Hey Hey My My
Ten years ago, when I used to visit Bangalore, it was known as a place for people to retire and settle down much like Ruskin Bond settling down in Mussoorie. The roads, though not wide, were big enough for the traffic; the people (local Kannadigas) kept their reputation intact as one of the nicest group of people in the country and the atmosphere in general felt relaxed and inviting to a nomad.
Fast forward ten years and things definitely seem to have changed a lot. In the last couple of months that I have been here, I don’t find either the roads being big enough for the traffic (not even close) or the people being as nice as they used to be. What changed? I guess all good things do come to an end.
The first thing that I noticed when I landed in Bangalore was the general lazy nature of people. I hail an auto and I see that the driver doesn’t seem to be the least interested in working and making some money. He seems to be more interested in lounging around at the auto stand chatting up with other drivers and generally whiling away time. I go to the hotel front desk to check out (obviously in a hurry) and even my attempts at impressing upon him the need for speed seem to be lost somewhere in the air in the middle. The minimum time taken for anything to get done seems to be nothing less than a day or even two. For someone from Mumbai where its difficult to stand in a public area without being incessantly jostled around by people who ain’t got a second to waste, this was quite a change. I don’t know the underlying reason behind this. My closest guess is the climate which has a tendency of making me stay under the sheets a little longer in the morning.
I was talking to a broker as part of my efforts at finding an apartment when he let me in on an important funda. Everyone knows accommodation costs in Bangalore are probably the highest in India. And there is an interesting reason partly fuelling this. Apparently, when youngsters from the software industry move to Bangalore, they move mostly in groups of 5 or more. Now such a group apparently doesn’t mind staying together in a two bedroom apartment together and are willing to pay even upwards of 20 grand which works out to be quite economical per individual. The result of this is that when someone like me who is not a software engineer starts looking for accommodation, the owner believes that since he managed to rent out a place for 20 grand before, he is fair in charging the same amount even if its only two people staying together now. Apparently the trick is to impress upon the owner the fact that I am not a software engineer and that it will be only two people staying in the apartment. It worked.
One more of the many things that surprised me in New Bangalore is the drastic levels of customer service. I go to one of the most well known pubs in Bangalore and the waiter behaves as if he’s doing me a favour entertaining me. I call up the customer service department of my ISP and they behave as if they are doing a favour entertaining me. The less said about the auto drivers, the better. Not to say that the Kannadigas in Bangalore have become less hospitable. They are still the same but they are now only 20 out of 100 people staying in Bangalore and that number seems to be falling.
Everything said above, there are still nuggets about Bangalore that I still like. This is not a rant about what I dislike about Bangalore. But with becoming one of the most happening cities in the country comes a certain responsibility to understand and accept the shortcomings and resolve them before someone else takes the cake away from us.