Each city has different centres for different purposes; but to me, the very heart of my city is the Brigade Road/Mahatma Gandhi Road/Church Street area. After buying tickets to watch “The Namesake” at the Rex Theatre (surviving the decades on Brigade Road), I walked around with the camera. This area is also a very fashionable place, where young people (and the not-so-young) dressed up to the nines, throng the malls, the shops, the movie theatres, the pubs, or just “hang around”.
But mingling with these fashionistas and wannabes are many others…and I wanted to document them, too.
Bangalore is, to a large extent, a city of immigrants; its cosmopolitan nature is determined by people from many other parts of the country and the world who make it their home. This includes the Lambadas, a gypsy community. They come from Rajasthan, originally, I think, and often endure a lot of privation in order to eke a living here. The sleeping arrangements of this Lambada woman, and her baby, will surely pull at your heartstrings; she was on M G Road right opposite the Brigade Road Junction:
But for all her poverty, don’t miss her colourful clothes or that ultimate fashion statement, the pair of high-heeled sandals!
Almost lost in this picture are the two women near the poster of the fashionable man; behind a stall selling leather belts, they were clearning a sorting a large quantity of cardboard and corrugated sheets. They were hard at work and never ceased their labours for even a minute:
It made me think about how all the garbage that the consumer goods generate gets cleared, and how it's recycled. Thankfully, India is still a great country for recycling; we don't waste very much, though we are learning to.
At the entrance to Church Street I saw this well-dressed young man (notice the natty tie, and glasses-in-hair), selling a beautifully-bound and expensive looking fat dictionary. I was sceptical about how many he would sell, but almost immediately he interested someone in it:
At Rex Theatre on Brigade Road are many vendors who cater to the needs of both moviegoers and passersby.
Here is a Channachurwalla. Channa Chur (or Channachor, as it is commonly called) is beaten corn kernels, served with chopped onions and tomatoes and salt, chili and lemon juice. It makes for a colourful picture!
There are two other ubiquitous things in that picture...one, the mobile that the young man is talking into, and the other, the plastic bag, this one from Bangalore Central, a mall that replaced the beautiful and historic Victoria Hotel at the corner of Commissariat Road and Residency Road.
And here's the other favourite, the Pani Pooriwalla, serving up his spicy, crisp snacks which often result in a great sense of tongue-tingling and once in a while in an upset stomach:
This person is missing (he disappeared for change for a customer while I was walking towards him through the crowd, and didn't come back as long as I was there)... the eyewear he sells doesn't come with brand names but seems very popular...his wares are for your eyes only!
And in the shoe shop nearby, here's the Dabbawalla,taking back the lunch boxes he had brought from the homes of those who work in the shop, preparatory to delivering them home again; the design of the boxes enables them to be stored upright, preventing the contents from spilling. The six-sigma example that the Mumbai dabbawallas showed the world has its echo in Bangalore, too:
And here's a young man who has a lot of time on his hands. AND he has the brands. You want "Homega"? or "Catier"? or "Pattek Philip"? He has them all, made in Taiwan of course!
These people come in daily contact with the immense wealth that the IT industry in Bangalore has generated; they share the same space, and deal briefly, with those who have backgrounds more affluent than they can dream of; and yet, it is as if these people live on another planet, existing right inside our city. They live in a world of their own, isolated from the wealth that struts and flaunts itself on the footpaths of the modish heart of Bangalore.