Monday, August 24

Local boy in the photograph

Just when I was on track to keep to my '2 posts a month' target, work amped up. And in Mumbai, once you have a significant amount of work, I'm not sure you have time for anything else, barring the commute. Which also means there's nothing to write about.

That is, until I was asked to go to Bangalore for a weekend TVC shoot. Now, I've always liked the city. Of course, it was a lovely little place about 2 decades ago. And it's neither little nor lovely any more. The combination of the IT boom, nefarious politicians and inept city planning have left their devastating mark on Bangalore. And bad as it is, I don't see it getting better any time soon. It takes way more than outraged tweets and open letters to bring about 'real' change anywhere and the same is true of Bean Town. Sadly, I'm not sure any well-wisher has that kind of power. So, every visit I make to Bangalore depresses me.

The filming location happened to be a devastatingly charming old house somewhere off Magrath Road, dripping in history and nostalgia in every nook and corner. I was particularly haunted by a drawing titled 'Musical Evening at Pottery Road' c 1975. It showed a group of people with various musical instruments having the time of their lives. And then it struck me that the scene had taken place 40 years ago, just around or before the Emergency happened (which closely affected the family who owned the place). For me it was heartbreaking to realise that the people, places and moments that made Bangalore such a quaint and lovely place have vanished. In fact, if you do a web search for Pottery Road, the news talks about how it is now struggling to deal with filth, potholes, local gundas and civic apathy.

Still, one of the few happy highlights of my trip was a visit to Toit, where I tasted the nicest beer in India (so far). The place itself is beautiful and vibrant and the jolly atmosphere brought on by excellent beer, great food and the plethora of stunningly cute women all over cheered me up considerably. It was a perfectly ordinary moment of people having a nice time on a warm Sunday afternoon. And yet, these moments are so rare.

I don't know about the future of the city, but hope Toit continues to do well. There's not much charm left in cities nowadays and places like Toit certainly help hold on whatever is left. And unless Bangalore wakes up and does something soon, its niceness will only live on in photos and paintings. And that would be a pity.

Song for the moment: Ordinary Lives - Bee Gees