Thursday, May 16, 2013

Page 3 of the Travels in Bangalore: The True Identity


The sun that shines on the asbestos roofs is the same as the one seen from the balcony of my cousin’s spacious Raheja Residency apartment in Kormangala. It just feels different. It is a matter of perspective. Everything is as we perceive it to be. As humans, we are members of several groups. Each distinct in its own way. We adapt and carry on with multiple identities through our lives. The success of an individual is often determined by their ability to adapt to the changing definitions of their groups.

In view of this fact, it would be practically impossible to find a definite identity for a city filled with a million such individuals. The city will change its sounds, flavors, colors and nature with every street and neighborhood. Banashankari is not the same as Jayanagar is not the same as Malleswaram or 
Kormangala. Each a separate element, that is part of a whole.

This holiday began as a break from my practiced routine, in order to discover my identity, my one cause that drives my life. Instead, I have come to the realization of a new existence. For the last two weeks, my sojourns through the highs and lows of this young city in India, have made me realize several things. So, forgive me if I get philosophical in this blog.

The family is now preparing for the third marriage in my generation. I am slowly realizing the fact that my whole world is going to change permanently. I am now on the cusp of the realization, yet like many people I, somewhat, resent this changing environment. My brother was pointing out how our definitions of ‘the family’ changes drastically once we get married. We go from being single adults with time for beer and movies, to responsible men with chores, and financial liabilities. Marriage is not just accepting someone else in your life, but opening the door to a whole new truck full of people with a different surname. But, we still have to try to be part of this changing 
dynamics.

So I put on the faces to meet the faces I meet. With elders, I am the impish rogue. With cousins, I am the smartass from Bombay (Yes, they still pronounce it that way). With kids, I am the storyteller. I am young. I am old. I am many things, and one thing at once.

There is something admirable in the way a city accepts change. Unlike us, it does not let the change affect its inherent quality. There might be a surplus of malls and KFC’s filled with low jean wearing youngsters. There might be automatic cars racing down newly paved concrete corridors; but the city of Bangalore has retained some of its orthodox qualities. Somewhere deep down inside, it is still the same. Like the city of my dreams, Mumbai.

‘Of the Unreal there is no existence; Of the real there is no non existence”

The Vedic philosophy defines reality as something that remains constant, in the face of eternal change. In an ever changing world, where we shift our relationship dynamics according to the need of the moment, such philosophy might seem redundant. Our relationships change, our profiles change, our nature changes, our status messages change constantly. Yet, there is something within that does not change, but remains constant.

It is this constant value that defines our identity more than anything else. We might be drunk yuppies at a stinking bar, or a lecherous crowd whistling at the item girl on screen in a theater, but we will close our eyes and pray when crossing a temple on the street. We might hate mindless rituals, but will accede to be a part of it, just so our parents enjoy a little comeback on the nosy neighbors. Values do not exist in the activity, but in the thought that goes into it.

As I sit and write this, I am outside the Vidyarthi Bhavan hotel in Gandhi Market area of Bangalore city. Established in 1943, the small hotel has served generations of Bangaloreans. My uncle, all of 78 years, has been eating here for the last 70 years of his life. He tells me that the streets around the hotel have changed. Traffic has increased. Political climes have changed. Superstars have moved on to other galaxies. Sportsmen and musicians and litterateurs have vanished from the face of the earth. But the masala in the dosa remains unchanged.

The constant. The reality. The true identity. 

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