A walk through Old Bengaluru

As I stepped out of the Chikpete Metro station, I saw a different world. For a moment, I felt as if the place is stuck in a time warp. Somewhere between yesterday and the day before. The only modern touch to the landscape over there is the presence of the colourful metro station. I contemplated pulling out the camera to take some pictures but then decided to savour the beauty of life over there.

Old narrow streets on A.S.Char street of Chikpete was teeming with life. There were people everywhere, a hundred people within a hundred square feet. Kishan and I made our way through the crowd admiring the scenes playing out in front of our eyes. There was activity everywhere. It was a Sunday evening, the famous Sunday bazaar was still alive – a marketplace for stolen goods.

Spanners, screwdrivers, broken wheels of trolleys, brass ware, shoes, mobile phones, televisions, computers that probably belonged to some internet parlours once, solar panels that probably were on the rooftops of houses – there was something for everyone.

People bargained, some bought, sellers sold items even as burqa clad women honked at us from their two wheelers – wading through the crowd at pedestrian speeds just like us. I realized that I can’t behave like I behave on the city’s other roads – normal. I realized I shouldn’t pay heed to the honks and step aside, the vehicles will make their own way.

A beautiful graffiti on the metro station’s main entrance depicts the life of old Bangalore. A half kilometre walk brought us to K.R.Market – the older Bangalore. Vegetable vendors selling fresh vegetables, cauliflowers that for once didn’t seem infected and infested, the smell of meat and fish, smoke emanating from old trucks stuck in the crowded streets. Kishan went on to compare the locality with Lucknow’s streets. Old world charms!

We crossed the road holding on to our lives. “Where are the activists demanding safe footpaths and skywalks?” I wondered. The footpath was occupied by vendors and surprisingly I didn’t feel bad about it. Even the smell of urine didn’t feel very unnatural – there was something Indian about it. While I wondered what happened to the Swachcha Bharat abhiyaan, I carried on as I was looking at things from a different perspective today. I wasn’t the resident who demanded his rights today. I was a Bangalorean exploring his city on foot. We passed Bangalore fort and headed towards the K.R.Market metro station built next to the legendary Vani Vilas Hospital. The pattern of the stones laid for the footpath changed and the trademark TenderSURE roads took over. A brilliantly designed entrance to the metro station dotted the footpath. Covered with stones and the entrance dotted by plants, I felt the station’s many entrances were befitting to the Bangalore I grew up in. Beautiful small cozy houses and duplex bungalows, often covered by stones, a small garden with many flowering plants. It didn’t feel like I was in K.R.Market. The traffic also disappeared as we crossed Bangalore Medical College. I became nostalgic and remembered the days when Bangaloreans used to show the “STOP” signal by hand when stopping at the sign of a red light at a junction. Back then, no one bothered to risk their lives by jumping signals in order to save two minutes. 

We walked close to ten kilometres today, through a variety of localities, from the crowded Chikpete to the well planned Basavanagudi. I realized how I missed those walks. I realized the need to get back to photography, to fill these blogs with frames that capture the essence of this city, it’s energy and colours. 

Time to get back to the old ways of doing things.

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