5 Things I Love about Bengaluru

Having been in the city for over a year now, I’ve come to understand that the IT industry is not the only thing Bengaluru (still Bangalore for many) is popular for. For those who might not be aware of it, Bengaluru was once known as the Garden City. Probably because it used to be all beautiful, clean and everything else you’d expect a garden to be. Unfortunately, I don’t know much about that phase of the city. The Bengaluru I’ve seen since last year is one that’s infamous for being overcrowded and highly polluted with traffic jams congesting its pothole-ridden roads.

I constantly hear many of my friends complaining about these aspects. Even though I always lend a patient ear to them all, I am quite defensive about Bengaluru. Inspite of the fact that I’m an outsider here, I feel a sense of belonging. I fell in love with it right from the first day! Of course, I do get irritated with the seemingly endless traffic blocks, the teeming buses and the garbage-strewn corners. But at the end of the day, I love the city, just the same.

Just as you would love a best friend with all his/her quirks, I love Bengaluru with all its flaws. I think I’ve grown used to the crowd that I have to wade through in busy market areas…and the hours of travel it takes to go from one place to another, sometimes barely few kilometers apart! I have begun to refer to my PG (Paying Guest accommodation) as ‘home’, which itself reveals how attached I already am!

So, I thought I’d put together a list of five things I love about Bengaluru. I suppose this is one way of celebrating my first year here and showing my love for this awesome city! Well, here goes!

Disclaimer: The opinions below are based on my experience in Bengaluru and not a generalized view. 

1) The crowd – Yes, that’s right. I actually love the crowd here. It’s (mostly) young, multicultural and varied beyond words. You get to meet people from all walks of life, holding different perceptions, pursuing different interests. I’ve often felt this place is very much a melting pot of cultures, ideas and aspirations. While there maybe quite a few who are from Bengaluru or other parts of Karnataka, a major chunk of the crowd would be from other states/countries. Perhaps, this is why the city has a very special vibe. Or, maybe, it’s just me and my fascination with this place!

2) Welcoming newbies – I know this is purely based on my personal experience. I don’t know how it has been for others but I felt very warmly welcomed right from my first day here. The locals are quite accommodating; I never felt alienated. From my one-year-old perspective, I found them friendly and ready to help. Most people are able to communicate in Hindi or basic English, so, it’s not mandatory to know Kannada, the local language.

3)  The restaurants/cafes – I love (read: love love love) the myriad restaurants and cafes that dot the city! From quaint coffee shops to elaborate restaurants, there’s every kind and cuisine to choose from. Being someone who enjoys restaurant-hopping, I take pleasure in the fact that I could stay here for years and still not run out of options!

4) The climate – I know this is a commonly quoted positive aspect about Bengaluru. But then, this list really wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention about the pleasant and favourable climate the city enjoys throughout the year. Yes, it can get hot in the summer but not as much as in some of the neighbouring states. Guess what? This summer has been pretty much a mixture of rainy, cool days and bearable, hot days! I don’t always enjoy rain (unless I’m in..uhh..a mood for it). Cloudy, dull days and messy, dirty streets just aren’t my thing. On the contrary, I completely love the rain in Bengaluru. The sky clears up almost instantly after a downpour,  even the cloudy instances are kinda nice. Although the rain can be a nuisance sometimes, I can’t help feeling a sort of liking for it.

5) Kannada – This might sound slightly weird. But I’ve grown to love the language. And, trust me, that’s not usual. I’m actually very eager, not to mention determined, to learn Kannada. I love the way it sounds. I have noticed that the locals have a sense of pride when it comes to their language and customs. But then, it’s a not a pride that imposes itself on or looks down upon others. They love their land, language and traditions but are open enough to let others follow their own. Which is really mature and broad-minded, I feel.

So, that’s just a few things I love about Bengaluru. To be honest, I could really ramble on. But I’m sure I’ve said enough for one super-long post!

If you’re at Bengaluru, do let me know what you think! Or you could just tell me what you love about your current city. 🙂

Let’s Talk Books

Hasn’t it been quite a while since I last did some book-talk? Considering my love for ranting about books, I reckon it has been far too long. So, here goes. I read two books in the past nearly-two-months. ‘Inferno’ by Dan Brown and ‘The Secret Scripture’ by Sebastian Barry.

For anyone who has read the earlier books by Dan Brown, Inferno won’t be particularly impressive, I believe. The twists and revelations lack impact. By the end, even the basic plot seems a little vague and over-the-top. Also, unlike his other books, I felt this one had some parts which just didn’t make sense to me.  Inspite of the fact that it is an action-packed thriller which takes you through a beautiful city (Florence), always offering new bits of information and keeping you engaged, I have to say that I didn’t feel an affinity towards it. One possible reason might be the repetition in the main elements that define a Dan Brown book – the 24-hour time span, the action, the narrative, the basic thread of the plot, the interweaving of history, art, places and facts and even the outline of the main characters. Some of the situations failed to excite me solely because of their repetitive nature. Inferno is definitely not going to be on my list of favourites.

Coming to ‘The Secret Scripture’ (a critically acclaimed novel by Sebastian Barry) , it’s a book that surprised me. When I started off, I instinctively knew that I’d find it slow, intense and a tad complicated. Not an easy-breezy read, that is. I wasn’t wrong. I found it sort of dull. I kept expecting it to wear off. But, even when I was halfway through it, the dullness persisted. The book failed to draw me into it; I just didn’t feel that urge to go on reading, to know what was going to happen. That’s when the surprising element of the book came into play.

Sometime towards the second-half, the characters started ‘coming to life’, their situations gaining an intensity I hadn’t perceived till then and I could sense myself feeling for the characters. Towards the end, I was very deeply into it. So much that I couldn’t help feeling a bit reeled by the climax, taken aback by the sudden developments. When I began reading The Secret Scripture, I had my doubts about liking it. But, now, I still think about the characters and their lives, long after having finished the book. Do I need to add that I absolutely loved it?

“It is very difficult to be a hero without an audience, although, in a sense, we are each the hero of a peculiar, half-ruined film called our life.” 

[A note, in case you decide to read it: Have the patience and perseverance to go on reading even if you find it slow initially.]

The book I’m currently reading is the latest book by Khaled Hosseini – ‘And the Mountains Echoed’. It’s amazing, so far. It is emotionally intense, bit more than the previous two books. Or maybe it’s just because I’m too deep into it. Anyway, Hosseini has outdone himself, once more! Another thing I loved about it is that there is a change in the narrative, the way the story is told. More about it, once I finish.

What have you been reading? 

 

(A bit of) Straightening Up :)

Apparently, one post was all it took! I already feel like I’m back to blogging.

During my active-blogging-days, I used to go through each day, see everything partly through a blogger’s eyes. I used to always be open to wandering thoughts and ponder over how to write it out. Each passing thought or incident went through a sort of scrutiny, just in case it was something I could blog about. And, I seem to be back to that stage now. I keep thinking of what I could possibly blog about; I write down interesting sentences I build up in my head, jot down random thoughts; I observe people, places and situations much more closely. Do note that this happened just hours after my previous blog post. And, then, it struck me…I feel like I’m back on track. Almost, I suppose.

The past few months were much like a whirlwind of activities. March was my last month at school, as a teacher. And I was completely caught up with everything. Completing portions, spending time with the kids, finishing up the tasks. It was quite hectic but I didn’t really mind. Probably because I knew that I wouldn’t get to experience it again. April was more of a roller-coaster ride. I finally got to Bangalore (a place I’ve had in mind for the past two years!) and before I knew it, everything had fallen into place much more perfectly than I had expected to. I’ve almost settled in with the new atmosphere, place and people. Like any roller-coaster ride, I also had some down-times, instances when I was emotionally low. But then, I know it will pass (even though it seems to be taking its own time in doing so).

The only writing I did in the last few months was in my diary…the normal rant about incidents, emotions, day-to-day events, random thoughts. Even those entries were not regular. Still, I kept at it. For the sake of the joy and solace it gave me every time I wrote something.

A week or so ago, while writing out about the day, I realized that it had been ages since I wrote a poem. There was a time when I used to have books/diaries filled with poems and now, I can’t remember the last time I wrote one! That’s when it struck me that I hadn’t really been writing, in the true sense of the word. Whatever writing I did in the diary barely helped in keeping the spark alive. It felt like I had been trying to keep myself just alive, barely so…and not nurture it back to life completely. Like managing to stay afloat but never taking the effort to reach ashore.

So, now, I need to get out of the rut and..well, write. For real. 🙂 Thoughts and ideas are always welcome. (I could seriously use some help!)

What does writing mean to you? What does it do for you? 🙂 

 

And…We Meet Again!

Can you imagine what it would be like to meet one of your closest friends with whom you’ve been out of touch for ages? The happiness, excitement, rush of emotions, thoughts, things to say…and a sort of awkwardness because of all the time that has passed by, a silence because you don’t know where to begin or what to say. You realize that after all those years and the distance, you are a different person, and yet, you are still the same person. (Does that even make sense?)

Well,  that is how I feel right now. Like I’ve just come face to face with a dear friend who I had lost contact with. And, I’m kind of fumbling for words, typing out and deleting sentences, wondering if it sounds right…I don’t know what to say, or if what I say makes sense.

I don’t even want to think of how long it has been since I blogged. Of course, there were times (so many times) when I felt guilty, embarrassed, sad or plain disgusted at myself. But I suppose that wasn’t enough. Honestly, I don’t know what brought me here today. But, now that I am here, let’s just leave it at that.

So, to cut the long story short, I’m at a different point in life, a whole new phase…in a new place, around new people. I still feel surprised when I think of how fast time went by. One day, I was teaching and the next day, I find myself in a completely different place. Not a bad place, I should say, even though I miss home and teaching and the kids.

I’ve always loved new experiences, which is exactly what I know I’ll find in a new place. But there is something I constantly tend to overlook. When you start a new phase in life, initially, there is always a kind of emptiness…a void before it starts getting filled up with new experiences, people, thoughts. I think I’m somewhere in that void right now, and, perhaps, that is what brought me here. The need for something familiar and comforting to help me get through this initial vacuum.

I truly hope I don’t go disappearing again. But, for now, I’m back. And it seriously feels good!

 

 

 

New Girl in the City

Any time there’s a major change, whether it’s going into a relationship, getting out of a relationship, moving to a new city, a death – that usually provides a catalyst for an explosion of creativity.
– Lucinda Williams

So, the major change, in my case, might not have led to an ‘explosion of creativity’, but, I’m feeling a lot better than when I wrote the previous post. Well, inspite of my lack of interest, I took up this utterly boring front-desk job at an advertising agency in Dubai. The motivating factors? The thought of moving to a new city, meeting new people, exploring new opportunities, going through new experiences. And that’s how the move to Dubai happened. I work 5 days a week and come home to RAK for the weekend.

Even though my job is boring and least challenging, I like the fact that I have a lot of time on hand. I spend most of my time online, reading blog posts & news articles or replying to some mails. While the youngsters at my office aren’t very welcoming or friendly (in fact, hardly any of them talk to me), the older ones are quite friendly. It’s kind of weird; maybe, they just need time to accept me. Anyway, for now, all I need to keep me going is the prospect of exploring the new city and the experiences it has to offer. The absence of a good friend to talk to or confide in can be overlooked, I suppose. Atleast for now.

After moving in to a comfortable place to stay (with some friendly, sweet people for roommates), my first challenge was finding my way around, to and from work. You will be able to understand the horror of the situation, if you know how terrible my sense of direction is. I had to travel by metro (for the first time) and the first time I reached office by myself, I felt this intense sense of achievement. Like I had done something. Definitely not something difficult or unattainable;but something new, which is what matters to me, after all.

Of course, there’s the foot ache, slight neck pain (from sitting in front of the computer for too long) and the constant feeling of disorientation and being lost. Yet, at the threshold of each new experience, I sense a burst of zeal, because I’ve been yearning for it. Inspite of being a stranger, I love the way the city welcomes me, without being too intimidating. The people I’ve come across have been extremely helpful, even if it meant sacrificing a few minutes of their busy schedule.

Now, I have time for everything. Even with the 8-hour job, the travelling and everything, I have time to write, to read and time for myself. Maybe I had to have these new, strange experiences to get myself back to normal. And, of course, that would inevitably mean: more to blog about! 🙂

Kind of what I look like at work, minus the nail file, of course! 😀

Silence, Voice, Clouds

Not so long ago, there was a time when I felt smothered by the voices all around me. And I felt I couldn’t find my own voice amidst all the commotion. Last day, I had an experience which was exactly opposite to the other.

Sometime towards the end of the day at work, I was feeling really dull and drained. I needed a break, very badly. So, I stepped out of the office. The window right outside my office opens up onto a mini-balcony (or something like that). I go out there, at times, to watch the rain or, like today, to take a break. There was a colleague standing near the window, looking outside. I spoke to him for a few minutes, someone else came by and he moved onto another conversation. All the while, even when I was talking, I wasn’t really paying attention to the person or the talk.

I was looking around, taking in the sights with an intensity that surprised me. There were a lot of dark clouds, signifying impending rain. I spent a long time looking at the buildings around, the clouds, the people on the road, the clouds, the greenery in the distance, the clouds, the sky. Mostly the clouds. I watched this guy, on the street below, crossing the road, weaving his way through the evening rush of vehicles. It reminded me of a maze; I smiled when he found his way out at the other end. Somehow, it didn’t seem as life-threatening as it really is.

Tired of looking at the buildings around, I lifted my gaze up to the sky, the clouds. I took my own time, admiring the breathtaking shades of grey and white in the clouds, enjoying the slight breeze. I wondered if I would get drenched, on the way home from work. A lot of thoughts passed through my mind. Meaningful lines I had read in a book, people in my life, words spoken, incidents, so many thoughts. I thought of how I could feel a happiness and peace that had been lacking in the past two weeks. I reflected on the reason for this new-found joy.

After spending some time, lost in thoughts, when I came back to my senses, I realized that I had been having a quiet talk with my inner voice. Inspite of all the noise (vehicle horns blaring, colleagues talking, blah blah), I had found a calm silence within. I could hear my inner voice so clearly, feel a silence that conquered the noise around me. This is what I meant when I said that I had gone through an experience completely opposite to the one mentioned in the earlier post. I found an amazing sense of inner calm and clarity of voice, even while surrounded by commotion. And it’s like I’ve found myself all over again, learning to listen to my thoughts over the clamour of others’. After all, awesome things happen to awesome people! [Since I was so overwhelmed by the whole thing, I got a colleague to take some photos of the cloudy sky. Hope you like them.]

So, have you ever lost and/or found your voice? And do you feel fascinated by clouds? 🙂 Happy weekend, people!

 

Thoughts, On The Way

Some people can intimidate you. It’s normal. Some books can have the same effect on you (or is it just me?). Again, normal. But, last weekend, while travelling, I realized something strange. Places intimidate me. Like hell. And when I say places, I’m not merely referring to tall buildings, huge structural wonders. I’m talking about the place, as a whole. When I travel to new (or even old) places, I realize how less I know about it. More like how much of it is left for me to know, to see. And that is extremely intimidating. For me, atleast. I know it sounds weird. But then, that’s why I’m telling you about it.

When I go to a new place, the first emotion is always fascination, the awesome feeling that comes with knowing something new. And then, realization sets in. I look around and I see how much there’s left to be seen. Last weekend, I went to a friend’s place. The journey was special, because, after a long time, I got time by myself. Completely by myself. I observed some people, looked out at the passing sights, let my mind wander and thought up a hell lot.

Another weird thought that occurred to me was when I was just leaving the city where I currently reside. For a moment, I felt this pang of emotion. I can’t explain what exactly it was. Something similar to what I’d feel when I go away from home. I felt like I was leaving a place where I (kinda) belong, a place that has begun to feel like home for me. I was surprised at the thought. Because it’s only been a month since I moved to this city. And realizing that it has already begun to fit into the concept of ‘home’ was sort of overwhelming in some ways. Seems like I’ve accepted the city, though I’m not yet sure if the city has accepted me as a part of it. It probably doesn’t make sense to you. Or maybe it does (if you’re weird enough).