Let’s escape the din and chaos of the Bengaluru streets. Let’s go underground! Sounds nice? But who would want to go underground in Bangalore? Do you have such places which are not dark and dingy? Short answer is, yes! Sometimes it is right in front of you… but you tend to ignore it.
The project Bangalore Underground aims at exploring creative and better use of the public spaces like subways. And here is the slogan: Let’s escape chaos; Let’s go underground!
Curious? On August 17, just walk into one of the pedestrian subways near K R Circle, with friends and family. You will be greeted by art, music and dance. And you don’t pay a penny for ticket. Heartwarming fun, free of cost for you and your family!
So how did this happen? Let’s hear the story.
Unbearable stench and unusable subways
Bangalore has dozens of underground pedestrian subways, which are meant to avoid traffic and cross the road safely. However, you would be lucky to see such subways open to use.
If you get lucky and find an open subway, you will probably be greeted by the stench of urine and waterlogged or dusty floors. They repel pedestrians who prefer to cross the roads above ground, risking their lives. Here is a brief report by The Hindu on how the subways in Bangalore have been maintained so far.
One fine day someone decided to change this, with a two-way strategy: 1) Cleaning and fixing the loopholes in such subways 2) Encouraging more people to make use of them.
The Ugly Indian steps in
Bangalore’s own inspiring group, The Ugly Indian, with the help of Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike and hundreds of volunteers, changed the look and feel of the subways in two spot fixes. More photos and albums can be seen on The Ugly Indian facebook page.
The volunteers included an assortment of people, ranging from students from nearby colleges to employees of software firms to the visitors and participants of the recent TedX talk. It took two days of spotfixing, followed by the unseen thankless job of cleaning by BBMP workers to set right six subways between K R Circle and Cubbon Park. Bangalore Mayor Satyanarayana also took part in the spotfixes.
Once clean, these subways were endorsed for maintenance by Bangalore Rising, another citizens’ team, through Namma Bengaluru Nanna Koduge (NBNK) programme, in which private players are allowed to adopt government properties for maintenance. Thus a neglected public space finally got some attention.
The next step: By the public, for the public!
Making the pedestrian subways more usable and attractive that provide an pleasurable experience to passers-by is the next agenda. The Bangalore Underground project, to begin with, will organise The Bangalore Underground Festival. This will be held on Sunday, August 17, at the six cleaned pedestrian subways between Cubbon Park and K R Circle, from 7am to 12 noon.
The facebook page for this unique underground public festival says: “6 subways are available for Music, Dance, Art, Exhibitions, Children’s events and whatever else YOU want to do. Calling all artists, musicians, dancers, photographers, performers and anyone who wants to perform/exhibit/demonstrate at the festival – this is your chance!”
If you are an artiste and need an audience or want to participate, post your interest on the facebook page, or write to firstname.lastname@example.org, to let the organisers know what you would like to do.
The page says that this is an initiative by the public, for the public, with all events being free and non-commercial.
This is probably the never-heard of, first-of-its-kind effort in India, in which public take interest in the public spaces around them, maintain it and make it vibrant for the public benefit, with co-operation from the government. And what could be a better symbolic way to celebrate independence day season?
Being The Ugly Indian: It’s all about fixing whatever we can
A guide to taking charge of your neighbourhood – The Ugly Indian way
Bangalore rising, inspired by The Ugly Indian
The Ugly Indian releases blackspot fixing report card