I think what is most attractive about Bangalore is its openness to people- the ease with which it accommodates people. It is a city that has always welcomed migrants. Contrary to other places that I have visited in India, there is nothing that Bangalore claims for its very own. It is in fact, a city that is constructed from the multiple cultures and lifestyles it accommodates. So what you finally have is a very cosmopolitan environment- an environment where every individual of every class and creed can find his independent place. This freedom is a luxury in a country like India. By virtue of this attribute, the city provides its people a very broad perspective to life, for the exposure is to a huge spectrum. This cosmopolitan outlook defines a Bangalorean.
Because of its openness to people, it has always been at the heart of change. It is an ever-changing city, and the change is palpable.
The change is evident in the very structural framework of the city. For a person who witnessed the city in its 90s, the makeover is dramatic. The very routemap of the city has changed, what with all the one ways, flyovers, underpasses and the ring road that has expanded across a significant circumference of the city. The city brags of a metro now, though very little of it is functional. The BMTC buses have evolved a long way from their initial status. Spaces in the city have been gobbled up by plush corporate offices, apartments, malls and branded stores. In fact, there is hardly any vestige of familiarity.
To me, the most appealing part of the city’s change is the change in the mindset of is people. I think the greatest advantage of living in a big city that is dynamic is the growth it takes you through, on account of the challenges you face. Of course, the associated stress is sometimes a heavy price to pay. But in my conversations with people this time, what was most evident to me was that people have expanded their horizons of thought significantly. As you struggle to survive in this city, to deal with the day-to-day challenges it offers, to match up to its lifestyle, to cope with the standards of work and update yourself professionally and personally, you grow tremendously as an individual. You build personal and professional goals and that becomes your drive. I find this significantly lacking in small towns, where I find people less motivated, on the whole. In fact, the very lifestyle of a community is significantly influenced by these factors. Relaxation and recreation in Bangalore is driven by the need to unwind and rejuvenate from the stresses of work. People socialize in the evenings…people actually indulge in food and drink and develop a taste for it….the conversations around the table are so rejuvenating. Evenings are quite a treat in this city for the very mood is infectious and the nights are long. People also indulge in their hobbies/interests actively as a means of unwinding. The city thus has avenues for people to indulge and explore themselves. On the contrary, in the small towns, people often lack a yardstick for growth. I find the average individual much more bored and demotivated than his counterpart in a growing city. Even socializing and eating out is driven by boredom- this mood is heavily reflected in the cafes and food joints. In fact, life was more beautiful in these little towns when they retained the rural touch of a bygone era.
It would be interesting to do a feature on Bangalore- on the actual scenario of its change. To look at how Bangaloreans from different backgrounds and industries perceive this change. What the city has achieved and what it has lost. Perhaps next year….