My home, my city, my love – Bengaluru

I was born in a small nursing home on DVG road in 1990. It has shut down now. The last time I checked, I was told there is a PG for women there now. My parents treated everyone who came to see their firstborn to a masala dosey at Vidyarthi Bhavana. The same Vidyarthi Bhavana my dad and uncle used to frequent when they were teenagers. They used to visit the dodda Ganesha temple on Bull Temple road and collect the prasada  –  some flowers and half a coconut. The theory back then was that the other half was sold to Vidyarthi Bhavana by the priests. So, technically the chutney served there was prasada too. Two masala dosas and one by-two coffee cost them a rupee back then, my dad says. Now, it costs a hundred rupees I think.

The city he grew up in — it had people cycling to colleges, schools, work… the running joke as the population increased was that Bangalore’s weather was so amazing that people would come from villages near and far to witness the yearly spectacle that is the karaga, and thanks to the cool showers around the time, they’d decide to stay back in the city of boiled beans — bendakaaLuru. The four towers that Kempegowda erected were meant to serve as markers denoting the borders of the city. Slowly, they stopped serving that purpose.

By the time I was born, the city was still a garden city. We had a few industries and amazing weather. There weren’t any traffic woes. We had lovely lakes and enough rainfall to keep everyone happy. I remember going from my house in Banashankari to MG road in less than half an hour. Yep, that’s how it was.

An aerial view of MG Road. Pic: Vinu Thomas, Wikimedia Commons* 

Then it happened. IT happened. So many jobs were created. So many new buildings. Offices, apartments, homes, schools, hotels, hospitals and restaurants were built to start accommodating the newest Bengalureans. Trees were cut down, lakes were filled up and roads expanded. It needed to be done. The city was expanding at such a rapid rate that there seemed to be no better option.

All the engineering colleges and early IT companies gave rise to a talent pool envied all across the globe. So, when the startup revolution reached India, it was Bengaluru that became the natural destination. The talent pool was and remains to this day one of the biggest factors that led to this responsibility and privilege; however, there are several more factors.

Every time I land at the KIAL, I’m spoken to in Hindi and English. Not the language that I and the drivers speaking to me are most comfortable with;  that would be Kannada. On every cab ride I take and every bus I board, everyone is spoken to in their own tongue. That is who we are as a people. We make others feel at home, and adapt our homes to suit how we imagine theirs to be. We have food from every part of the country and world imaginable, because we have people from all those parts, who have settled down here and made Bengaluru their home. All of us earn our living thanks to the amazing populace we are surrounded by. The city has given us several chances and unfortunately, some of us forget this once in a while.

Don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of things about Bengaluru that can and should be criticised. The rents are always increasing. The traffic makes people want to kill themselves. The garbage problem is unbearable and the cost of living is getting worse each day. Constructive criticism and protests are the way forward, and we must do whatever it takes to restore Bangalore to its past glory while keeping its progress intact.

What irks me is ingratitude. The ingratitude of a special kind you see from people who are what they are today at least partly because of Bengaluru and Bengalureans. People who know how to praise other cities and towns using only one route — by hating on Bengaluru. Why would you do that? It is completely possible to praise another city without speaking ill about a city that took you in and helped you become what you are today.

Here, let me show you: Hyderabad has amazing roads. Mumbai’s people are just superb. Delhi has extraordinary food. Kolkata’s culture is top-notch. Chennai has knowledgeable citizens. See? I praised all those places quite honestly without having to compare them to Bengaluru in any way.

It’s easy to criticise that which is our own. Our family. Our home. Our city. Our country. To acknowledge those who have aided us in our journey so far is equally easy and is a lot more satisfying. Hatred is truly taxing. Ask me, I enjoyed writing the first three paragraphs of this post more than I enjoyed writing the last six. All of them were equally effortless though. Mainly because this is straight from the heart. If I’ve offended anyone, walk to your closest darshini and ask for a strong filter coffee. You’ll feel better.

This article was first published on medium.com, and has been republished here with the author’s permission.

*Picture credit: By Vinu Thomas from Bangalore, India (MG Road)
[CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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About Nikhil Jois 0 Articles
Nikhil is the co-founder and CEO of www.eventosaur.com — a curated services marketplace for Indian events.

6 Comments

  1. A very timely post and worth the attention of every person ranting on Citizen matters. Having spent a substantial time outside Karnataka and experienced the status that those places give to their primary language, I do see a difference in the treatment of Kannada in Bangalore.

    Our office holiday calendar says Nov 1st is Haryana/Karnataka day and not “Karnataka Rajyotsava”; Jan 15th was “Pongal” and not “Makara Sankranti”. Loud conversations in office elevators are in other languages. Apartments celebrate Onam with pomp and fervour and Lohri with a bonfire, but not a breath is wasted for a Sankranti or a Yugadi. Community e-mails refer to the neighborhood cable operators, water suppliers and milk delivery guys with the uniform tag “Local Goondas”. We regularly encounter people (long time residents) who don’t know even a small sample of the language or worse are not aware which South Indian language comes from which state.

    These experiences are jarring to the ear and do bring up the question “Are we different? Should we act like the people of xyz city in defending the local culture?” Perhaps this is the reason Bangalore is different, a preferred destination and a welcoming place to so many…

  2. Oh, c’mon! This is an essay from a closet racist (casteist? Cityist? Languageist)! What was the point of this article? Just replace “Bengaluru and Bengalurians” with “Whites” and you will have your answer! Better read Orwell and about his experiences.

    Do people in non-English speaking countries speak to you in their language? They attempt to talk in English because they are businessmen and want your business – taxi, trade, whatever.

    It is seems true that each city or locality has its collective character, but it is nothing like you state. Criminals are criminals everywhere and good people are good.

    I think you need to blame the politicians for most of the ills (and guess where they are from?) – and this goes for every city and state.

    Cheer up! It’s a BAD BAD BAD world!

  3. Hi Nikhil.. First of all, a beautifully written piece. : ) …

    However, let me also add an “outside in” perspective.. I am an “outsider”. Came to Bangalore about 13 years ago. I have studied , lived and worked here for about 11 years. My career also includes stints across India, including Kolkata, Mumbai and NCR.

    1) You are in a minority. I havent really come across someone so polite when it comes to talking to someone who isnt from Bangalore / Karnataka
    2) Believe me when i say this, a lot of us, are deeply humble when it comes to the impact that Bangalore has had on our lives. Both personal and professional.
    3) Having said the above, let me also assure you, there is no shortage of people (sadly, even so called educated ones), who do continue to discriminate against us even today (I am by no means implying it doesnt happen in other cities, but merely going by your article). I have been abused verbally, kicked out of well to do establishments etc. for being a non-Kannadiga.

    Why I dont know even now! I am a simple middle class man trying to work hard to provide for my family. In no way do I disrespect the locals or their culture (the motto being live and let live). I remember one incident specifically… In my initial days in Bangalore, I made the effort to learn Kannada (simply because i wanted to be able to talk in the local language and connect more with people, and also because i wanted to learn a new language). I remember trying to talk to someone in a hotel in Kannada, and unfortunately mispronounced a word. I was abused post that and literally everyone there started laughing at me. It was deeply embarrassing for me and the family. I gave up after that to be honest…

    And lastly… its a pleasant surprise people like you exist in Bangalore : ).

    Thank you, cheers and have a great day mate!

  4. Well i think population increase is the main problem which city has due to which rest all problems have arised like bad roads, garbage problem , increase in pollution and cost of living. And IT is the main reason for this population increase.Bangalore is flooding with new companies and new people coming here for jobs. IT companies should establish branches all over the country to evenly distribute the hired people.

  5. Hmmm… I would think we all need to get with the program 🙂 …. World is changing, it is not just Bangalore every city feels the same… the cities are overrun with people from other states and even countries.. but that is the beauty especially of Bangalore. Having lived in most cities, Bangalore is truly cosmopolitan without the parasites and diseases that plague the metros…Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai… Kolkata ( has unfortunately lost its relevance in the modern world) … Bangalore can be hated, loathed, compared and may not have the best infrastructure but it is where the open minded and highly evolved people create , innovate, tolerate and appreciate the modernity of our present and future, where we have less interference from religious and cultural elements who think everything should be stagnant. Of course, I agree that the element of Bangalore identity is Kannada, and no one should forget that. (It is rich coming from me who is also an immigrant 🙂 but i learned the language so I can appreciate my new home to the fullest). I do dislike the arrogance of folks who begin their conversation in Hindi in my day today life… I wished they all became true Bangaloreans… As a parting thought, the folks who come to Bangalore are not compelled to come to Bangalore, In their heart of hearts everyone knows, Bangalore is where they would want to be and not their native homes. So, let the comments come in, but if you live in Bangalore, this is your city to make it the best city in this country, which I believe it is so today 🙂

  6. Dont blame them, blame yourself of being so polite and now they are kicking all of us bangaloreans.. next time answer in Kannada and rent to kannadiga only..see the difference instead of you blaming support our people..

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