Amdavad And Bengaluru

By Sunil Kumar

Narendra Modi‘s marketing via Amitabh Bachchan‘s personality prompted me to proceed to the capital of Gujarat part of  the nearly 600 year old city of Ahmedabad. India is a vast country; a fact that actually does not need reinforcement. Nevertheless; as the more barren landscape of Maharashtra gave way to the relatively greener expanse of Gujarat; I realized that there was some truth in Modi’ji”s statements.

English: Amdavad

English: Amdavad (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A historical fact; I am not usually what somebody would consider the frivolous jovial variety; Kapil Sharma and Cyrus Broacha, rest easy. And Kunal Vijayakar; keep eating. Take me along sometimes; you guys have a lot for free. Although I enjoy laughter; the targeted venom of life’s ridiculous turns is singularly insipid. Dadu, ki kah gaye ham? I can speak English, for God’s sake I lived in the bleak old island, mate; the birthplace of the current lingua franca of the world.

So, now for the historical brief. The Bombay Baroda train was one of the earliest railroads in the world. Entering Gujarat; I see Navsari; revered town for our Indian Bawajis(the Parsis) and then Surat; first base for the English in India.

All those years ago; the Mughals gave the “firang”(the Englishman) entry smug in their belief of being the overlords of the country. The rest of the story may be known. Bengal, Bihar, Orissa. In the end; 1848; the Punjab. Anyways; forget those droll facts; Amdavad comes after a few hours and I move out; only to be accosted by a plainclothes guy ostensibly in law enforcement. After being assured that I, a honest patriotic citizen of the socialist democratic republic of India pose no threat to the land; I see an old decrepit city that changes its appearance as we cross the Sabarmati.

Amitabh Bachchan

Cover of Amitabh Bachchan

On the first day; I pay homage to the great god Krishna of the flute. The ISKCON temple here is not that great frankly; compared to the Dravidian monument at Bengaluru or the very Bengali aesthetic elsewhere. The next door ISCON mall(It’s misspelt as are other things) is also tolerable; compared to other parts of the country; namely Mumbai and Delhi. Gandhinagar; the administrative capital of the state is splendidly green; as is revealed by a ride into the hinterland.

Some years back(my memory’s faded but it’s there somewhere); I go to Palitana; close to Bhavnagar; land of the Jain temples. The old beats the new in my opinion; revealing the genius of ancient artisans; compared to the relative poverty we have today. Scores of Hindu and Jain temples were ravaged across this land; a barbaric affront by alien faiths; raised in the hellfire of more savage lands.

Akshardham in Gandhinagar is smaller than the massive one in Delhi; but still has architectural merit. So after Kankaria Lake and the Science City; Amdavad has let me in on all its secrets. Probably I discovered them.

To make this post bigger; let’s talk about Bengaluru; the “garden city”; brought to its current form by the British. I read somewhere that Winston Churchill; the obnoxiously blatant racist and British patriot(admirable for this quality) had stayed somewhere here as a correspondent. The city’s weather is pleasant; but traffic frankly took away half the fun.

Another fact; the over “hype” about Bengaluru had made me believe that there would be gleaming big temples to technology; but then we’re still in India, mate. Infrastructure should be built quickly; shed politicking and sycophancy. Revolt; now I said it. No heavy duty Naxalite stuff; or other dangerously pretentious things mentioned by our erudite armchair philosophers in every nook and cranny. More things mentioned by more radical elements; just my piece. The world’s comi-tragic, brothers and sisters(possibly)!

Bombay, Baroda, and Central India

Bombay, Baroda, and Central India (Photo credit: Phliar)

In my opinion; every part of the country has its own distinctive identity; an interesting, intriguing and good fact. Regional racists, I remember some of your words; but I still didn’t get what the great thing is; about one place vis-a-vis the other. The quiet civility of some of the citizens of this southern metropolis was heartening; but then we come back to earth very soon; when the normal wisdom of the global street makes its appearance every few minutes.

Apparently; there was a tax for citizens of Bangalore city to the Cantt. area in the old days; but since I am in the 21st century; I can see the city; quite similar to other parts of the country; albeit with a South Indian touch, obviously. R.K Narayan’s fictional city of Malgudi was based on this city apparently; and one can get a vague idea of old times by seeing some parts of Bengaluru. The Financial Expert; the Vendor of Sweets; Swami and Friends; the world of the mind is sometimes better than reality.

Best viewed large. The main terminal of the br...

Visit Best viewed large. The main terminal of the brand new Bangalore International Airport (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The gleaming metro in this city has an Anil Kumble gate(for the local Kannadiga icon) and is less extensive compared to the big one in Delhi. But, the ride to Indiranagar was fun; and the food delightful. M.G Road and the Brigade area are actually remnants of the colonial era; and although interesting; are less crowded and colourful than the city’s slimy sleazy financial hub of Mumbai.

Bengaluru’s ISKCON temple however is a masterpiece; the multiple levels tedious but religious; and the final sanctum sanctorum(garbagriha) et al magnificent. I went here a few hours after landing in the green airport at the outskirts of the city. Everything else seemed to be a little awry due to massive traffic and the metro being built; and the city does not have a plethora of monuments like other places in the country. Wonderful “green” pockets; but seem to be depleting. Technology get-togethers left aside; if there was equal focus on the general infrastructure “bit”; all of us would benefit everywhere. P.S All for today.


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