Having been a Bangalorean for longer than I can remember, I didn’t expect a walk in the park to rearrange the cards in my head. When I joined Vijay Thiruvady on the Green Heritage Walk he leads at Lal Bagh, I was enthusiastic though troubled by a nascent cynicism.
What do you do when buffaloes mysteriously eat away your green cover? Hunt down the real thick-skinned culprits that wallow in public funds!
Some old-timers fondly recall that much-reviled historic event, the Emergency, for a dictatorial government’s efficacy at enforcing law and order. “Trains ran on time, even criminals were shot at sight,” they reminisce with wistful pride. Sure, but why does a democratic society need a schoolmaster to rap its errant knuckles?
Ask your councillors where the parks have gone, and they will point proudly to a software park within ten minutes’ drive. Car parks, they promise, will follow. But a park by any other name doesn’t feel as green.
This is Animal Planet of a different kind. Amber traffic lights blink undecidedly as cabs race each other, ferrying early birds to work. Walkers, joggers and cyclists are under constant threat from vehicular predators. Their habitat, the fragmented footpath, has been driven (literally) to extinction. In farther reaches of the galaxy (such as Bellandur), footpaths have not even troubled the imagination of the authorities.
I’m curious about how a wall becomes a magnet for micturition. Back when Sulabh complexes and Nirmala Bengaluru toilets were figments of fantasy, public toilets were fortresses of glazed tiles guarded by cows and dogs and hidden behind foothills of garbage and other fragrant surprises. Forget about pay-and-use, most people wouldn’t accept payment to use them. They preferred to commit the deed at a safe distance. In time, the toilet’s circle of influence extended a good fifty feet from the inner sanctum. These communal relief zones also performed another important function – olfactory land marking.