‘Multiple City’ is a collection of writings on Bangalore, edited by Aditi De, independant writer, columnist and editor. It includes a selection of Bangalorean experiences – with verse, translations, fiction, and non fiction accounts and as Aditi says "celebrates the spirit of Bangalore".
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During the book reading at Crosswords book store, Aditi mentioned about how she got into compiling this anthology; a friend from Penguin publishers had asked her what she thought of Bangalore and she wondered if Bangalore could be considered a city at all. The stories in the book trace the different facets of Bangalore – a city that was once part of the Mysore state, a cantonment town, a pensioners paradise and recently a globally known city.
Aditi shared some thoughts on the book and being Bangalorean, in an email conversation with Citizen Matters.
Any personal favourites from the stories in ‘Multiple City’?
I like each piece for the untold stories behind that went into the making/ shaping of each.
Do you have any interesting reader responses in the past couple of months?
Dozens so far. A professor of religion from Oberlin University, Ohio, in the US just called to tell me she loved the detailing of the book. She read just a piece or a poem each night. With each new voice, she found another aspect of the city, according to her! She was surprised by Winston Churchill’s connection with the city, as much as by the Gandhi stories.
A noted Kannada scholar was delighted by the Kannada selections in the anthology, and by the quality of the translations.
The narrations are from mostly people of literary/educated background. Did you consider including voices from other sections of society?
Siddalingaiah’s experiences at the Gopalaswamy Iyer Hostel do represent a respected Dalit voice. Jeremy Seabrook writes about how the slum-dwellers of Lakshmipuram battled the powers-that-be for survival. Don’t those represent the other face?
You have covered varied subjects from art & culture to folktales. What do you consider your forte?
Anything that gives me joy within the world of the word. But I enjoy pottery and poetry, yoga and conversations just as much.
You have said since you didn’t grow up here, you don’t share the old-timers’ sense of loss. But are you comfortable about the changes in the past 16 years you have been here?
I may not be comfortable with the changes, but these are inevitable in a city that’s been booming over the past 16 years. There’s been a huge influx of folks from other cities, other countries. Remember, the population here has grown from 1.5 to seven million in barely three decades!!
Do you sense any change in the outlook of Bangaloreans with the growth?
I feel these are contradictions built into cityscapes around India. Aren’t the stories of Delhi or Mumbai, Kolkata or Chennai very similar?
How long did it take to see yourself as a Bangalorean?
About two years or so. In the beginning, I was constantly homesick for my friends and family in Chennai. Then, I began to like the weather here, then the incredible fruits available round the year (yes, I’m a fruit-o-holic!). But it was my caring, giving Bangalore friends who finally gave me reasons enough to call this home.