Sep 5, 2014

Bangalore Diaries

‘Twenty rupees for a kilo, aunty’ said the vegetable vendor and I almost snapped at him ‘WHAT?’ To which he replied ‘tomatoes are expensive these days aunty’. An elderly neighbor who was buying vegetables from the same vendor told me that his vegetables were good and he charged reasonable prices, too. I told her that it was not the price of tomatoes but his AUNTY that made me react like this!

There I was, a newly married 26 years-old, and he, clearly in his forties, calling me Aunty! She explained that in Bangalore, that’s the way it is! And soon I learnt that calling all married women Aunty is not the only peculiar thing about Bangalore. There are many other things which are unique to Bangalore and its people.

For example, when you meet a local person, no matter what time of the day it is, the usual greeting is ‘Oota aaitha?’ which means, ‘did you have your meal?’ Even the housekeeping staffs who clean the corridors of our building ask me ‘Madam, kapi (coffee) aitha?’ if they happen to meet me early in the morning!

People here are really too concerned about your well-being, you might wonder. But the reality is far from that. I mean people here are very polite and decent, but don’t expect them to make small talk whenever you meet. Coming from the ‘adda culture’ of West Bengal, I met with not-so-enthusiastic responses when I tried to mingle with my neighbors, and found it somewhat disheartening. However, now I know that this is just the way people over here are- they are not cold or rude, they just keep to themselves!

And the English people speak here- I am yet to come across an Indian town or city which has so many people who speak WRONG English and that too with such conviction! Some examples are – ‘I was pick-upping the phone’ (which means I was picking up the phone), ‘She will always be calling my name’ (which means she calls my name all the time), ‘let me make it hot/cold’ (which means let me heat it/cool it). And I want to know what does ‘co-sister’ and ‘co-brother’ mean? I had never heard these words before I came to this city!

And yes, the famous Bangalore weather! I am sure you have heard people talking about the ‘Europe-like’ weather of Bangalore. It was June when I came to settle in Bangalore. And I saw all bikers wearing jackets, and found it really surprising, considering I come from Haldia, a small coastal town in West Bengal, where summers are hot and punishingly humid. And I thought that these people with jackets were really crazy!

But a few years down the line, I was dressing up my son also in hoodies IN JUNE because you can catch a cold even in June in Bangalore! Early mornings are cold, days are warm and sunny and the nights are cold- It is not just cold, it also rains a lot and is very windy most of the time. Whenever it rains, the winds become stronger and you find trees on the road sides falling – on cars, on people, on adjacent houses- have you ever seen trees fall so frequently in any other city? At least I haven’t!

I have now been in this city for more than a decade and have got pretty used to life here. With impertinent auto-drivers, bad roads, choc-a-bloc traffic, rising pollution on one side and  women with beautiful flowers in their hair, intricate kolams drawn in front of most houses, darshinis serving piping hot kapi and lots of greenery to soothe the eyes on the other side, Bangalore is every bit a charming city with its own quirks and delights. 


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