Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Garden City still charms


Well, I was on a visit to Bangalore last week to meet a close relative who is undergoing dialysis and also to take time off from work. In spite of so many trains to Bangalore, it is not easy to get a ticket at short notice, especially on night trains. People like me cannot really plan things too early. I chose to travel by Lalbagh Express; after all, I could work in the morning and lose just half a day.

The journey was uneventful. In recent times, I’ve not been lucky with co-passengers. Where are the ones who smile and share stories? Or those who gladly volunteer to buy you a cup of tea? I have travelled enough in trains in India in the 1970s-80s-90s to feel the difference. Somehow, with the IT boom and all that is modern, people seem to have less time to talk or communicate. Wonder where we are all heading!

One of the things I noticed, being in the newspaper and media industry, was that vernacular newspapers and magazines are more popular than those in English. While the person seated next to me was engrossed in the latest Kumdam magazine, another was reading the Dinakaran newspaper, and a third a Telugu magazine. Did I spot a Malayalam Chandamama somewhere? Perhaps I did.

One of the good things about travelling in trains like Lalbagh and Brindavan is the variety of food that is on offer, one after the other. Tea or coffee tastes reasonably good the first time; after that, you might as well be drinking dishwater. At least that is what I experienced this time. There were hardly any beggars, but the eunuchs or hijras went about their business with little opposition from any railway authority. One dominant one even played ‘drums’ on the head of a helpless passenger and in the bargain coerced another to part with small change.

Bangalaore, in spite of what most people these days have to say, continues to retain a bit of its old garden-city charm. The weather was extremely pleasant, except in the night when chilly winds took over. I enjoyed my visit to Best of Bengal, an eatery close to Cox Town; the vegetable thali was filling, and the fried fish absolutely yummy. This is a restaurant that runs pretty much on its own terms, with little change over the years. The Bengali family that runs it seems to be able to attract a regular clientele. And at the end of the day, you can say that you had original Bengali food.

Picture shows the restaurant facade.

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