Another Home for the Aged Fest is around the corner. The Fest bring so many memories of joyful IT less old Bangalore.
October is the time we cut the fruit for the Christmas cake and soak it in Rum or Brandy. October is when we start our Christmas Carol practices too. October is when we have the Fest also known as Charity Bazaar at the Little Sisters of the Poor 'Home for the Aged', Hosur Road. This is the time I get up in the morning to the smell of baking and cooking as my mom starts preparing her contribution to Bazaar…the proceeds from the sales are given to the nuns to run the Oldage home. This is a unique bazaar where the entire Catholic Community of Bangalore comes together and contributes their time or various items to be sold at the various stalls. When I was in school and college we usually manned the games stalls. This is a day of family outing and fun that we look forward to every year.
There is a large population of Goans and Mangaloreans and East Indians settled here from many generations. They evolved the now famous Bangalore Culture. Soon Malayalees too started coming into Bangalore and many like us were assimilated into this community. We learnt a lot from this community. Community spirit, sharing and most importantly, religion as a way of life and not a Sunday activity restricted to Sunday Mass, getting together with family and friends on Fridays and Saturdays and Sundays or any other excuse for a drink and the uniquely traditional Sunday lunch.
In this community, boys and girls grow up together and one will never see men and women sitting separately at parties and get togethers. Drinking alcohol in this community is as natural as drinking water. And young boys grow up treating alcohol as no big deal. They learn to drink responsibly. And as get togethers are frequent, the need to imbibe alcohol just for fun is also non existent. Which is why this community drinks for pleasure and never to get drunk.
I grew up taking such a life for granted. It was later as I grew into my teens that I found the striking dissimilarity in this culture and the Kerala culture (?) on my visits to Kerala and to relations place here in Bangalore. I found the whole of concept of the ladies sitting and gossiping in one room and then men sitting and drinking in another absolutely stupid. And when these two groups did talk to each other (more as a formality), the men would talk condescendingly about the ladies shopping sprees and the ladies would joke about the men’s drinking. All very prim and propah segregated meaningless conversation and interaction.
Those days most of us lived in the Bangalore cantonment area. So getting together was easy. Carol singing was also easy. Today all those old homes have been sold to developers and most of the families have moved into the flat given to them by the developers or have moved to the suburbs. We had some great dances at the Catholic Club then, as curfew was unheard of. We went in groups for the dances and after the dance jumped the wall into St Patrick’s for the 5:30 am mass and then went home and crashed out.
We attended Sunday Mass as a group and then went for breakfast at some Darshini. Breakfast after Mass is a unique Bangalore tradition and most eateries would be filled with families having breakfast on Sundays. However I must thank IT because it provided employment and most of my friends and classmates are employed here in Bangalore.
Bangalore had a name for some of the coolest private parties… parties where people enjoyed dancing, sing song sessions and not what outsiders thought…i.e getting pissed drunk and misbehaving. Later as the IT crowd started coming into Bangalore, desperate for action, the segregating of the ‘old Bangalorean’ and ‘new Bangalorean’ started taking place. We keep our distance from the ‘new Bangaloreans’. Many of the so-called ‘new Bangaloreans’ have imbibed the spirit of old Bangalore. And I feel glad to see that. Today I have colleagues begging me for an invite to our do’s because “you guys party like no on else’. It is the greatest compliment I have ever received. They have learned to relax and enjoy the evening without getting dressed to kill and enjoy people’s company without wondering what their net worth is.
When I see, newcomers calling themselves ‘Bangaloreans’ I can only sneer. These guys don’t even know what being a Bangalorean all is about.
But I still miss my old Bangalore :(