Now In Hot Waters
by Someswar Rao
An oft-repeated but unchecked story had it that when the iconic Vidhana Sudha (used often as a symbol for Bangalore) was being built, a file was put up about the purchase of fans for the building. The then Chief Secretary to the government is said to have made a note on the file: ‘Bangalore is no fan city’.
The unnamed CS deserves to be immortalized for two things: for a most quoted quote called the garden city or the ‘air-conditioned city’.
My old friend and Social Forestry officer Mr.Neginhal, tasked by the then Chief Minister Mr. Gundu Rao in the 1980s with greening the city, guarded all trees zealously and raised its green cover.
But before his recent death, the city lost the title of Garden City. What was once called the ‘AC city’ has become blisterIngly hot during su7mmer, having lost scores of trees with every road project and Metro line. There is, however one distinct peculiarity it retains: However scorching the summer might be, as soon as you get into the shade of a tree you feel it is like an AC room. The famous gazal of Jagjeet Singh echoes in your ears : zindagee dhoop aur tu ghana chayaa (life is hot sun and you are dense shade).One is thankful for the trees still not axed down.
Every town or city in India has a distinct feature the very name reminds you of. If you have been there you recall the quiet, Civil Lines near the Allahabad University in Prayag, the scores of people with guns near Banda district court, busy Hazratganj in Lucknow, the shaking hotel room in Kanpur as heavy traffic robs you of sleep all night or the narrow dirty lanes of Kashi, You get a mental picture of heaps of oranges in Nagpur with a mile-long line of bullock carts going by themselves from Amraoti to Akola as the farmers sleep, the Bhopal gardens, one with only rose plants, and third with only bougainvillea or only marigold in a third.
Chandigarh will bring to your mind the Shimla lights glittering beyond its lake. In the case of Bombay, it may be many thousand rushing into a local train even as thousands more struggle to alight, the morning fog in Deli or the Howrah bridge in Kolkata. It can go on and on.
But say Bangalore and it is hot water. Almost all including the slum dweller have a hot water bath in the morning though it is not very cold.No hot water for some reason or the other means “Bangalore in hot waters.”