Rs. 50 then. Galaxy theatre shut down years back , but I still remember the red carpets on the slop that led to the balcony seats.

MG Road began from Cauvery Handicrafts for shoppers, extending till Chinnaswamy stadium.

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Technically the road began from Trinity Circle. However, the big stores of MG road began only from Cauvery Handicrafts. I remember Gangaram’s book bureau on MG road that would sell practically any book you could think of. At the junction of Mayo Hall was my favorite heritage hotel called Victoria. You could have the most sumptuous Sunday brunch here. Sadly today, in its place stands Bangalore Central Mall.

Family outings meant, a train ride on Puttani express in Cubbon Park, or a walk in Lalbagh, followed by dinner at MTR and an ice cream from Lake View on MG Road.

Lake view was the first of its kinds to serve Drive-in.

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This was considered a cool outing. Oh not to forget, the butter masala dosa at Airlines hotel near Lavelle road and the annual visit to the HHF fair(Hindustan Handloom Fair) on RBANMS ground to enjoy the Giant wheel and Tora Tora rides.

The old airport served as a sort of marking for the city. Areas beyond this especially were considered outskirts. Marathahalli was in its truest sense a village which many in Bangalore hadn’t even heard off. And Whitefield was only a station that I saw when on my return train journey from Chennai.

Utility building was the only sky scrapper and shopping here was considered splurging.

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Image Source: Wiki

The red colored BTS buses were used by many as a means of transport irrespective of the financial status. The brown Pushpak buses were a luxury. You could travel to any part of the city by reaching Shivajinagar bus terminal or the Bangalore bus station.

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But then all this was way back. Bangalore today is a burgeoning city. In our quest to create a world-class city, we have erected malls, constructed flyovers, and built apartment complexes at every corner. But in the bargain we have actually lost what once was a charming and beautiful city. Bangalore may probably never regain its lost glory. The only thing I could hope for is not push it to a limit where it may just crumble and collapse under the weight of bad governance and poor infrastructure projects.

55 comments

  1. I feel sad reading your post. I came here in 2005 and the city now looks changed. When I came there was no Manyata tech Park, no mall other than forum and I also lived on the CMH road walking to 100 feet all the time. No speeding vehicles and parks all over. My manager once warned me to travel alone on inner ring road. If I can feel it , I am sure it pains you.

  2. I feel sad reading your post. I came here in 2005 and the city now looks changed. When I came there was no Manyata tech Park, no mall other than forum and I also lived on the CMH road walking to 100 feet all the time. No speeding vehicles and parks all over. My manager once warned me to travel alone on inner ring road. If I can feel it , I am sure it pains you.

  3. I’m sad to read this post, too. I visited Bangalore in 2004-05 and have many fond memories of what was then a friendly city, easy to walk around, with great bookshops and relaxed local restaurants.

  4. I’m sad to read this post, too. I visited Bangalore in 2004-05 and have many fond memories of what was then a friendly city, easy to walk around, with great bookshops and relaxed local restaurants.

  5. I totally hear you. Although I moved here only 5 years ago, the fast-paced changes (for the worse) leave me worried and sad. The traffic, pollution, and crowd are getting worse by the day and if I, a newbie, can spot the difference, I can only imagine the pain of the old-timers.

  6. I totally hear you. Although I moved here only 5 years ago, the fast-paced changes (for the worse) leave me worried and sad. The traffic, pollution, and crowd are getting worse by the day and if I, a newbie, can spot the difference, I can only imagine the pain of the old-timers.

  7. It sounds more and more like Mumbai now. Except that it still has better weather. Thank God for small mercies, right?

    1. Haha, Shantala, my thoughts exactly. I remember our Bangalore visits to meet cousins every summer vacation and I remember it just like how you have described it, Ramya!

  8. It sounds more and more like Mumbai now. Except that it still has better weather. Thank God for small mercies, right?

    1. Haha, Shantala, my thoughts exactly. I remember our Bangalore visits to meet cousins every summer vacation and I remember it just like how you have described it, Ramya!

  9. Sometimes nostalgia does hurt and ouch …I can vouch for the garden city and the garbage city in equal measure having spent a good quarter of a century…

  10. Sometimes nostalgia does hurt and ouch …I can vouch for the garden city and the garbage city in equal measure having spent a good quarter of a century…

  11. I enjoyed reading the before and after views of Bangladore. Change is hard, isn’t it? A friend of mine is a scholar of India and last summer we attended a writing workshop together in which she wrote a lot about change in India — from the leadership to the cities. My own hometown has also changed so much — Columbus, Ohio — that it is barely recognizable. Some good, some bad. Thanks for sharing your perspective on what clearly was a beloved home.

  12. I enjoyed reading the before and after views of Bangladore. Change is hard, isn’t it? A friend of mine is a scholar of India and last summer we attended a writing workshop together in which she wrote a lot about change in India — from the leadership to the cities. My own hometown has also changed so much — Columbus, Ohio — that it is barely recognizable. Some good, some bad. Thanks for sharing your perspective on what clearly was a beloved home.

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