Bastion of Kannada and culture

One should also remember the other good men and women of the locality. If not for doctors of the area who treated diseases of our childhood ( Drs. BV Ramaswamy, AS Ramaswamy Dhruvnarain, Susai Royan, Acharya et cetra ), one wonders whether one would have been alive to write an account of those days! Social workers like MR Lakshamma, PR Jayalakshamma, TR Shamanna, VS Krishna Iyer, Annayya, Dayananda Sagar et cetra contributed to the betterment of the people in the area.

As somebody who lived here in the early days, and returned after more than four decades (after living in various parts of India and the US), it has to be said that it has kept the Kannada culture safe and alive- a matter of great pride. This is probably the only place in the city where one could speak only in Kannada and get away with it. It is also a highly literate constituency, which celebrates our cultural heritage lavishly but unfortunately quite indifferent to the infrastructural inadequacies in the area.

It was actually the annual groundnut festival (Kadlekai parishe) in Basavanagudi which sent me into these reveries. When we went there in the evening a week ago, we were put off by the huge rush of people. In the earlier days, there were only groundnut sellers during the festival. But now, there are various other shops, not to mention a small merry go round. The fair has also been hijacked by politicians of all hues. Maybe, I was hallucinating when I saw an elephant and a bull talking to each other on one of those high rocks in the Bugle Rock park in the dusk. The two major deities presiding over this locality must have felt suffocated in their respective sanctum sanctorums (garbhagriha), having had enough of the people and ‘progress’ around them and come out for fresh air!

The author welcomes pointers to incorrect information if any or any other lapses.

13 Comments

  1. Dr Ajith B Rayan has written : Well written article on my Basavangudi. Thanks for remembering Dr Susai Royan.. Dr Rayan, thanks for the comments. Many people of those days remember r Susai Rayana Dn Anbu Pillai.

  2. i studied in GURUKULAM,which was located near Abalasram,in DVG Road. It was later renamed as New Model Middle School.The discipline was very high

  3. Great article. All of it is only memories now. I still continue to live in Basavangudi, but it is not the same anymore. All you get to see now are rows and rows of cars parked in front of residences, constant honking, irrated commuters, huge commercial complexes instead of those small stores….it has now become a sorry shadow of its former self and nobody is intersted in preserving Basavgudi’s rich culture.

  4. Sri Masti used to go to Service club opposite the post office (I think it was called Iyer hall). Sri B.M.Srinivsayya (of BMS COLLEGE fame) ran the Prajamata press which also published Janavani, an evening paper as Mr Ramamurthy has correctly said. As for Subbamma Stores, I do not know how old it is. Mr Ramamurthy, Thank you for bringing these to our attention. Talking of Masti, I remember once Masti and Bendre (both Jnanpeeth winners) strolling in our area. Like very close friends, they had arms around each other’s shoulders and were making jokes and laughing.

  5. Does the article mention the club where Masti would play cards and Prajamatha press who published the first Kannada eveninger and the most popular weekly of those days, Prajamatha in Telugu as well as Kannada? And of course a landmark in woman enterprise, Subbammana angdi which endures to this day ? Controversial but true, some of the shops there are still under the control of tenants who pay a pittance by way of rent .It is certainly a slice of Bangalore, with a few remnants of the old surviving the challenges of time.

  6. I work in this area. It’s beautiful. Some places and some people here will make you feel like you have travelled back in time to a simpler, better life. Simply love it. Thanks for writing about Basavanagudi.

  7. A sequel by you would be very interesting, Siri Srinivas. something like “Basavangudi these days”? Thanks a lot for your comment

  8. This is so lovely! I shall join the long list of people who will readily identify with the places mentioned.

    It was only on meeting people from the other Bangalore(as I will call it irreverently) that I began recognising(and carefully listing) the paradigms of South-Bangalore-ness:

    One had to have grown up on family outings to Vidyarthi Bhavan(A place visited by nostalgic patrons sometimes staggering in straight from the airport), one had to go through a lost-and-found-ritual during frantic pre-festival shopping on DVG road. One had to have a relative who was an ardent admirer/student of HN. One had to solemnly present one’s 10th Board Exam admit card at the venerable Dodda Ganesha temple while hoping fervently to be admitted into the opposite BMSCE two years hence. One could also drop in at the Bangalore Science Forum and seriously consider pursuing a science degree. Or being led into The Indian Institute of World Culture’s lectures by a persistent grandparent!

    Like some sort of checklist to prove our South-Bangalore-ness. 🙂

  9. I am glad you could relate to the article, Poornima Dasharathi. Change is the way of life and it is necessary. But the way it is taking place is what worries people.

  10. Thanks for the story. I could understand much of what you have described because of the nostalgic stories from my father.
    Once while weaving through the thick traffic in Gandhibazaar Gavipuram area, he was quite excited about an old tree, on which he used to play as a kid with his friends. It set all of us in a lighter mood in spite of the jam.
    About the deities, I’m sure many other deities in the city temples’ want a breather. Vijaynagar’s Maruti Mandir for example was earlier just a koti bande for many years until..

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