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A CLOSE LOOK

Exploring the heart of a city

Nilratan Halder | Published: June 28, 2019 21:15:40 | Updated: August 09, 2019 21:24:25


Whenever people are on a visit to a city in a different land, invariably they tend to compare between it and their own. Even a cursory glance reveals some similarities and dissimilarities to those not famous for probing minds. But there is no denying that such a survey is more often than not superficial. The most probing eyes or minds, though, look for things they are interested in. They too miss many things they are not particularly fond of. People interested in antiquity visit temples, forts, museums, churches and the likes and book lovers have libraries at the top of their list of places to be visited. Writers and social scientists may keenly observe the streams of people and the common people's daily life including the kitchen market they frequent and the groceries from where they purchase their daily necessaries along with the tea stalls, street foods and ordinary restaurants they visit. Architects and town planners may spend time watching buildings and other infrastructure. There are many more who have their own perspectives to draw an idea of a city. Yet no list will be complete without a mention of the shopaholic who are crazy about adding to their already swelling load of numerous articles.

Much as the different types of visitors may try, it is impossible to explore let alone discover the heart and soul of a city. Every city has a face, a heart and a soul. The majority of visitors are satisfied with a glance at a city's face. Bangalore is a city where patients from Bangladesh go for treatment. Patients and their attendants accompanying them have little time to see the city well. They are simply busy with doctors, nurses and hospitals. They cannot be blamed for forming an idea of the city as a medical city depending on the treatment -- not just medical -- they receive from hospital staff and employees of hotels where they stay.

The capital of Karnataka is, however, famous for its physical environment and ambience. What draws one's attention immediately is the lush greenery everywhere. There are skyscrapers of exquisite architecture but the tree covers on street sides are so profuse and thick that the buildings are rarely visible. Unlike the concrete jungle in Dhaka, Bangalore is a city of trees and plants with only a few of those deciduous. The large botanical garden right in the heart of the city and the Cubbon Park have been maintained so meticulously that give a look of a pristine forest retreat. There are trees hundreds of years old -quite a few of them are rare species. One such species is a dragon tree and a row of this tree immediately attracts one's attention on account of their special look.

No wonder, Bangalore has a moderate climate almost round the year. Even in high summer, temperature is not unbearable most likely because of the profuseness of greenery all around. This city is home to a large number of ultra-rich people but the opulence is nowhere on exhibition. The area where they reside is exclusive not in the sense that the homes they live in are spectacular in sizes and shapes. But what give those their distinctiveness are the trees -- many of those fruit-bearing ones -- and other verdant plants that cover the entire precincts.

With all its plus points like adequate public transports maintaining discipline modestly, the city does not present an atrocious look on account of traffic grid-locks, although those hazards are not uncommon. The city's history is rich with Tipu Sultan's palace still announcing his summer retreat there. But what makes the city special is its organisation of institutions. Whether it is an educational one, a medical, scientific or technological one, the Kannadigas or Konkanis are meticulous of giving those a distinctive identity. Perhaps one of the best corps of engineers of India comes from Karnataka. The various utensils and sanitary wares and fittings in use have a special mark of convenience.

Yet not all is well on the maintenance front of the city. In a sense it is also a city of contrast and contradiction. Spilling garbage on roadside does not go well with the spick and span roads in some areas. The presence of human excreta on apparently clean footpath comes as a mighty shock to a visitor from Dhaka. Old parts like Yeshwantapur and Hombegowda Nagar are dingy, stinky and nasty. This is in total contrast with the areas where Infosys and Wipro have their world class offices.

All such observations are a poor attempt to get into the heart of a city like Bangalore. But an Ola driver, a young multi-talented unmarried man from Karnataka state's hinterland throws some light on the heart and soul of the city. His struggle, sincerity, devotion to duty and care for his passengers well beyond professional duty, his skill, technological knowledge and interest in performing art all combine together to help develop an insight into the soul of man and city there.

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