It was June 07 2015, Sunday. It was bright and sunny at 30 degrees and the sky was a deep blue with sparse white clouds, the kind of summer day which would be criminal to spend indoors. Long stuck in the frustrating 10 km box that included home, office and the ring road in between, where there is nothing to see but dust, smoke and heat and nothing to hear but the roar of vehicles, and I decided to go out and see those parts of Bengaluru I hadn’t seen in a long, long time. A city walk “backpacking” around the city for an entire day with no plan or itinerary, go wherever and whenever convenient, wander around Bengaluru with no destination using only public transit, of course (I would like to see the city and not various bumpers of cars stuck in front of me), to navigate my way around the garden-software-pollution-traffic-city, and chronicle my escapades by way of my trusty Sony RX100. Yes, a Bengaluru Darshana Photowalk! And, of course, a bit of rail and busfanning would obviously happen too! And well, since I was home alone there was no excuse for me not to.
Stocking up on water and biscuits I boarded a 500D BMTC Volvo bus to Hebbal from B.Channasandra on the Outer Ring Road. On the bus I acquired a Rs.140 unlimited travel-as-you-wish-all-day-on-any-bus pass. The long-haired driver was in a totally chilled-out, in-no-hurry Sunday mood and took his own sweet time to reach Hebbal, driving his empty Volvo humming Kannada songs I could not identify. I got off near a wall covered with movie posters.
I crossed the road and almost immediately boarded a 507 to further my sojourn, not waiting to take in the beautiful scenery of smoke spewing trucks and shouting people and construction debris under the Hebbal flyover. I got down at Kuvempu Circle and walked along the pleasant tree lined road down to Lottegollahalli railway station. Realizing that there were no trains to photograph, I headed back to Kuvempu Circle and boarded a 500B to Yeshwantpur, relishing the slow journey along the typically jammed Bangalore road crowded by shops on both sides.
I got down at Yeshwantpur market and walked along the crowded bazaar street towards Yeshwantpur Railway Station’s old entrance. Being the dutiful citizen I am, paid Rs.10 for a 2-hour platform ticket and decided to meet some friends. On platform 1 was the Vasco Da Gama – Yeshwantpur Express, just arrived from Goa, on the helm WDM3A veterans twins 14012R and 14047R, rumbling and smoking, exuding raw diesel power.
On platform 2 was the 17603 Kachguda – Yeshwantpur Express headed by KJM WDM3D 11578. On the stabling line were KJM WDP4 20030 and WDG3A 13378 and ED WAP4 22871 and LGD WAP 22312. Just as I was making my way out came in Mysore-YPR Express with WDP4 20043. I wouldn’t dare take out the camera at the station, but captured this monster from outside the station :) As I headed towards the Yeshwantpur Metro station entrance just outside, a thought came to me: “why always capture only trains, why not buses?” and traveling my metro makes everything too fast anyway. So I stepped onto the road and was almost rewarded when grandpa came along.
Unmindful of the smoke, dust and chaos, I walked around back and forth all about Yeshwantpur area capturing more buses, crossing the road thrice trying to get a good shooting position but the sun was high in the sky by then, casting shadows on the faces of the buses. So I then decided to walk forwards anyway, because walking is good for my body which is spending too much time in sitting postures writing blog posts on how walking is good for health.
Played the helpful “localite” by helping out a guy to find Ullas Theater, and then walked along the compound wall of Yeshwantpur Railway Station deciding where to go next. Funnily enough, though traffic was heavy it was not even in the least unpleasant it is like it is on the Outer Ring Road where I live. Then I saw a iconic “World Trade Center” (God Bless America) tower rising ahead above Bangalore’s usual autorickshaw chaos and decided to make Brigade Gateway my next stop, walking all the way of course.
The long trek took me from Yeshwantpur past Govardhan, then past the bus stop where the road splits into Chord road and Tumkur Road, and then left along Chord Road past the outdoor market and the underpass towards Rajajinagar. Under the overpass that leads back to Yeshwantpur proper, where I stopped for a quick chat with:
After half an hour of walking, capturing buses and chatting with cows, I finally reached Orion Mall at Brigade Gateway, which according to Malayalam movies is apparently where everyone in Bangalore lives. I hung around Brigade Gateway for some time along with a thousand other people, feeling all cool and upmarket. The central plaza the place really looks like a public square of a European city. Thank God this spot was not crowded since cool people don’t step out into the heat. The mall was choc-a-bloc however.
Not wanting to waste too much time in malls which would defeat the purpose of my sojourn, I left the polished glitziness and stepped back out on to Dr.Rajkumar road and the sun. Walked back to the Rani Abakka circle and crossing back onto the (crumbling) Chord Road walking a kilometer past ISKCON temple until Mahalakshmi metro station from where decided to take the Green line Metro, but not before I was made to declare my camera and a small 4-5 spanner which somehow had made its way into my bag, because apparently people who carry cameras and small spanners are viewed as anti-national terrorists by the illiberal Indian establishment.
If they ever make photography legal on the Bangalore Metro, Mahalakshmi is the place to capture trains. Incoming trains from both sides take a graceful sloping curve just before entering into the station, curves which are a railfan’s dream. It was now so hot enough outside that the AC of the train was barely effective. I got out at the last station, Mantri Square Sampige Road, Malleshwaram. Having had enough of malls, I gave it a miss and headed to Central (bus stop) just outside where I boarded a 276 to Majestic. The good old transit heart of Bengaluru was as always crammed as always with a zillion buses, and I met this guy whom I had been vying to capture for a long, long time.
Wondering what to do next, I suddenly remembered a place I was meaning to check out for a couple of weeks, the car-less Cubbon Park, of course. After snapping a “Majestic” selfie, I hopped on a 335E Volvo, a route I have traveled so much on, and alighted at Corporation. What followed was an hour and a half of bliss. I criss-crossed the park, strolling along the wide, car-free roads, through the paths bordered by huge trees and bamboo clusters, through grassy expanses dotted by trees, took some time off on a park bench to cover a couple of chapters of “The Fifth Gospel“. The park was completely uncrowded since everyone nowadays only want to drive their cars to malls and hang out there like all cool and modern people do. A stroll in a park is only for old people and losers who couldn’t keep up with the modernity of the modern steel-and-glass India.
Thinking about rich people, I was suddenly hit with a pang concern and decided to check out how they were all doing. So I exited the park at CCD Square and walked towards UB City. The wide concrete Vittal Mallya road was completely free of traffic. On the footpath a pretty girl smiled at me (there was no one behind me), but I didn’t smile back, as revenge for the times when I used to smile at any girl, pretty or otherwise, but got none in return.
Was sadly disappointed that there were no fancy cars on display at UB City. An old model Mercedes S350 was parked at the Rs.1000 per hour parking slot and a couple of guys were roaming around outside in an open-top 2013 E250 convertible (pucham). There were no cars inside the Lamborghini showroom outside either. After just glancing around inside UB City I decided to further my walk along the tony areas of the IT City, all the way.
I crossed onto Lavelle road, the road of Bangalore which is as “European” as it gets, lined with eateries, fancy restaurants and residents of some rich but mostly old-time Bangaloreans. The weather was typically awesome-Bangalore and here, in the middle of the city, it was absolutely quiet with hardly any traffic on the road! I would stay here forever. This is what the “real” Bangalore is, the posh Bangalore, where it all happens, and not the polluted, traffucked so-called “IT corridor” where self-important deluded “techies”, posing themselves as Bangaloreans live. Walked up until the BMW showroom and then turned onto the Bowring Institute road, then crossed St.Marks Road with its absolutely amazingly wide Tendersure footpaths, against which car-obsessed Bangaloreans are up-in-arms against, because, how dare they give space for pedestrian losers that rightfully belong to cars??
Then I crossed onto the completely dug up Church Street, spying a couple of almost-everynight hangouts of my youth. The afternoon sun was now beating down my neck quite nicely, and looking at the time, I realized that I might be just in time to capture the Shatabdi on its way back to Chennai at Bayyappanahalli. I made haste and entered the MG Road Metro station from the Church Street entrance, where I was again made to declare my camera (but they spared the spanner this time). The Metro train was jam-packed, mostly with curious tourists, as usual, gaping at the clean and shiny train. We reached Bayyappanahalli in 17 minutes. As soon as I reached the end of the BYPL station platform I saw the signal turn green and in a minute the prince of Southern Railway came blasting around the corner, but in my excitement, I screwed up the camera settings and got an overexposed image :(
To compensate I decided to capture three more trains that would arrive back to back an hour later. To while away time, I hung around the very pleasant and tree-filled Sadananda Nagar area, took a bit of rest and rewarded my dehydrated body with a couple of liters of water and to make the wait worthwhile, spotted a couple of APSRTC and TSRTC (Telangana) buses as well (No, they were not fighting with each other).
After waiting for close to an hour, I said hi to the 17236 Nagercoil Sheshadri, old friend 16315 Kochuveli and 16520 Jolarpettai Expresses. It was evening now and the sun had started to sink below the treetops, reflecting off the glass of the RMZ Infinity building, ending an arduous and very pleasant day, and my legs were telling me that they had had enough. I climbed down from the tracks and flagged down a 317 going to Ramamurthy Nagar, and 15 minutes later was back at B Channasandra as the day slowly close to an end.
And so ended my day of roaming around in Bangalore. I was down and drained, covered in sweat, dust, smoke and exhaust, but at the same time felt uncannily refreshed and awake, unlike I had felt in a long time. I would love to do this for a living, travel and explore the world, go to places like Norway, Montana and Easter Island, like almost every single one of you are reading this would want to. But, as we are the prisoners of our own lives of systems designed to keep us in the sense of farcical belief of well-being, preventing us from enjoying the true fruits our planet and life have to offer, we remain, shackled to our own lives within our little boxes, making ourselves unable to travel to places on the other end of our own city, forget Norway.
Anyway, a day was well spent, in a way infinitely much better than sitting around for 12 hours staring at various electrolumious display screens. And I promised myself that I would do this more often, the only escape from the prison of my so-called “career-work” life, which so many consider the ultimate beginning and end to their lives. I walked to the neighbourhood poison store to reward myself with a can of European beer.