About a decade back, the mall culture hit Bangalore. It built bigger bazaars and forums for the hip-n-hype. As most parts of old Bangalore succumbed to its might, Basavanagudi, an old residential and commercial Southern locality held its ground; accommodating a flyover here, an underpass there, roads renamed and parks fenced. It stayed alive- adapting to a few changes and resisting others, all with the famed Kannadiga gentleness. Basavanagudi, even after losing much of its green cover has remained an oasis amidst a messy mix of concrete and glass. It is calm and chaotic, slow and pacy. It is the soothing Reethigowla amidst the cacophony of ringing phones and honking cars.
How would one understand the survival of Basavanagudi – its essence? Do you understand it through the sweet scents of the Gandhi Bazaar flower market, or through the proposals and confessions on the boulders of Bugle-Rock? Does it stay alive in the lofty philosophical discourses at the Gokhale Institute of Public Affairs? Or in the eccentricities of its people who gather in thousands every year to honour the humble groundnut? The Soul of Basavanagudi is in all these and much more.
It lives in commerce of DVG Road, in the cricket matches on the National High School grounds. It lives in the impatience of those waiting outside Vidhyarthi Bhavan, the proud custodians of the world’s best Masale Dosae. It lies in their refusal to concede that title to their rivals in Malleshwaram.
More than anything else, Basavanagudi stays alive in its love for life; in its celebration of the seemingly insignificant as exemplified by its famous son, Dr. D V Gundappa. It continues its quest for the new staying rooted in the old. The people of Bangalore must nurture this heritage with all care, for it might be the last of the tales living to remind the city of its past.