Sunday, July 08, 2007

Those were the days...

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 :(


mathew said...

Never ever lived in blore for a long long time..but used to be a regular visitor quite often and I have seen the rot..There was a amazing calmness of the blore in the early 90's which i miss was a huge village with a cosmo attitude..cantonment was such a great place to be then..but these days when I enter the city the air itself brings itching in my eyes..never wonder they say good times dont last long!!

alex said...


"this community drinks for pleasure and never to get drunk."

Hmmm..don't people get drunk because they derive pleasure from it? I think there is a very thin line in these things. Some drink for the status, some for fun, some for company, some due to peers; but to classify them into one of these is close to impossible.

"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."

Absolutely stupid and weird. :)

"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."

So, i am yet to see old bangloreans.

Will take up the tag...but i have hopped on from place to place..but i shall try...

Fleiger said...

Ah yes... The Good Old Days... I know what you mean :(

Here you will find said...

I grew up in Bangalore and visited Kerala on vacation. How true is your post? Thanks!

Jiby said...

Hey, thanks for a peek into this bangalore culture that is quite alien to me having grown up in a city like trivandrum where community gatherings and fellowship is rare to come by.

this is a tough act to follow, for me my immediate family and my classmates were my society...i stayed away and still stay away from social gatherings. Wonder how this tag will look like if i take it up?!

Really fascinating post...truely a different world from all i have seen.

silverine said...

mathew: You will be surprised if you visit the place now. You will be gasping for air due to lack of oxygen, you skin dries up even in summers and every step you take will land on filth. You are right, good times dont last long, nor does bad time :) Looking fwd to your take on Tvm over the years.

Alex:I cannot explain the part about drinking for pleasure if you dont get it. You can definitely take up the tag of your hometown as you would have noticed the changes over the years on visits.

fleiger: I saw Pune ten years ago and again this year in April, what a change :( It retains some of its its beauty though.

here you will find: Thank you. Glad to see another old Bangalorean.

Jiby: Thanks :) Actually you can write about the changes in the environment and people's mindset in Tvm.

shruti said...

hey a very nice post beautifully describing bangalore ..a bangalore I never got to know unfortunately . I dont party much as the new culture really doesnt gel with me [ you have aptly described it specially the sizing up bit - sometimes I ask in my mind do you like me or my rolex? ]

wouldnt mind experiencing the old bangalore style thou given a chance .

You are right about the drinking for pleasure bit ..i could relate to it as I believe anything is justified if the intensions behind doing it were pure . I recently went to a youth conference in panchgani by MRA /IOFC ( quite an amazing organisation) and I was the eldest participants with kids between 17 - 24 all around me . Discussions got heated up and turned to what was or wasnot a vice. I said something that made a lot of sense to me as well as the other kids - "Anything that has the potential to be a weakness is a vice." Its the same with drinking I feel thats why people generally tend to misunderstand the intention behind it .

flaashgordon said...

hey ..cant imagine its the same bangalore u r talkin about...!!Then again every village, town and city changes thru the yrs , people go away, other people come and stay..c'est la vie.
Due to IT, everyone has jobs, tho it brought too many people in , i believe the benefits far outweighs the demerits..

thnxx for the tag, let me try this ...hope to get it ready within a week

nirvana said...

Wow... thats nice. I have not lived for a long time in b'lore. But whenever, i lived there i felt a large kind of a gap b/w the present b'loreans and past b'loreans. The new b'lore somehow, doesnt really sing my tune, it has the same look as all metropolis [would be metropolis], totally socially unconnected [pub n parties dont really connect!!!!]. It wasnt like the b'lore of which i had read and felt about [movies]. Now, whenever i go there i ask my friends to befriend some old b'loreans, but with little success.

Now i get the secret.. ;)

But all cities and villages change [its applicable even in case of Kerala villages too, i have seen the change it takes every time i used to come here for vacations], the delta change in usual case is magnified in case of b'lore due to the IT boom.. So, the old occupants live a connected life of their own, while the new ones live their own. And some souls go on measuring the gap [like me]....

But i cant even say, i have seen the city, most of what i have seen is shopping malls et al.... :(