Saturday, February 17, 2007

Hello from Bangalore!

Hello everyone. Yup, I am still alive. I have been very busy for the past couple of months. There have been so many changes in my life that blogging was the last thing in my mind. Well, I have relocated to Bangalore now. It's been quite a change for me. But it's also lot of fun since I am getting a chance to explore a new city and being a vagabond is just so much fun :D :D

Some of my posts henceforth would be about my impressions about the city. Bangalore is a growing city. There is lots happening here and it is interesting to chronicle its growth. However, while I scour the city, I always end up comparing the city with Mumbai. I know it's a stupid exercise, but I can't help but do it since Mumbai is the only reference point for me. Reporting in two different cities also helps me gain a perspective of how cities function. Bangalore is growing at a rapid unhealthy pace. Mumbai is a 'been-there-done-that' kind of a city. Even though they are different, there are some interesting parallels as well. I might blog about that later.

What I intend to write in this post are my impressions regarding the events that followed the verdict given by the tribunal on the Cauvery issue. Anyways,on February 6th Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal gave its verdict after 16 long years. One can read more about it here

I went out with my photographer colleague to scour the city to check out how various areas were reacting to the verdict. Most of the city remained indoors yesterday. The roads were completely empty. I could have played roller skating on the roads. Shops in many areas remained closed. I wondered why. The city had a presence of 18,000 troops to prevent any possible backlash against the Tamilians in the city. {I was advised to forget talking in Tamil for a week, he he. I think I can manage quite well with my broken Kannada, Hindi and English :D :D} And all this happened when there was no formal declaration of a bandh.

I found the reaction of the Bangaloreans to be quite precautionary. In fear of a possible violence, people themselves opted to not to leave their houses. I guess such kind of response was because of the failure of the administration in earlier occassions especially during the 1991 Cauvery riots, Rajkumar's Death etc. {Can anyone tell me how bad the situation was during 1991?}

Finally a formal bandh was declared on February 12th. The roads were EMPTY. There were no buses, no autorickshaws, no cars. There was absolutely nothing at all. For someone who is completely dependent on public transport, it was a difficult day. But thankfully, a colleague came to my rescue and I went about to various parts of the city in his motorbike. I thought the public reaction to the Bandh was quite submissive. Back home in Mumbai, we have witnessed many such instances. However, I don't remember of any particular bandh which was uniformly effective all over the city. I guess one of the main reasons why Bandhs are only effective in only certain pockets in Mumbai are the local trains which never stop completely. Though Local trains remain one of the main targets during a bandh, people don't really stop commuting. So in essence normal life does not really halt completely. Here in Bangalore, the BMTC buses (the main mode of public transport) did not ply on the roads at all. I shudder to think what would happen if local trains don't function at all. I guess in Mumbai one has many options including BEST buses, autorickshaws which complement the local train services perfectly.

Also, Mumbai hasn't had a proper Bandh for sometime due to this reason. In the past four years, I don't really remember one single Bandh paralysing the whole city. Needless to say Bangalore was completely crippled without buses, rickshaws, private cabs etc. One could have organised a skating tournament. Bangalore was completely pollution-free that day. I wonder how would the city have reacted, had something like this happened in Bangalore as well! Hmmm....