Before you enter a city, any city, the first thing you sense is an urgency of movement. People, animals, vehicles move with an intention, with a purpose of getting somewhere. Modern life has, in many ways, killed the art of sauntering. There is no form of leisurely stroll known anymore to the species, urbano sapiensis, or the city man. This is a species preoccupied with jobs, chores, money, problems and driven by ambition, needs, desires and a constant drive for achieving the improbable. Bangalore, or Bengaluru, is a city that is home to several creatures of this species.
The bus journey began on a noisy, cacophonous Sunday night, which was like many other nights in Mumbai. It was filled with a nervous, edgy tension that has come to define the city of my constant residence. The decision to make this trip, a break from my daily life, had already caused a couple of fights and several bouts of acidity. Yet, I had to make this journey. To get away from the routine and a stagnancy that had crept into my life, my thoughts and my ideas. I needed a new crowded confine to structure my view. This, was the only option where I could avail of food, clothing and shelter for free, while enjoying the sights. So, I climbed into a cold, blacked out, plushly equipped bus at Chembur to begin with. The journey was uneventful, to the best.
The arrival at Bangalore was the first sense of languor that I experienced. The city migt lack the suffocating terseness of Mumbai, and the crowds, for that matter; but the intent is ripe. This is a growing cosmopolis. If the Indian team were symbolic of the nation, Bengaluru would be Rohit Sharma - blessed with a fluid, languorous style that often outshines the grit, sweat and determined orthodoxy hidden deep beneath.
Do not be mistaken. People here work just as hard, as in any other metropolis. But theirs is not the juggernaut frenzy of Mumbai, that would crush you without a second thought. There is a certain soporific air that embalms the city. Or maybe, I am just taking in the holiday air. In either case, it was hard not to experience it.
The Majestic bus terminal is a place tha belies its name. Unlike the grandiose Gothic architecture at CST, that I have come to love, this terminal was not half as majestic. It is well planned, organised and practical. The buses arrive and depart at planned terminals, located in a semi circular formation, and numbered according to their buses. For someone from Mumbai, it is surprising to see no one showing their hands to stop buses, but you'll get over it. Once the structural bias for Mumbaiiya things give way, you tend to surmise the marvellous practicality of the plan.
People are constantly milling about, even at 2pm in the hot May afternoon. As a regular traveller of the 7.30 Karjat local, and having visited the Lalbag Ganpati mandal and on Virar locals, my definition of a crowd can be...subjective. Majestic is a place for college kids, policemen, vendors, salesmen, and everybody coming and going to various destinations in the city. Each individual awaiting a commute to the next stop. Much like in life. A terminal patience fills you with every sight of the stop. Inspite of the teeming sweat that might stifle you. But, I digress.
The people in Bengaluru require a paragraph unto themselves. And I am gonna give it to them. They are well versed in Hindi and English. This is what makes it an easier place to move about alone, than any other city in South India. A question in any language, will be answered directly, in a strictly no nonsense manner. Nobody here likes repeated questions. Ask them more than once, thou shalt diss them. For someone habituated to the patronising candour and overt friendliness of Mumbai, this might be a refreshing change.
My repeated visits to this city have always rejuvenated my love for their buses. Sleek, vast, spacious, turbo charged and sometimes, equipped with dolby speakers playing the hits of the day in the loudest manner. They cannot be missed. The Volvo city buses will drop the jaws of Mumbaikars who are used to crowded paan spittled footboards and cussing when climbing into someone's armpit. The moment the door of the Volvo bus opened with a 'psssssh', I was impressed. Of course, there are other 'ordinary' buses that ply the routes, more crowded, teeming with the workforce and cussing ladies that make me feel right at home. But for any newcomer to the city, the experience of sitting in a bus with French windows and watching it pass down the flyover across Race Course, through Cubbon Park, and out through the Silk Board Road is like a comfortable drive through the rabbit hole.
Now, for the rest of the travelogue to unfold as it does. Do stay tuned.
(Being updated according to the writing speed of the author. Complaints will not be entertained, so don't bother.)