'I am leaving Bangalore,' I told her, 'I am flying to Bombay this April.'
I felt a thrill when I said it. This was the logical culmination of a misbegotten journey. Someone once told me that the human mind is quintessentially relativistic; that there is a place and an era that remains frozen in our memories, and our subsequent views on the world and how it should be, Weltanschauung if you will, are inevitably a reflection of this image. The image that I hopelessly cling to is of Bangalore in the nineties, back when IT was short for income tax and the City of a Thousand Gardens lived up to its flattering sobriquet. Electronic City, that eyesore on Hosur Road, was up and about, but it was still dwarfed by the then-massive presence of the Hulimavu and Begur lakes. Mota Arcade was the city's sole embarrassing excuse for a shopping mall and Whitefield was not considered a part of Bangalore (It never will be either, but I will save that for another rant). It was this city, a transitional blur in the memories of most people, that I grew up in.
You know you are doing something wrong when you walk around spouting phrases like, 'back in my day' and 'those were the times' at the grand old age of twenty three. And yet, it is the predicament I now find myself in. I deserted my hometown in 1997 and returned thirteen years later to find an agglomeration of yuppies from far and wide. Gentrification works wonders in a country like ours where money is easily spent but hard to come by, but is it ever worth the price we pay in cultural bereavement?
I was planning to write something schmaltzy- a nice, cloying piece about my hometown and how much I will miss it. Sadly, I just can't. I don't recognize this city any more. As much as it pains me to admit it, I can't wait to move out. To fly away. To break out of the complex web I have woven around myself over the last twenty odd months. To stop trying to find shadows of the city I loved in this alien concrete jungle.
I can see why people flock in hordes to the new Bangalore. I can see why Church Street, with its bazillion pubs, is the most popular hangout in the country. Sadly, I have had the misfortune of knowing the place for longer than most people- Church Street, in my head, is still a quaint alley where coffee-shops and bookstores stand cheek by jowl.
I am sorry, Bangalore. I thought it would be fun. It wasn't. As a great man once said, it's not you. It's me.