Friday, February 25, 2011

Nostalgia-Life in Bangalore and my village in Tumkur

Travelling brings about a new awareness of one’s own city and the ability to see it with a fresh perspective.
Born and brought up in Bangalore, I have spent most or all of my life here until I moved to Canada in 2004. I had not thought of Bangalore with any degree of depth except to grumble about the increase in crowds, the traffic and it’s ever expanding sprawl.
After returning to Bangalore in 2006, I saw Bangalore differently and became aware of things which I had felt only subliminally in the past. I compared and contrasted it with other cities, with smaller towns, with Toronto and New York and also compared the Bangalore of today to the Bangalore of many years ago.
Contrasting Bangalore today(2006) with the Bangalore of my childhood,(1970s) I find a million changes. I have tried to compile things which were in Bangalore during my childhood and teens (Late 60s through 70s and early 80s) but are now absent or rarely seen. I am trying to note down all that I can remember. I am also not discussing this material with anyone else as everyone will want to shove their ideas here and I want this to be a bag of my memories only! So some stuff you know of , may be missing......but remember it was not part of my experience or..... I can’t recall it while penning this account. Also do remember that I grew up in Malleshwaram and West of Chord road, Rajajinagar and so there may be more material from these areas than other areas. Bangalore has changed in several thousand ways but this lengthy essay covers only that which I noticed.
Let me also acknowledge the fact that I was inspired to write this by the wonderful writings of Dr.M.N.Srinivas, especially his book  "The remembered village". This work is now a classic and is about the village Rampura, written from a sociological and anthropological perspective.
What is written below is a stream of memories as it flowed through my mind and so these are not in any particular order…definitely not in a neat chronological order ! However I am sure that readers from Bangalore can recognize what is described in this monologue and can recall when these people existed or things happened. The changes sweeping Bangalore are huge…economically, socially, politically, demographically, and so on. So many professions have appeared and disappeared, so many events have changed or disappeared over time and it is difficult to identify the exact time of these changes. While change is an inevitable law of nature, I do feel a deep sadness about the loss of some professions, some changes in the life styles of the citizens, and I bitterly rue the vanishing of some customs, attitudes and skill-sets.
Life on the streets of Bangalore in the 70s:
I remember a middle aged man who carried a doll at the top of a long stick with a pink candy round the stick; he would shape this pink candy into a wrist watch, for a price of course and tie it to a kid’s hands and the child would eat this candy. I don’t remember he calling out anything but his doll-stick had a bell and it would jingle as he walked. ( This seems to be going on in 2014 too. My friend's daughter has a photo of this guy selling the same stuff in the Gandhibazar area of Bangalore!)


On rare occasions, I had seen a guy, who was almost naked, covered with blood which he drew from his body by whipping himself with a horrifying sound with a wicked looking whip. He was accompanied by his wife, (I think she is his wife) a skinny, malnourished woman who collected money from passersby. He was probably a devotee of some God and did this both as part of his worship and livelihood too. The lady with him was in a ragged sari and would collect both money and food grains like rice from the people.
Others who sold goods walking door to door on the streets included a person selling puffed rice which he carried in a sack on his head. That reminds me of another change… In my childhood I remember that gunny sacks were used store all bulk materials i.e. both food grains and cement. Later these were gradually replaced by the plastic bags.

When we moved to Rajajinagar (west of chord road) in the early 70s, it was still a huge area of green land with hardly any houses. The only houses were those of village-houses/huts which existed before the government made the agricultural land into sites or work-in-progress, new houses.
 I remember that a middle aged woman selling buttermilk, which she carried in a mud pot on her head, roamed the new, yet untarred streets. The workers at the construction sites bought the butter milk from her to quench their thirst.
I also recall,, an old lady (or any male or female who appeared to be of rural, lower economic background, selling outside various schools) selling guavas, those red berries called Eleche hannu, goose berries, roasted groundnuts outside schools for 5 paisa, 10 paisa, etc….which reminds me of one more set of things you don’t see these days i.e. small coins and old currency…small coins such ….. One paisa coin, two paisa, three paisa, five and ten and the yellow twenty paisa coin. I had also received from shops the one and two Anna coins and a few silver quarters with the King of England’s profile on some. These Anna coins were probably given by mistake and I have saved them in my collection. I would sit and pour out my old coin collection and look at the coins when I was a child. I loved the wonderful feelings I experienced looking at those coins, especially looking at the ones  supposedly  made of silver! The old one, two and five rupee notes are also absent now. Just to let you know my dear reader, I simply dislike the new coins minted by the Indian government. They are so dull, the engraving is so poor that the engraving appears faded after use and the colour/metal used is so depressing to look at. My grandmother used to tell us of the silver one rupee coins she had used in her childhood and I loved hearing her stories and loved feeling and looking at the one single silver rupee she had saved for us! But I digress!

Pushcart vendors selling ice candy, ice-cream sticks on the roads….calling out loudly ‘ice cream’ were another set of people, who roamed the streets on hot summer afternoons and we would run out on the streets with small change to buy it, if we could convince our parents to part with the money. I remember five other sets of people who moved from door-to-door offering goods and services. One was a guy who sharpened knives, going from door to door and he would do his job with a solid grinding stone attached to a cycle wheel. He would set this apparatus down and pedal the wheel, holding the knife to the wheel, letting sparks fly. After completing his job, there would be a long bargain, with the house-wife or which ever customer telling he is asking too much and he is protesting that he is not! I remember that while people did not bargain much with stuff like ice-creams, they always bargained when it came to services and vegetables. The second was the person who pushed a rectangular cart and set it at street corners and ironed clothes for people. The iron box, was huge, heavy, made of iron (not one of the light-weight Teflon bottomed ones you see today!) and heated with coal. I loved the odor of the clothes, when they were ironed and the glowing red embers in the iron-box! The third was the guy (usually from north India or Tamil Nadu) who exchanged or sold steel vessels. He would go door to door, giving new steel vessels in exchange for old clothes, preferably silk saris. I do not know if they burnt the saris and extracted gold and silver from the brocade embroidery or sold the clothes but what they did with the old clothes always intrigued me! I also recall the jokes men made about their wives giving away their pants and shirts for the shiny new vessels. The fourth set of guys we do not see today were the Tiffin-carrier guys. My dad worked at the agriculture university in Hebbal. He would leave for work, early morning after breakfast. The lunch, consisting of rice and sambar would not be ready by the time he left for work. And so there was this guy, who went to different houses, collecting Tiffin-boxes (steel, three tier, put in a long, cylindrical bag) by bicycle and cycling all the way to Hebbal and delivering the lunch-boxes. Now, I don’t think, anyone would believe that there were people, collecting lunch-boxes from homes, cycling all the way to Hebbal (Hebbal seemed to be far away, on the outskirts of the city in those days). I think, he also collected the empty lunch-boxes and got them back to the homes, if I remember right. Were the men too proud to carry their lunch-boxes home? I don’t know. The fifth set of people who did business walking door to door where the men who bought old newspapers, milk sachets from people. When I came to the west and saw that people simply threw their used newspapers, I recalled the umpteen ways newspapers were used in India! After reading, some would cut out interesting articles and save them (for future use or future generations but this has not happened …One cant find it when one wants it and the future generations are not interested in reading what interested you!). Many would stack them neatly in some corner of the house to sell it to these men who came buying old newspapers in bulk for recycling. Dirt from rooms, was swept on to old newspapers and then thrown. Rice, wheat, etc were spread on newspapers to clean them of tiny pebbles before being cooked. Old newspapers lined shelves. They were used by shop-keepers for packing rice, and a million other purchases. I remember also how precious these newspapers were in my village as no one bought them. My dad would take stacks of old newspapers to give to farmers rearing silk worms for their use. (the worms in various stages were spread on these old newspapers as also the mulberry leaves). I am a voracious reader and there was such as shortage of reading material when I visited my village, that I would read these old newspapers! I never ever read Kannada by choice but due to absence of anything to read in English, I would read the old newspapers brought by my father to the village. Hell! I would even read the patch of a newspaper, wrapped on a book, when I was in the village! The most sad-funny-touching use of newspapers I have seen are the cuttings of Gods and Goddesses by my grandmother to keep in her prayer books and pooja room and the cuttings of film actors and actresses by young village boys and girls who had no other access to them in print. If one observes, the poorer sections of Indian society, one can see the multiple uses of not just newspapers but any item, which is considered worthless in the west.
The other people on the streets we do not see today were the guys who came with animals like a dancing bear, monkeys, snakes, a group of people(called Dombaru) who performed acrobatics on the streets   to collect money. I remember a Telugu movie where these folks i.e. Dombaru were part of the story.

Men selling roasted peanuts, salted cucumber slices, etc are still seen at parks I think, but I have not been to Bangalore parks for so long, I do not know for sure. There were men in dhoties selling guavas, carried on their head in a large tray-like basket. The guavas were either red or white fleshed, costed about 10-25 paise each and he would cut the fruit selected by the customer (who were generally young kids), put in the salt and chilli powder and hand it over. I also recall sacks of coal on cycles and fire-wood on carts being delivered at homes. And of course the kerosene in large drums with a tap, wheeled around on carts in the city, sold at your door-step.

I would love to have photos of these vendors at work! If anyone reading this blog have such photos, I would be grateful to have copies of those photos. I have not seen these people captured for posterity in movies or ads or any old photos. I do know however that R.K.Narayan has written a short story about the knife-sharpener(Can a person who sharpens knives, be called a knife-sharpener? I don’t know. You tell me!) and cute illustrations by his brother R.K.Laxman accompanied the short story in Illustrated weekly of India ages ago. R.K.Narayan and maybe other writers too have mentioned these people in their stories. These vendors and common folks of India of the 60s, 70s and 80s may be portrayed in old movies but I simply can’t recall any such movie (Bhagyavantaru has a scene of a lady selling vegetables, Aarthi sells some stuff door to door in Shubhamangala, but that is all I can recall).
I know that as recently as 2010, people do sell vegetables carried on their heads in baskets or pushed on cycles or carts in some parts of Bangalore. But not in all streets like before.
Now in 2011, walking on the streets of Bangalore is a nightmare, let alone, balancing a basket of vegetables on your head to sell it to buyers ! The noise level, the motor cyclists driving on the pavements, the vendors competing for space with the pedestrians are impossible to cope with.

Some other memories of the things absent today include puzzles on cheap flimsy paper which came with newspapers… we were expected to solve the puzzle and mail it to addresses in Bombay or Delhi to win a transistor or other stuff ! I realized how awful the prizes were after winning a prize (a transistor which leaked the battery cells and dint work) and sending money for shipping.

Another memory is of the daily lottery draws for bus tickets and people holding on to their tickets to hopefully win a prize. I think this scheme was started to encourage people to buy tickets and prevent ticketless travel.
One favourite memory of mine is buying antique, carved or engraved copper and brass vessels outside the K.R.Market fort in the 80s. There are make-shift shops clinging to the fort-wall near Victoria hospital and the Government Dental College and hospital, where a couple of shops sold this antique brass ware. The remaining shops sold the cheap plastic stuff such as table cloths, slippers, aluminum vessels, etc.
A friend’s brother who lives in Kilari road, just off Avenue road, visits the Sunday market on the streets of Market and comes home with antique stuff which catches his eye. I just love some of his collection, which he has got for peanuts! Most are idols of more than 100 years old…most are not in great shape, but the thrill and excitement of hunting for antiques in those crowded and dirty streets is simply mind-blowing!
For people interested in old electrical appliances, the streets on Sundays, near K.R.Market, such as Avenue road are gold mines.
I know a guy in Canada who has collected different typewriters . If he comes to India, he would find so many from the British era in various nooks and crannies of India!

Life at home:
The biggest difference I can think of between now and 25 years ago, about my home/ homes of friends and relatives, is that people had fewer possessions back then. Now people have a lot more materials in their house, cramming space.

The things people had in those days mostly included clothes stored in Godrej almirahs or iron trunks (kept under cots), vessels ( copper ones were polished and kept for display in high shelves) steel, copper and aluminum, some furniture such as iron folding chairs, a tea-poi or small table, iron or wood cots with beds (cotton beds which could be folded in the morning). The houses also had a radio, clock (winding type with alarm), electric fans (usually table top fans than ceiling fans)cycle or scooter depending on their economic status, electric stove or kerosene stove, huge brass ‘handes’ with electric coil to heat the water for bath. If the house had a telephone, you can be sure it was an office phone and this means the person was a ‘high-up’ officer in the government!
No one I know had a car, among my relatives, friends and neighbours except one neighbour and one school class mate (Ambassador cars and fiats). Except 2-3 families, none had phones and those who had, had it because their office installed it at their homes. Many families owned scooters. I do know, a few people who loved music had cassette players. All families owned iron-boxes. We bought several over years as they simply did not last.
I have to mention here that I had a gullible father who always bought electrical, electronic and other items too from Burma Bazaar, in the Majestic area of Bangalore which sold fake ‘foreign’ goods which did not last even a month. My dad unfortunately preferred to believe the crooks selling these fake goods than family members who advised him against buying there! My dad bought umpteen iron boxes, ‘citizen’ watches, etc but never seemed to learn his lesson. He would blame us when things stopped working and say things like, we did not use the iron box ‘properly’, we did not switch it on or off ‘properly’ and so on.
If you are one who believes that professors with PhDs cannot be conned, by these vendors from the streets of the Majestic area, think again. My dad and his collegues at the University, were all gulled at this Burma Bazar.
So what chance do the innocents from villages and small towns stand against these rapacious vendors? Thousands get taken for a ride daily in the streets and gullies of Majestic and lose their hard-earned money. It drives me mad to see farmers (of all the people who get cheated, I feel most sorry for the farmers and villagers) whose money is so painfully earned getting scammed away by these crooks selling rubbish. I should also bring to your attention, the hundreds of villagers and small town guys who come to Bangalore and return to their homes after ‘a night on the town’.... after acquiring HIV & other STDs.
Coming back from my irate rambling, to the subject of life at home……Now the number of things one has in a house is 50 times more than before. But I am not sure if we are 50 times happier than before! Of course, today, we are more comfortable, (example we have the ac in summer)have more stimulating experiences(movies and books and hobbies) and more activities to keep us busy. We are also doing a lot less of the strenuous physical work of the past. The use of the mixer in the kitchen is one huge labour reducer. I remember my grandmother at the grinding stone daily morning making chutney, later she was grinding the masala for the sambar. On holidays my dad would pound the various ingredients to make the chutney pudi and this would take nearly half a day! Pounding the tamarind, red chillis, and some hardy dhals was an especial pain!
My family got a washing machine only recently but the laundry was another time sucking chore. Today’s kids who live in flats are not aware of the granite stone in the backyards of houses where the clothes were pounded daily noon by the wife or the maid servants in most homes. For some reason I enjoyed the ritual of soaking the clothes in soap water (surf), waiting a while and then pounding the clothes on the granite slab in the backyard. Rinsing them and hanging them out to dry on the clothes line followed by watching the Sunday evening movie on tv with coffee and vada was a pleasant end to the chores of the Sunday. But sometimes when it was cold or raining, I hated washing ; the clothes which had soaked for too long in the soap water would stink and get my parents yelling at me to finish the washing! My neighbour, was saying, that these days, with water scarcely flowing through the taps, washing is not much fun anymore. One has to be ready to wash even at an unearthly hour such as 3 am if that is when the water flows!
We still sweep the house with the broom as vacuum cleaning has still not caught up in India. Maybe it will some time soon. Who knows? Meanwhile I hear men, who do no household work, telling the women in their families, that machines are not good and doing these chores is a good form of exercise!
Cooking at home was on kerosene stove, later on an electric coil stove and then gas. I have eaten food cooked by all three in my life-time. Also when I visited my village, all village house-holds cooked on firewood burning ovens; my grandmother cooked on a stove made by aligning 3-6 bricks and piling wood in between.
In some Brahmin houses, cooking was on ‘agastige’ i.e. coal burning stoves, wood burning stoves as late as 1992 in one household I know. I remember that we had wood-burning in the ‘va-le’ in the bathroom for heating bath-water in the 70s. I also remember the cow-patty burning ovens(do we call it an oven? I don’t know) of families in rural areas and those in Bangalore who owned cows.
Talking of cow-dung, does anyone today see, buckets of water mixed with cow dung and spread in front of the houses on muddy ground, to harden the ground and make it less dusty? Well I know of many families in Bangalore who bought cow dung from those who owned cows; spreading the cow dung and water mixture and making a hard green patch on the muddy ground at the entrance of their homes and putting rangoli on it. I bet none of the city kids of today know the multiple uses of cow dung in the last(and even now) decade.

I remember all houses including ours had a radio and we would listen to film songs on the radio and also the radio dramas and films sound tracks on Sundays. Now I don’t see radios in most houses or the transistors. Later i.e. in the 80s, I saw black and white television sets in homes and now they too have disappeared! Now we see colour television sets in most houses. Computer and internet is another life-style altering change which was absent in my younger days. Today, I can’t imagine how life would be without the television, computer and internet!
Let me add here about the typing of my MA thesis in 1986 on a typewriter. First I had to find someone who would type it for me quickly, and this person should also charge reasonably and type accurately without mistakes. One mistake meant that the entire page had to go and everything typed anew! (my professor would not accept white-inked corrections!). I spent a lot of time finding a typist who was right for me!
The next thesis (M.Phil) I had to type was done by a typist with an electronic typewriter in 1990. This was slightly better (you can see the mistakes and correct them before they were in ink). The last, i.e. my PhD was typed on a computer in 1999. It was fantastic to do it on a computer but it also meant that my supervisor would ruthlessly and frequently make changes and I had to keep taking printouts of the same matter over and over again! Now life is so easy after the coming of computers for millions of people such as secretaries, clerks, accountants and anyone who has to deal with written matter. The generation born and brought up in the computer age would not be able to manage a day without the computer.
My cousins kids aged 7 & 8 from Canada who saw a typewriter in the attic of my house were fascinated by it and felt that it was ‘cool’ and enjoyed typing away! I am sure they would have been fascinated by the dial up phone too in my house had they seen it.

The compulsory government documentary before the movie started in the movie theatre & the advertisements and the national anthem at end of the movie with the picture of the Indian national flag are other things of the past. But I am not completely sure if these have disappeared or are still present as I have not seen a movie in an Indian theatre for at least past 15 years.

School Life:
Life in school is quite different today from the life I had in school. Most of us studied in the schools with state syllabus but today most schools seem to have the central syllabus. The texts I see today are really scary to me! They seem to be so complex and difficult and definitely too much for the age group them are meant for! I don’t know if kids today are born with a greater IQ than we were born. I am sure I could never have coped with today’s syllabus, if I was born about 20 years later than I was born! I would probably flunk in 4th grade and drop out of school and become a delinquent! (stealing money from my parents, watching movies and maybe playing videogames!) But some things which do not seem to have changed include the autocratic behaviour of teachers, the uninspiring style of teaching and the absence of playtime and play grounds. I am glad that teachers are less punitive than in my days. The painful punishments I was receiving included being hit on the knuckles with the edge of the wooden scale and the most humiliating was being asked to partially undress( i.e. take the buttons of your skirt/shorts) in front of the whole class of boys and girls. But I do believe that kids in government schools and schools with low fees (and attended by the poorer sections of society where the kids are brutalized by under-paid teachers and remain unprotected by their parents who remain silent… the parents are afraid that their child is will be kicked out of school if they protest)
Materially there are some changes since my time. When I was a school kid, some school kids had an aluminum box to carry school books while most had bags. I so badly wanted one of those silvery looking boxes but my dad got me the school bag, a khaki one worn on the back with straps. By the end of the year it was in tatters, evidence of the huge weight of the books I carried daily to school!
Multi tier Tiffin boxes of steel and aluminum to school were the rule in my school time. Now these have been replaced by multi-coloured plastic Tiffin boxes with cartoon figures on them. Lekak note books were popular in the 70s and maybe 80s as also note books with photos of gods and nature. We loved notebooks with photos of film stars on the front cover but these were frowned upon by our teachers. Today there’s an amazing range of note books available. The artsy note books made of hand-made paper, scented paper, leather bound books, engraved and embossed books available today are mind-boggling!

Life at home: Food & Clothes and other things
Today I am sure a lot of middle class people buy their rice, wheat and sugar from private grocery stores but during the 70s, 80s and maybe even earlier, most middle class and lower middle classes would buy only from the government run ration depot. Each family had a ration card with the names of the family members on it and would get sugar, rice, wheat, semolina and the precious kerosene at the government ration depot than in the other shops where they cost (or at least according to my dad) more. I am so glad and thankful the days of the ration shop is over for me at least. I hated the repeated visits to the shop to ask if the kerosene or sugar had arrived and be told that it has not or it arrived and it was finished, to stand in long queues for obtaining these products. The rice was simply awful, the worker who sold you the stuff seemed to cheat at measurement & weights, the fights which broke out in the queues were appalling and embarrassing to me, a sensitive teenager at that time. My dad refused to buy sugar(or rice or anything available at the ration shop) from other stores. Often the rice from the ration shop was unpalatable and he finally stopped getting rice from this ration shop when the women in the house absolutely refused to cook the ration shop rice! These are some of the bitter memories of my childhood life.
As many sufferers from Bangalore would recognize, the ration card played many other roles than simply providing kerosene, rice and sugar! It was also an identity card for a family! We had to produce the ration card and our name on it, to prove our existence to some government organizations to get any work done from that organization. It was hell for me after I got married as my name was not on the ration card of my husband’s family and I stayed too far from my parents family! Also I know of a family, where the eldest son and family ‘inherited’ the ration card (the government stopped issuing ration cards at some time) and could get low cost products and the younger sons and their families were bitter! I have a lot more ration card stories but I guess this is enough to give a flavour of the role played by the ration card in the life of thousands of Bangaloreans! My nieces today do not know what a ration card is or maybe they do not even know what kerosene is!

Milk is another topic on which I can write a book ! Families in Bangalore depended on Bangalore dairy milk, a small number of families depended on Nilgiris dairy milk even smaller number bought cows & buffalo milk. I have seen milk from cows and buffaloes delivered even today to houses in some parts of Bangalore. These cattle are looked after by some people who either milk the cattle at home and deliver the milk in those grey tin cans or walk the cows to the house and milk the cow right outside the house and deliver! Fresh off the udder, so to speak! The reason they are forced to walk the cow from house to house is ‘trust issues’ with the buyers; the buyers suspect that the milkman will adulterate the milk with water and insist that the cow be milked in front of their eyes! (Will the milk be watery if the milk-man gives the cow buckets of water to drink, just before milking? I don’t know!) I also know that on certain occasions like festivals and poojas, people insist on cow’s milk and certain orthodox Brahmins use cows milk daily. Bangalore, the silicon valley of India, retaining cattle in spite of its modernity is a blessing for these people! I also recently discovered a new use for these cows. There are other uses for cows in the modern city of Bangalore, even today. I have a friend who buys cows urine and drinks it for health purpose! I know of many software professionals who needed a cow to walk through their new house on the day of the housewarming ceremony(Gruhapravesha) to bless their house. I know of lots of Brahmin intellectuals (scientists, engineers, doctors) who use cow dung as part of the Pooja on some days. Before you guys start accusing me, let me add that it is not just Brahmins but lots of Hindus, it is not just intellectuals or these professionals but most Hindus use cow dung in Poojas. I find it ironical that "modern Bangalore" continues to have need for cows and cow dung; imagine a Brahmin engineer for whom both the computer and cow dung are almost equally important and he cannot do without either of them! The cow dung, cow urine for his spiritual needs and the computer for his professional needs. Once again, I have digressed. Pardon me!
Milk came in bottles from the Bangalore dairy during the 70s and maybe 80s too. I do not remember when they stopped the bottles and started the sachets. Thick curds in a white plastic tin with a blue lid were delivered but I think they no longer deliver curds or they deliver it in sachets. I do know that the Nandini peda continues to be supplied but the cost has more than quadrupled! The earliest cost of milk I remember was 80 paise for half litre bottle. I am not sure what it costs now but I know it is more than 10 times 1.60 per litre.
I remember that many families would buy cloth material and get the cloth stitched by tailors before festivals like Deepavali and Ugadi. Now my little nephews and nieces buy their clothes ready made. I remember buying material in Binny mill stores at Mekri circle and National Textiles and other stores in Majestic. Now the Binny mills store no longer exists. I think (but am not sure but) a watch company i.e. Titan bought or took over the Binny Mills space in Mekri circle. I also remember my dad buying a length of the same material for me and all my sisters! Now I do not think any two sisters will let their parents buy the same material for them! There is so much to say about clothing and what changes have happened now. I and many middle class girls wore langas and blouses while now only very little girls(below 6 years maybe) wear silk langas for festive occasions while most wear western clothes such as frocks, jeans, and north Indian styles such as salwar-kameezs and lehengas. Listen, I may be wrong here. Maybe there are many families where the kids wear langas but I do not see them in my circle. Also I have not visited or seen life in smaller towns and other cities than Bangalore and do not know what is happening there. Even when I was a child, I hardly saw any girls wearing the langa daavanis though many heroines in movies wore them! ( I think the langa daavani is an indication of a girl not yet married while the sari implied that she is married or older or some such meaning).
In the 70s, Flared pants and printed shirts were worn by women and flared pants and printed shirts were worn by men. Looking back now, I still sort of like the women’s clothes but the men’s printed shirts seem to be awful! Now, you see only plain, checks or striped shirts on men….even in rural areas, which are relatively slow to change with the trends. I remember my husband being gifted with awful printed shirt pieces (i.e. it is a length of shirt material to be stitched into a shirt) on our wedding day by relatives! I was furious at the cloth materials but realize that it was simply being regifted by people who had themselves received the awful pieces from someone else! I wanted to throw them but my dad, who is frugal to the point of being miserly, took them, got them stitched and wore them for years and years!
What else do I remember about dressing and clothes? Oh. I loved the textile advertisements both on paper and on movie screens. They were lovely. I still remember the ads of Bombay dyeing, Vimal, Chellarams, Binnys, Priyadarshni silks and others( I cant remember the names of the other companies).
Today men buy readymade under garments.  Until a few years ago, my dad was buying white cotton material called ‘long cloth’ and getting his underwear i.e. vests and boxer-type shorts stitched by a tailor. He  further economised by buying what was called ‘kora batte’ i.e. a beige-coloured cloth woven with probably unrefined cotton as it was cheaper than  the 'white' long cloth. 
I am sure that today, none of  the men  in my village wear the ‘langoti’ i.e. loin cloth i.e. a cloth tied round the waist in lieu of underwear. But I remember seeing old men in Langoties in the 70s, when I was a kid. My memory of village men was of men clad in white dhotis, &white shirts or some would wear khaki half pants with white shirts and a towel round their heads if it was hot or if they were carrying heavy loads on their heads; if not, the towel, would be on one shoulder. Now the scene has changed completely and one sees the dhoti very rarely and sees more of pants and shirts.
Women wore cotton saris and later changed to the synthetic saris which were cheap and easier to wash. Girls were in langas and blouses or shirts in the 70s and 80s. And anyone (for example me) who wore salwars and kameezs were stared at by every villager  and questioned why I dressed like a ‘muslim’. Now, in 2010, when I visited my village, I saw girls in pants and long shirts…but remember these were pre-pubescent girls. (the pants and shirts are still accompanied by the mandatory flowers in hair, one or two plaits, long earrings and kumkum, which simply do not look good  with pants and shirts in my opinion!) The post-pubescent are not yet wearing pants but do wear salwars and kameezs and churidars, without their elders
getting upset!
Dressing and grooming today is very different from that of my childhood. Women of my parent’s generation rarely ever went to beauty parlours or used make up. My generation does. My generation women in villages are like their mothers but the current generation of young women from villages use make up (Make up is limited to lipstick, nail polish and getting eye brows tweezed. That’s it. But even this minimal attention to looks can earn severe reprimands from parents and elders in the village and aspersions about the girls’ character cast by the busy bodies of the village!) Use of lipstick was so strongly associated with loose character, loose morals and sex that many women who grew in that culture, refuse to use make up even today. Another change I have seen but maybe it is my imagination and not true….is that earlier north Indian women seemed to use make up but now lots of people in the south do; earlier only upper class women and city women used make up but now use of make up is prevalent in rural and small town and in all classes of women. I remember an aunt of mine sarcastically telling that her maid servant demands extra money for working extra on festival days and spending the money in the beauty parlour. Whether my aunt was angry that her ‘servant’ is ‘dressing up’ or angry that she is asking for extra cash, I don’t know. But it is really nice to see the differences between the lower and upper classes decreasing today in various ways. The disparity in dressing has definitely reduced. Now the differences are at a more subtle and sophisticated level.
One last thing I have to mention here is the use of hair dye in both rural and urban India. My dad and all his friends had their and continue to have their original hair color to this day. Some of the women from my mother’s generation, at least the ones in the cities, dye their hair black. Of my generation, some women refused to dye or meddle with their hair, some like me started dying their hair while others who believe that the chemicals are harmful, use henna to cover their greying hair and turn their hair into an awful orange color which is worse than if it had been left grey! I would have been amused by this orange but as one of the orange haired ladies is my own sister, I am furious and not amused! In my village, I had heard that the only time people bought hair dye was to dye their aging buffaloes just before they were taken to be sold at the village fair. Imagine my surprise when I visited my village in 2010 after many years and found that lots of village folks are now dyeing their hair! Both men and women! I was surprised especially by the fact that men have also started. Many appear embarrassed and sheepish about it but have the strength of mind to go ahead and dye!
Continuing this talk about villages and the changes in my village over time, I would like to mention a few changes I have witnessed. Of course, there is television too in my village now. Initially black and white and now color. However, due to frequent power cuts, the people miss many programs. There is greater anger about the powercuts affecting the television than affecting the vital water supply to the fields! I recall my uncle bemoaning how badly the television has affected the work ethic of the younger generation in his family and the labourers in his fields. When one person (the richest in the village) bought the first television, the entire village (except those who were not on talking terms with the family) were at their door, crowding into their overflowing house to see the boring government programs. Later as more households got televisions, the crowds reduced a bit! Now all work in the village (and city too) centered around the television! The cleaning of food grains, cutting mulberry leaves for fodder for the silk worms, shelling peanuts and a myriad other tasks were all done in front of the television in a hot crowded, mosquito infested room!
Some other changes in my village which appear great theoretically but very distressing in actual fact have occurred. The appearance of the English medium schools is one such. I know that the only way to escape poverty is education and that English education gives greater access to knowledge than Kannada but the quality of these schools is poor. One really can’t blame anyone but the circumstances. I do not mind the poor quality of the school, the teaching, etc. What I simply hate is the fear and low self esteem the teachers in these schools inculcate in the poor students with their cruel methods of teaching. I have seen tiny tots being beaten by day care staff in villages and small towns and taluks, which is very very distressing to me. The day cares and schools blindly copy their urban counter-parts. But they imitate in part and not in whole…and the material and methods is so out-of-context in the rural setting. Also the fact that none of their family speak or know English, makes this first generation of English medium students suffer immensely.
Moving away from this distressing topic, there are other changes in my village. The kids looking for jobs in the city, women putting on makeup, opening of nursing and B.ed (Bachelor of education)colleges, influx of other state's people.
I had seen bicycles in my village during my childhood but only boys &men rode them. Today I see girls too riding cycles. I had seen one exceptional girl who rode a men’s bicycle, with her langa, without problem( without any exposure or discomfort I mean) in the 80s! There are a lot of petrol guzzling two wheelers like mopeds, motorbikes and scooters in my taluk now and a few in the village.
The caste system continues but not exactly like in the past. I do know if unfortunate young people secretly killed by their relatives and silently buried (no police involvement at all!) for falling in love with youth from a lower or different caste in villages of my taluk. I do know that due to education and the mass media, some positive changes have occurred in my village such as a decrease in the number of kids each couple has. However, the access to education has also caused people to put their knowledge to wrong uses such as female foeticide. Other sad changes in my village is the failure of farms (due to ‘no rains’ or ‘untimely rains’) and migration of youth to the cities and those who did well survived in the city but many are leading difficult lives. My dad also migrated to the city for education and later stayed on in the city. So did all of my uncles and many other relatives and family friends I know. However, I think that it was easier in the 40s, 50s and 60s to migrate to the city and do well than now. The older generation seemed to have had excellent schooling in the villages, not inferior to the city’s school education. Also lack of English knowledge did not seem to deter them from succeeding.
But the gap between cities and villages seems to be huge now especially with regard to the quality of education and access to educational aids such as the internet, libraries, labs, museums, etc. The rural youth are getting left increasingly behind their city counter parts. The youth who migrate today do not have the skills to get good paying jobs in the city and there are limited job opportunities in rural areas and the traditional agriculture fails for various reasons.
Unless the government makes efforts to deal with rural issues, the problems in rural India will escalate. Other changes I have heard of and noticed in my village and the neighbouring villages is in the various habits.
I belong to a caste(Gowdas i.e.Kunchitigas) which did not eat meat or eggs. Now many villagers of my caste eat meat and eggs (including me). There was only one old man who abused alcohol in about 2 villages I know of and now many use alcohol. The appearance of the village too has changed. There were a handful of houses during my childhood and now there are more houses as the population has increased. The houses built today too are vastly different from those of the older ages. The old houses had one tiny window and were dark even during the day. There were one or two bedrooms, with sturdy doors, which housed the safe and clothes and maybe gunny bags of food grains. The front of the house was usually divided into 4 areas i.e. it had the bathroom, a place for tying the cattle, a kitchen cooking and a living space. This was the most lived in area of the house and rich in heat and smells! Odors of cowdung & cow's urine mixed with smoke from the kitchen fire almost wiped out the delicate smells of whatever one was working on in the living space…shelling peanuts, cleaning rice, peeling avarekai, cutting mulberry leaves or whatever. The mosquitoes in these houses were appalling as they were not small like the city mosquitoes but huge and had a really painful sting( People called them ‘dhanada solle’ i.e. cattle mosquitoes). Most village folks I know seem impervious to mosquito bites while I found it impossible to sleep and spent the entire night, slapping them away.
Now I know many who have mosquito nets at home. There are many changes happening in my village but these changes are uneven and not always for the better. I had hoped for tap water in the village and though it is now available, it is still not enough. Toilets too continue to be absent and people defecate in the fields even today. Which is sad for so many reasons…the absence of privacy( when you walk with a tin of water towards the pit, whoever passes you know what your destination is ), the embarrassment when you have diarrhoea and running to the fields, young girls who have to look around to check if any males are nearby before they sit down to pee, the hygiene issues and so on. And God forbid, you accidentally spill the one precious tin of water before you wash your self!

One change my village went through was the crops they grew. Initially they grew ragi and paddy and when silk production made them rich, many switched partially or fully to growing mulberry instead of rice and ragi in the 80s.  Then they started buying rice at the government run ration depots…it was ironical for me to see farmers buying poor quality rice from shops instead of growing it. Later many farmers failed at silk production due to a combination of poor skills(using too much fertilizer, not keeping the delicate worms safe from insects, heat, etc) and bad luck such as failed or unseasonal rains. Some sociologically interesting events took place in the form of changes brought about by the sudden increase in riches which lead to change in relationships between the people who were once equal. Some families became bitter enemies suspecting others of sabotaging their silk production by spraying weedicides on their mulberry plants. Currently there is little or no production of silk worms in my village. As I told before, one can write an entire book about silk production and how it changed the lives of my village people. Or maybe make a movie! There is enough drama even if one sticks to only events which have happened!
Several changes which occurred in rural India before I was even born should be discussed to make people aware of our past. I have been told by my grandmother of changes which happened when she was young and I have noted a few things she had told me.
The entry of electricity especially the pumpsets for wells in villages made a huge difference. Earlier, only small bits of land were farmed as they had to be watered by bullocks which drew water from the wells. But with the arrival of pumpsets, there was a huge increase in the amount of land a farmer could successfully farm and acres of forest land were cut away for farmland.
The arrival of buses made transport easier to some extent and people started marrying people who were of their caste & sub-caste but in far off villages! Previously, the parents of brides would look for eligible grooms in their own village or at the most, nearby villages. They did not want their beloved daughter to be given away to a groom who lived 10 miles away!

My grandmother also told me that the visit to Tirupati was a once in a lifetime experience for many villagers. They would pack food for a month, travel by ox cart and take about a month or less to get there and back! (Tirupati is about 160 miles away from her village). Hardly any villager in her youth, had travelled beyond a distance of 50 miles from her village. If at all they travelled, it would be to buy something not available in the village or to attend a court case. My grandmother proudly boasted to me that she was the only one in her village to have travelled to Mysore!

The arrival of the flourmill (i.e. a flour-mill which runs on electricity) drastically decreased a major chore of women in the village. My grandmother often spoke of the hours she spent grinding ragi flour between two granite stones. She also told tales of her step mother's cruelty and many of her tales involved the long hours of manually grinding the food grains!
The flourmill itself made a huge difference in the life of the man who owned the flourmill, but that is another story.
My grandmother also told me of the changes she saw in her life-time....of boys in the village cutting off their long hair tied in juttus, changing from dhotis to shorts and pants, boys going to the taluk for higher (i.e high school) education after long struggles with their fathers who did not want them to go to the taluk to study but wanted them to work on the fields instead. One thing she mentioned which makes me feel ashamed was that some boys wanted to join the fight against the British but their parents did not allow them to participate. The parents were concerned about their kids getting into trouble and wanted them to stay safely in the village. I wonder what is the percentage of villagers who felt this way and if we would be still under some British rule, if all parents were wanting to keep their kids away from joining the movement against the British.
The spread of HIV and other STDs in my village is a phenomenon as recent as 20 years. I know there are no available information about the older and present generation's sexual life but there has been some changes in the sexual life of the men folks in the villages. As people are not open about this issue,
What I am writing now is pure guess work and based on what people have gossiped to me! My understanding is that men in the past, had affairs discreetly with women in their or neighbouring villages. There was of course an element of power in this. I know of rich men who had affairs with poor women ( by poor I mean women who were financially weak; widows; wives deserted by their husbands, etc) There were men who had a wife and also a mistress and the mistress was taken care of by giving her food, shelter and clothing. Of course, this lead to huge fights especially if the wife was assertive and the fights were more often than not, physical.
Now, a lot of young men, who are single and even some school kids have paid sex workers and gone to cities like Tumkur for their pleasures. This is probably what has lead to the increase in HIV and other STDs in my taluk. Due to the ignorance & false beliefs, (for example,' If I have sex with a housewife I will not get HIV';' If I have sex with a young girl I will not get any disease', etc)secretiveness and hypocrisy, HIV & STDs will only increase in my Taluk . I am now wondering what my Taluk will look like in the near future. Will there will be a reduction of population because of better family planning, migration to cities, loss of life to AIDS? I do not see people moving into my village...I only see them moving out.
Many are disillusioned with farming and many do not want to practice it but find a job preferably a government job with a steady pay. Many girls are going after higher education and are more sincere about education than the boys as that is one of the few means of escape from their current life in the village. Many women are refusing to marry farmers and demand to get married to men in the city or with a steady job. They do not want the hard life of a farmer’s wife, especially in a dry arid region like Madhugiri (no rains).

I remember when I was visiting(in 2000) Bhuj, a dry desert part of Gujrat, a driver complaining to me that women no longer wanted to marry camel drivers but want to marry lorry/truck drivers as they make more money!

 I also recall a young, newly wed lady crying to a therapist, that she had married a farmer and moved from a town(Doddaballapur) to his village and how tough life was and that she wanted to leave him. She, who was used to the luxury of tap water flowing in her kitchen and bathroom, before marriage, now had to manually draw water from a well and carry it home, on her head...many many times a day.The therapist felt sorry for her but after bringing up many ideas, had no do-able solutions to offer.

Coming back to my village......I do know of some farmers who apparently seem to have done well i.e. they own lots of lands, have tractors and hire labourers. But when you talk to these farmers, you realize that owning a tractor and lots of land in no way makes them rich. It just gives them more headaches. The complaints I heard from one of them was again about the fickle monsoons, the lazy workers, the thefts from his coconut trees and areca nut trees, the death of many of his areca and coconut trees after a prolonged drought (in Sira), the frequent and costly repairs of his tractor, the cost of gas to run his tractor, the failing rates of some agricultural products due to over production in some years ( for example, the cost of labour to harvest the tomatoes and cost of transporting them to the city was not covered by the money he would get for the tomatoes. So he let it rot in the fields and also told people to take them from his fields for free).

The breakdown of the joint families in the village is another major change happening since several decades. Slowly one family after another are breaking into nuclear families. Once again, many movies have dealt with this theme. I know, many movies seem over the top, but when you actually witness and experience the complexities of life in a joint family in my village, the movies do not seem over the top at all!
I for one am for the break of the joint families as I find the cons greater than the pros. There are many changes influencing India i.e. democracy, attempts towards gender equality, access to education for all (and not only a few castes), shift from traditional and family professions to other professions, changes in the value systems and society’s caste based hierarchy, etc. The joint family system has values which are getting outdated and cannot fit in with the current values system. Today, women are asserting their rights as equals, women are working outside and not at home as housewives, adult children make their own decisions and do not wait for parent approval especially about choices they make, etc. The men are getting impatient and no longer want to take the advice or obey the word of their 75 year old, probably dementing father or Doddappa about selling or buying property, digging a well or whatever decision. The youth know that they know more than their parents at least with regard to some issues like education and do not want to take the advice from their illiterate parents about what course to opt for in college. So the complete obedience to the elders in the family, the domination of men over women, the old over the young is slowly going out. But not without the people losing power, putting up a fight!
In villages, it is not just the clash of old vs new values which are causing breakup of joint families. There are so many other ugly factors too. The tyranny of the upper castes, the corruption in the Panchyat system, the partiality of fathers towards some of their sons, the unfairness of property division between sons of two wives of one man, the widows who get neither property or respect from both parents families and the in-laws families, the bitter and long lasting court cases between members of the same family, fights between neighbours (not just house-neighbours but more importantly land neighbours), the quarrels between the wives of brothers living together, the quarrels about division of labour, division of the harvest, the list goes on.

One fascinating, ugly, funny and sad thing I should mention here about my village folks, is the variety of fights about the land which land in courts. My family itself has been involved in many court cases which have dragged on for years and hopefully will be cleared up in a year or so. Remember, some of the court cases started when my father was a toddler and now he is 75. My grandmother went to court suing her in laws for not giving her, her husband’s share of property when he died (he died when my dad was only a baby) and later many other cases were filed by her and also her in laws and now many of the parties have died but the cases are still surviving and going on ! The land, I am sorry to say is not worth the time, effort and money spent on fighting for it (less than an acre, sort of dry land and does not yield even 5000 rupees of profit per harvest). Any advice to my dad to give up the case and the land is met with stubborn refusal as he says that it is the ‘principal’ of the thing and that it is his ancestral land even if it is worthless. He knows that none of us, i.e. his daughters, will ever go to the village and manage the lands but he continues to fight for it at his age of 75!

I would love to write a list of the fascinating number and variety of human follies as reflected in these court cases, but the list is huge and as I already said, they reflect the ugly side of human behaviour. But these court cases make me ponder about the psychology of my people. They seem like nice enough folks when I talk to them, I am grateful for their hospitality when I visit, I enjoy their company, but I cannot understand what drives them to these insane fights which cost more than they can afford.

But please do not think the lawyers have made huge profits of them. The fascinating and lovely thing about rural life is that many folks do not pay the lawyer, underpay the lawyer or pay with rice, ragi, milk, firewood, vegetables or labour but definitely not with a lot of money. Often, lawyers are relatives or friends of the people they are fighting for and ask for no payment.

Coming back to changes in Bangalore, there have been changes in the businesses in Bangalore. Lots of new ones have sprung up and many old ones have disappeared. A few I know when have disappeared or in the process of dying out are the typewriting & shorthand classes. I went for typewriting for 3 months and gave up while my sisters lasted a bit longer. There were quite a bit of boys and girls having crushes on each other but never exchanging a word. At the most a glance or a hello but not beyond that! I wonder if these classes are still going on in the smaller towns?

There were shops housed in a tiny wooden structure which sold items like bananas, cigarettes and beedies and matches, beetle leaves and nuts, a few candies and chocolates. Now I do not see these wooden structures (they were called pettige angadi i.e. shop-made-of-wood) mainly as the land in Bangalore is being taken over by buildings. These shops had a wonderful smell which was a combination of the  all the items they sold. There were the Kaka angadis too, probably run by Keralites or coastal people such as Mangaloreans. These were bigger grocery shops. Now with the coming of food world, and other huge stores, many of these shops are getting wiped out as also the Shetty run grocery shops. I know a person who expresses satisfaction at the ruin of these Shetty businesses as he felt they were rude and obnoxious to the customers and also illtreated the workers in their shops. I however feel sorry as this is a change which is removing the old flavours and charms of Bangalore. These shops continue to run in places like Gandhi Baazar, parts of old Majestic and K.R.Market areas.

But some things will not change with time. One is religion and religious practices, Another is food. The temples, Mosques and Churches seem to be doing the same roaring business, in fact more due to the increase in population. There is a guy at Good shed road for example, who is supposed to be a Tantrik who has powers to help you by removing black magic, etc. Even in this day and age, with so much of scientific knowledge, you continue to see people in a long serpentine queue outside his place!

The old ways of preparing food (in hotels, road-side eateries) and eating continue with some minor changes. The dosas of Vidyarthi Bhavan, meals at MTR, etc continue to taste the same. I know that at Vidyarthi Bhavan, chutney continues to be ground by a person and not a giant mixer or wet grinder! But changes in cost of food, changes in the cutlery (plastic instead of steel), disposable instead of washable cutlery and crockery is occurring. Men who were selling banana leaves for many decades continue to sell them at Chamrajpet for weddings and other functions. So also do the flower sellers for weddings, Poojas, etc.

For some reason I remembered the Cinema when I was writing about flower sellers and floral decorators. I remember now! It is because, the movie hoardings had large flower garlands hanging on them!

I studied in  Maharani's college in Bangalore in the 80s and walked from the Majestic bus-stand to the college through Gandhinagar. I would see  men or boys making huge hoardings of the film stars to be put up outside theatres when movies were released. These men would spread huge canvas on the pavements of Gandhinagar and looking at a photo, would beautifully paint huge (more than 10-20 feet in size) images of the stars. Judging by their clothes, they were paid a pittance but their work was a wonderful, glorious,colourful, eye catching sort of pop-art! Rainbow hues captured the emotions and features of these film stars. Huge posters of Rajkumar, Vishnuvardhan, Ambareesh and a host of other actors and actresses were created by these men. I think these guys and their jobs disappeared with the onset of the new printing technology. Apparently, the world famous modern artist, M.F.Hussein started as one  such poster painter!

Modern times have killed many such professions, though I do agree that many professions which never existed before have come in today. But I do feel bad about the ones who disappeared. A way of life, art forms, a set of beliefs, a life-style has disappeared with these changes.

One good thing about Bangalore/India is that many professions which have disappeared completely in the west, continue to exist even today(in 2011). The sad part is that, these professionals are paid a pittance for their work as their service is not given proper values and recognition.

Why do we pay without bargaining, whatever it costs to buy an Ipod but haggle and bargain with the poor people who are in the service industry? When I hear housewives complaining about paying so much money to their servants, I ask them if they could live on the amount they are paying to their servant (or whoever) , in this day and age

Cobblers on the streets who repair shoes, tailors who repair and stitch made to order clothes, dhobis, embroidery wallahs in commercial street of Bangalore,  gardeners, gold smiths, black smiths, shepherds, cooks who specialize in certain dishes, are a few of the ill-paid millions in India.

 My friend, an artist from a jeweller’s family was telling how traditional goldsmiths have gradually dwindled due to the onset of huge gold shops arriving in Bangalore offering huge discounts for jewels ; they can afford to sell gold jewels cheap as they buy gold from abroad, at low rates in bulk; the traditional goldsmith, on the other hand, can afford to buy only small amounts of gold when he needs and so ends up paying more for the raw gold. The children in these traditional families are not learning the family trade of gold smithing but going in for college education and professional jobs as the demand for their gold work is decreasing. Similarly, many traditional professions in Bangalore are disappearing. Low pay, little or no respect from people and no demand for their products as people’s tastes have changed….For example, girls prefer to wear jeans instead of a embroidered skirt and so demand for embroidery has reduced.

To get a feel of the Bangalore of the 60s and 70s, TODAY, maybe one has to go to the narrow gullies of Avenue road, Chickpet, Akkipet, Mamulpet, parts of Gandhi Bazar, Chamrajpet and Malleshwaram. There may be other parts of Bangalore such as Shivajinagar which have remained untouched to some extent at least, but I have not visited these areas recently. Another part of Bangalore which has not changed much even as recently as 2010 is the Gavipuram area. It is still rustic in it’s charm and existence.

Change in demographics is another major change in Bangalore. Before one would hear Kannada spoken on the streets and some Tamil, Urdu , English, etc depending where you are walking. However, Kannada seems to have disappeared in many parts of Bangalore now. I know this is hurtful to Kannadigas but I think we have to accept that Bangalore has changed demographically, with many outside state people living in Bangalore. Since I barely managed to pass in Kannada (though it is my mother tongue), since I loved reading English books, disliked reading Kannada books, I don’t have any problem with Kannada disappearing! But a part of me grieves that Kannada speaking people, the original natives of Bangalore are unable to hang on to their pieces of property and are selling it to the richer people from other states. Especially in wonderful areas such as Basavanagudi and Jayanagar.
In spite of changes happening all the time, some things do not change.The beauty of India is that as one writer put it, things from several centuries co-exist at the same point in time! For example, you have the modern cars going side by side with the bullock cart, which was probably invented many thousand years ago. The bullock cart, like many ancient inventions still in use in India, has not changed (except for the rubber tyres replacing the huge wooden wheels of the cart making life a bit easier for the bullocks!)
I recall seeing a lime grinding mortar and pestle (bullocks going round and round did the grinding) next to the Kaadu Malleshwara temple, at the bottom of the steps. Lime was used in building construction but is no longer used(I think…I am not sure). I wonder if the architecture and civil engineering students learn about the history of construction in India. In just a few decades, there have been such vast changes in the construction and design of buildings. One simple example I can think of, off hand, is the change from red-oxide floors to mosaic flooring and now to marble floors. Now in 2016, I heard that newly constructed houses now have wooden floors!
Change from teak to any available wood or man-made material for doors due to the disappearance of teak in forests is another transition. The unfortunate use of bathroom tiles in temples, inside the sanctum sanctorum is one unfortunate effect of modernization. The aesthetics in temples seem to be disappearing in today’s new temples or maybe I am more enamoured by the old temple designs and their simplicity.
There are so many changes which happened over time. And in different aspects of life in Bangalore. I have written so much and still have so much to go on! But maybe I will come back to these changes again.

Rock salt was more prevalent than powdered salt in my childhood. Today I seem to see more of powdered salt around in most houses. Groundnut oil was preferred to palmolin oil. I still remember an oil shop in Rajajinagar…the only product sold was cooking oil; The seller would take several minutes to weigh the empty tin we had taken to buy the oil…he would place an assortment of aluminum objects to get the weight of the empty tin before pouring in the oil! I could never believe that an empty tin could weigh the equivalent of all the junk he placed on the scales!

Bangalore, during my childhood was less crowded, had less of cars and more cycles. I remember that on Sundays, the streets were silent except for the random autorickshaw which made a terrible noise, rudely waking people who were enjoying a siesta after the mid-day meal. I also remember that the streets were silent from morning 11 to evening 4 except for the push-cart and cyclist vendors or vendors with baskets on their heads, crying out their wares loudly, to attract the house-wives attention. I have written below all the vendors I can remember. You may have seen more vendors, selling more things but these are all my memories could recall.

I recall a guy pulling a cart on the streets selling salt (he was a tamilian guy in short shorts, probably khaki, with a towel tied round his head; the salt was in a open gunny bag with a measuring ‘se-ru’ in it’. This is a cart usually pulled by bullocks but as the salt is rather heavy, it would have been difficult to push it around on a cycle I think. Or maybe he owned a cart but did not own a cycle….who knows?


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