When getting together inputs for "India Hello, Bangalore Walla, Namaskara's" Second Anniversary, which comes around on 24th October 1998, it became quite difficult to pick out what I wanted to share with you all. During the past two years, the Home Page dedicated specifically to Bangalore's Colonial setting and history had grown from 50 pages of different topics and information on Institutions, People, Bangalore City, the Garden City of Flowers, the next generation, the Children, and so on till it is now around 150 pages of independent home pages under one roof of India Hello Bangalore Walla Namaskara!. At the end of the 1st Anniversary, I had planned to open a section for the 'Handicapped' and specifically for the hearing impaired, but this is yet to take off because I havent got hold of the right tools for Internet transposition of sign language to teach people. I also had a vision to set up a 'Children Section' and that was successfully done, thanks to the children of Sophia's High School. I also opened a 'Flowers and Garden' section that has quite a collection that you may find enjoyable. Perhaps I will come up with something else for the 3rd Anniversary! A note on the 'Old Extensions' of Bangalore has also been added, you can always take your pick from the Contents.
The response I have received from feedback messages is quite encouraging and there may be instances that I have not been able to respond my thanks to the over 40,000 visitors that have come in to see what Bangalore is all about. The first version of "Down Memory Lane" came out, it was hosted by Prashant and Mahesh of Visual Reality and Mahesh.com, and was also featured in the Deccan Herald, a local daily newspaper in June 1996 in the Spectrum. The article was a flow of thoughts that came pouring out without any direction. Later, the editing started, and separation of articles and pages made "India Hello, Bangalore Walla, Namaskara!" the real kick-off from "Down Memory Lane". There was no looking back. My greatest joy is when I receive a mail from someone who has been in Bangalore in the 'Good Old Days', and remembers those times, and shares that experience relived again, it is something that only a bond of memory of a beautiful city, people, places and the times of the past is treasured in one's heart, and cannot really be trapped into words. Now, I am struggling in quest of the last 'Memories of Bangalore', and need your support at all costs.
Looking forward to the next Millennium, setting the vision of goals to 2000, Bangalore has been at the receiving end of the stick There is a rush to try and capture World attention and bring in financial investors in the form of Business Houses, and MNC's, especially as Bangalore was once known as the Silicon Valley of India. Now with hiccups, one has to think twice when a look around tells another story. There is such an untidy mess of unharmonic structures that do not blend to make the skyline a pleasure to the eye. Old buildings and bungalows have been mercilessly hacked down to implant monsters of cold slabs of concrete and dull marble, making the surroundings of the 'Garden City' a 'Desert City' look. There was a spurt in the last four years to build, build and build. Real Estate was at a premium, and that was when the damage went out of control and people went on a rampage buying and selling of properties, investment in futuristic idyllic dreams. However, in the last year when the artificially pushed up prices finally were exposed, people dropped their plans like a hot brick, and projects were stalled, buildings were left incomplete and formed a new ugly background to an otherwise green and flowery setting of the Garden City. It is estimated from the real estate grapevine that there are about 60,000 flats and offices unoccupied because there are no takers, mainly because the prices were unrealistic and nobody could be fooled anymore. The builders that crept in from Bombay or Mumbai who had made Bangalore the mess it is today quietly went into the background leaving their trademarks of unwanted towers orphaned on the once quiet streets. There is a rule that the Forest Department has , and all people who are going to build and are going to cut down trees for the building have to plant a tree any that is cut, there is even an application for this, but if that was followed, Bangalore would have been a much more cleaner and greener place, and pollution would have come down. Building of so many flats and closing of tanks and using ground water resources has lowered the water table and so many of the older trees are dying because the roots cannot go deeper into the soil to get water.
Bangalore was once a place that could be traveled by horse and carriage even to the early 60's when Rock 'n' Roll was catching up with Bill Haley and the Comets and gyrations of Elvis, suddenly grew, literally squeezed, as roads had to be widened, and bungalows which had large compounds and plenty of trees were overnight landscaped with walls making the whole City of Bangalore like a maze, and one really had a tough time trying to get around in a straight line. Take for example, if you needed to get on to St. John's Church Road from Cantonment Station side, you would have to go via the Bamboo Bazaar and onto Haines Road-St. John's Church Road, which when you reach this junction leaves you in the middle of a 'motor-cross' path as someone once described the road, and if you turn left you would have to repeat the whole process, if you want to go across to the other side will keep you going in circles, as the numbering of houses on the road is quite amazing, it would be an experience to try and find the addresses such as 85 to 87 St. John's Church Road, it was for me!!
So much about cribbing on the state of my beloved City. What can I do, for the time being, nothing, as there are many doing 'much about nothing'! When will people leave Bangalore to be what Bangalore always was, a peaceful, fresh aired, noiseless, blue-skied, friendly sojourn that was referred to as the 'Pensioner's Paradise', I think that there must be some relationship to Bangalore when Milton wrote 'Paradise Lost' ! What I have been doing for the past four months is to try and capture as many 'Memories of Bangalore' by means of photographing old bungalows and houses of Bangalore that are standing or are to be pulled down when the Real Estate recession lifts. The response that I expected to my appeal during July, in the popular Newspapers, Magazines and even on the 'Star News' (July 16, 1998) , did not have the effect that I expected, that of making people aware that they were harvesting the Memories of Bangalore, and to at least remember what crop was in their 'fields' before the new 'hybrids' were planted in the form of concrete buildings. I am not against people bringing down their old houses and bungalows, it is mainly that there is no memory of them left on record of their existence which I am requesting people to make and share with the Bangaloreans, maybe to the future generation that would ask questions as to 'what is this Elgin Flour Mills that people refer to when they give a bus stop reference?', Cenotaph, never heard of it? Golden Threshold? one only head of the wooden threshold over which the traditional bride was carried into a new home, now even that has been lost as there are no teak wood frames left in houses that today are represented by boxes called rooms and flats.
Today, there is a hue and cry "Save Cubbon Park". I took the cry up a year ago when I commented "Save Bangalore from the Bangaloreans", but you would think anyone was listening and would care? Now that the very Government who is supposed to protect the rights of the citizen are planning to transgress and build on Cubbon Park, saying that they need accommodation for the MLA's who come to Vidhana Soudha. There is plenty of place on the outskirts of Bangalore where gigantic new townships are being built, why don't they take up one block and leave the poor city alone. Bangalore is fighting to survive all sorts of pollution, chemical, amoebic, smoke, petrol fumes, dust, water depletion, and now to put up with mankind also, taking the cue that the builders have managed to ransack the city without anyone doing anything in a systematic manner, it seems that the Government is trying to slip into the cracks of confusion and implant structures by making certain parts of Cubbon Park, 'free for all land'. People are taking 'Signature Campaigns' and protesting, let us hope that they are successful in trying to prevent the Government from going ahead with it's mind-set. There were abundant protests when the overhead bridges were being started, what happened, nothing, as there was obviously a decision made, and a commercial gain to be picked up, and so land was forcibly taken from residents, trees were chopped down, and smaller roads were made to share the heavier flow of traffic which they were obviously not meant for.
Metal barriers can be seen twisted in all parts of the city (I am not referring to the strange contortions that they call sculptures that have appeared on circles instead of beautiful gardens), on the main roads, making the whole scene so ugly, and like a zoo. These barricades have become a hindrance to services like ambulances and fire brigade tenders who get bogged down in the stream of traffic and cannot overtake as the thoughtless barriers fence them in, and supposedly many a life was lost or property destroyed because help could not be given earlier due to these railings. They should remove them totally, as it not only causes traffic blocks, but also there is no thought for the pedestant, because gaps in this fence is so stupidly spaced that it literally serves no purpose except to harrass the older generation by making them walk further to get to a place. The pedestant in Bangalore is an unheard of word. Take a walk across Brigade Road, cross Residency Road, and you will qualify for the steeple chase. The opposite footpath is about 14" above the road, and there is only 5 seconds for the pedestrian to cross. Further up the road, where Museum Road crosses Residency Road, there is absolutely no provision for the pedestrian to cross safely. Nobody cares for the man in the streets. If you have a vehicle then you have 'the power' to run amuck and scatter the poor pedestrian. Old people are afraid to venture out as they cannot cross the roads anymore. The police unfortunately have not not made human life a priority, hence we are going from bad to worse. If you are handicapped, worse still, you have no special place to park your vehicle, no ramp to enter buildings, so you would have to sit in your cars if you own one, or struggle up the badly designed flights of steps into buildings. The Corporation has not made the rule compulsory to have a special entrance for the handicapped when sanctioning shopping complexes, now you want to try and save Bangalore? Do You want to 'Save Cubbon Park'? Send your thoughts and protests to the important Local Newspapers ( like Indian Express , Deccan Herald , Times of India , Asian Age , The Hindu , to name a few who have e-mail on Internet ) with a hope that they publish and keep a score of how many letters and e-mails have come in, that way you can get involved. Now is the time to stand and be counted as a Lover of bangalore, A Lover of the 'Garden City', a worthy Citizen of Bangalore, of India, and of Planet Earth.
Once more I appeal to Residents of Bangalore, Builders and interested Souls, to please share the 'Memories of Bangalore' with all of us and help keep them alive. If you have an old house, you could get it photographed or if you already have a photograph please send it in for display on Internet for not only those in the City to view, but the World to view. Old Bangalore photographs would be welcome, as they will tell the story of Bangalore. There are many who do have them in their old boxes, now is a time to dig them out and share them for generations to come , these photographs will be returned to the owners and appropriate courtesies will be given for ownership, (because please remember that the Internet Home Page India Hello, Bangalore Walla, Namaskara! is NOT a Commercial Internet Homepage, so NO payments for any material will be made). Of course, there are many who have such photographs and refuse to show them to anyone, I have come across such people in my effort to obtain 'Memories of Bangalore', I hope that some day they will come forward and add value to the memories that I have gone around collecting by photographing buildings. I have not been successful in obtaining very many photographs of 'Old Bangalore'. If there is any of you still interested to come forward and help by your photographs, histories of houses, allow me to photograph your old houses, I would be much obliged. If you have some old memories of Bangalore, be it related to a story, a person, an occasion, something strange, even a Ghost Story, please send the same in and I will try to put it up for all to enjoy. Although there are many dilapidated old houses,and cemeteries around, one does not hear much about 'Ghost Stories' in Bangalore, being a 'Pensioners Paradise' many who have gone before us must have really 'Gone in Peace'!.Also I pray that I can get a sponsor to defray my costs as I am not a rich person ( in fact, right now I am unemployed), but just somebody who is interested in maintaining the "Memories of Bangalore" on Internet. I once again thank all the owners of houses that so willingly have given details of their houses, and also supported the 'Memories' by allowing me or inviting me to photograph the same. I have not included them by name due to many reasons. Bangalore would really be grateful and thankful to you in a few years time when the dust settles and there is nothing to see or remember!
There's a great move going on from the people of the City of Bangalore, let's hope that the 'pen is mightier than the sword'! .. the slogan is ..
You can view some of the collection by visiting Bangalore's dedicated Home Page called "INDIA HELLO, BANGALORE WALLA, NAMASKARA!". If you can help in any way, please write to Ronnie Johnson, 5/3 King Street, Richmond Town, Bangalore 560 025, India, Phone: 080 2240145, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. .
Thought for the Day:" Blessed are you poor, For yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, For you shall be filled. Blessed are you who weep now, For you shall laugh. Blessed are you when men hate you, And when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, For the Son of Man's sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy! For indeed your reward is great in heaven, Fon in the manner their fathers did to the prophets. But woe to you who are rich, For you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full, For you shall hunger. Woe to you who laugh now, For you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did they fathers to the false prophets." Holy Bible: Luke 6:20-26