I had not anticipated the move from Gurgaon to Bangalore (officially Bengaluru) to be that consequential. But the stark contrast hits you in the face just like the cool breeze of Bangalore after the sweltering heat in Gurgaon.
The ride from the Bangalore airport makes you want to turn around and move back to Gurgaon. It feels like a long road trip after a short haul flight.
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The sights of the shiny exterior facades in Gurgaon are replaced by the sights of rustic layouts surrounded by green meadows, (polluted) lakes, and Gopuram temples. You may have traversed and well-versed in the planned sectors and phases of Gurgaon, but here you better get used to the labyrinth of main streets, cross streets and more importantly, unpaved bystreets. To top it off, you’ll find yourself in an obscurely named halli (each progressively harder to pronounce than the last one) every 10 minutes. (This I believe is, bangaloreans way to shield off their territories from non-local influences. If you can’t pronounce it, how can you live in it?)
The taxi driver doesn’t make it any easier for you. He will claim to know Hindi (or English for that matter) but you will not understand his accent and neither will he. He’ll nod at everything you say, but still take the shortcuts of his choice, instantly creating an element of angst in the mind of an ever-suspecting, direct-from-Delhi female.
The only respite from the cacophony of the Bangalore commute is the close confine of your own gated community. You may think that Gurgaon living is characterized by gated communities. But Bangalore takes community living to another level. You shop, play, exercise, recreate, socialize, celebrate, and politic within your residential community. And if that’s not enough, you share every possible resource at your disposal, from your maid, to your kitchen, and even your dinner. This is such a change, coming from a place where neighbours don’t exchange smiles (well, not until they are perceived to be of the same uberness status!)
But then again, Gurgaon seems to be created so that uber Delhiites(especially the foreign returned and the professional types) could distinguish themselves by the virtue of their address. Bangalore, on the other hand, is a melting pot of different cultures, religions, mindsets with the like-mindedness of either their high-tech background or their staunch beliefs thrown in. Even the successful (setting aside the acres of land they own) will only show-off their simplicity and modesty.
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Gurgaon, the ostentatious Kingdom of Dreams, symbolizes the notion of “stand out” in every respect. Whereas Bangalore, with its mellow and communistic attitude, prompts you to “fit in”. Just like the original art adorning the custom living spaces of Gurgaon, as opposed to the display of the same tanjore paintings in every south indian home.
While Gurgaon is all about modern and new, Bangalore’s broad-mindedness goes beyond skin deep. I find the populace progressive, not in the way they party or dress but in the way they entertain and adopt new-age ideas, whether it be waste segregation, organic-farming, spot-cleaning, or such social innovations.
I personally have a load of learning and unlearning from the move: I don’t wear make-up every time I step out. But I travel one hour for a facial. I remove my footwear before entering someone’s house. I do pot-lucks instead of pool parties. I segregate my waste, not just talk about it. I shop at BigBasket instead of BigBazaar. Do Whatsapp more than Facebook. I learn Kannada from my driver. I trust more. And I breathe more fresh air.
And thus signing off, a Banglored “Preethi”! (The extra h comes with the territory. It’s like the Karnataka Road Tax on your non-karnataka automobile.)