Choice

Minu looked at her watch again. He was late. Or, she was early. As she was to every date or appointment. She couldn’t help it. The clock inside her set up a clanging gong as the appointed time arrived. It was better to arrive early and let sleeping clocks lie.

But what did it matter?

She was at the coffee shop in front of Barton Centre, on MG Road. The open space with cushioned wicker chairs under red umbrellas. The perfect Bangalore morning, slightly cloudy with a cool breeze. A whispered hint of rain later. Maybe. The trees opposite on the large army ground fluttered their leaves at her, flirting from a distance. She smiled back at them. She sipped her cappuccino, closed her eyes and took a deep breath of the dewy, cool, hint-of-rain air. What did it matter? She would always have Bangalore.

There was a rumour that the metro would slice through MG Road. She couldn’t believe it. Who could think of mutilating this place? Impossible.

He came rushing in and looked around wildly. He knew he was late. That was a good sign. She stood up and waved. He came over. His walk said confident, his face said shy. He sat down and the process began. It wasn’t her first time. She knew the drill. They asked each other the standard questions – work, family, hobbies, what-do-you-do-on-weekends. They assessed each other across the table. She assessed his confidence, his kindness, his grammar (she tried not to, but it was a built-in feature she couldn’t disable). She sensed him doing the same, ticking off against his own list.

In this short time, they had to figure out whether to say yes-go ahead to two sets of parents, who had arranged this meeting and were – probably, even at this minute – waiting apprehensively next to their phones. She listened hard for that quiet click that had happened for so many of her friends.

When they had run out of assessment questions and polite smiles, it was time to go. She smiled as he started to walk away. Hmmm, not bad, she thought.
Maybe she just didn’t hear the click?
But then he turned around and asked, ‘Umm, what was your name again?’
Thud.

She ordered a chocolate doughnut, tucked her feet under her and took out her novel. Before opening the book, she looked across at the canopy of trees and took another deep breath of the clean, crisp air. What did it matter? She would always have Bangalore.

Wouldn’t she?


*

Author Bio:
Rosemary Thomas transitioned out of corporate life and now works with a Healthcare NGO, trying to stem the bleeding of her bleeding heart. There may be a book inside her and she’s trying to find out.

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Synonyms For Green

My ringing phone is perched precariously on top of the files for today. Steadying it with my sweaty chin I leave court. Sweating. In bloody Bangalore. And not a single drop of rain. I dump my files in the association and finally manage to make it out, but my phone has died. Should I head back in to charge? The thought of staking out a plug point isn’t appealing. Talking to sambar breath while I do it? Cannot.

Having decided that, I stand in the courtyard, wondering how the hell I am to entertain myself without my phone. Too hot for food, I head towards the sugarcane juice.

Is it too good to be true? That I can step out of court and find myself here, in this surreal forest?

Leaves gently rustle above me in slow motion. The scorching sun, filtering through, somehow cool and calming. I take a deep breath. I don’t swear at the bike that honks at me. I’m on an island. A sea of nonsense is all around me. But me, I am on the island.

How many words for green do I know? Verdant? So many shades of that. Some, full of new leaves, all lush and tender, not yet unfurled. Some large, darker, swishing. Emerald? For the underwater feel under the denser trees. Different areas of light and shade, like lost pieces of a strange jigsaw puzzle are all over the park. And the Christmas tree. Like an awkward teenager with a bad haircut. Its head sticking out over the others. Giving no shade or comfort. Just comic relief.

Green, contrasted with the clear blue sky and the still stark white clouds. This summer has been abnormal. The asphalt quivers. The white freshly painted divider, hovers like a ghost. The upper reaches of the branches, taking one last giant step to the other side. The blooms, almost malignant. Growing, unstoppably. Monstera leaves, larger than ever. Clinging to the dusty trunks, serpentine. Plotting. Mean and beautiful trees. I can imagine that.

I always take the same path back. Strewn with yellow copper pods. Delicate needles of pink from the raintrees. The sky is dotted with purple. The flowers, plain individually, striking on a bare branch. Painted on.

Stuck in a seasonal loop. Flowering, showering and shedding. I am too, I suppose.

The earth is dry and when a strong breeze blows, colourful pieces of plastic float with the flowers.

Author Bio: Maitreyi Bhat is an advocate practicing in Bangalore.

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Urban projects that have been depleting Bengaluru’s green cover, have taken their toll, and the proposed elevated corridor is the worst of the lot. It would remove Cubbon Park from the map, along with 3,700 trees.

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Give Me My City Back!

As 98B took a right,
Into the cave of New BEL Road.
Trees on either side,
Extended a cool welcome back home.
Tree-caves we used to call them,
In a jungle called Bangalore.

Indiranagar or Ashoka Pillar,
The caverns looked the same.
Green heads on brown trunks,
What a guard of honour they waved.
Mighty chill we used to say,
In a haven called Bangalore.

Lurking in a shawl on a hot summer noon,
“It’s cold indoors! Has winter begun?”
So I climbed for some warmth on the roof,
But then, a breeze made me shiver in the sun!
Garden city we used to proclaim,
Was a city called Bengaluru.

Author Bio: Subhashri C V from Bangalore is a linguist by choice. After a decade spent juggling others’ words in multiple languages as a translator, she is now trying to breathe life into her own writing for there are stories inside her waiting to see the light of day.

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Urban projects that have been depleting Bengaluru’s green cover, have taken their toll, and the proposed elevated corridor is the worst of the lot. It would remove Cubbon Park from the map, along with 3,700 trees.

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I’ll Be The Human And You Be The Tree

A tree and a woman get talking in a forest. After a few minutes the tree says, “Let’s play a game.”

“OK,” the woman says.

“I’ll be the human and you be the tree.”

“But why,” the woman asks.

“It’s just a game,” the tree says. “For fun.”

“OK,” the woman smiles.

As soon as she gives her assent the tree turns anthropomorphic, with arms, legs, and a bold, ambitious look on its ‘face.’

“Ah,” it says, wrapping its ‘arms’ around the woman in an uncomfortably intimate embrace. “You are so lovely.”

“Not so tight, it hurts,” the woman says uneasily.

“They’ll say I want to eat you, colonize you,” the tree says. “Hogwash. I have such great plans for us both. I want to make you part of my concept village in the woods. We can achieve something so beautiful together – ”

And saying so, the tree insinuates little cold tendrils around the woman’s face and starts to grip her waist in a sharp pincer grip. The pain is acute. The woman feels as though her spine is going to be penetrated, and broken.

“Get away!” she shouts, shoving the tree violently aside and falling down in the process. Then she picks herself up and runs away from the tree. She runs as fast as her legs will carry her.

The tree grunts, then discards its anthropomorphism and breathes heavily, its deep, immovable roots pulsing underground.

“At least you can run! What about us?” it calls after the departing figure of the woman but the words pass unheard through the air, like dead flowers falling to the ground or like bats flying past your window at night.

23519099_2020975268138502_8443489623879037716_n
Illustration by Arthur Rackham for a rare 1917 edition of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales.

Author Bio: Philip John is a creative director with a start up advertising agency. He is also a freelance writer and creative consultant. You can read more of his work at Labyrinths.

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Urban projects that have been depleting Bengaluru’s green cover, have taken their toll, and the proposed elevated corridor is the worst of the lot. It would remove Cubbon Park from the map, along with 3,700 trees.

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I Remember This City

I remember this city, when I first visited it as a wide-eyed child. I remember the gardens, I remember the flowers, I remember the Vidhana Soudha, I remember the bull temple. I remember the saree my mother purchased from Deepam sarees. And I remember the refreshments the shop owners happily served my family of four. What I simply cannot remember is how I made my way through all of this.

I remember this city, when as a new teen, I visited it the second time, for my cousin’s wedding. Koramangala, they called the place where she was getting married. A largely vacant quaint place it felt, much like the rest of the city. I remember the gorgeous decorations in her wedding hall. I remember the fantastic amount of fresh roses they used to deck up the stage with. I remember my brother-in-law’s charming friend, who made everyone in the wedding hall fall in love with him. I remember the gorgeous, Udupi style food we ate for the duration of the wedding ceremonies. What I simply cannot remember is how I made my way through all of this.

I remember this city, when as a fresh graduate, I visited it for the third and fourth times, to find a job. I remember a couple of entrance tests. I remember staying in my friend’s pad and experiencing the first taste of an independent existence. I remember being a little overwhelmed with having to travel all alone in a new city. I remember eating chow chow for the first time. I remember getting lost somewhere in J.P. Nagar, trying to find the address of my friend’s cousin. What I simply cannot remember is how I made my way through all of this.

I remember this city, when I visited it for the fifth time, to meet up with friends. I remember the joyousness. I remember the vibrancy. I remember the city’s quaint-coupled-with-cosmopolitan vibe. I remember the open spaces. I remember the lovely weather. I remember the generous sprinkling of green. I remember wanting to come back again. I remember thinking, this would be a good place to live, and work, and travel. I remember thinking, I will come back. What I simply cannot remember is how I made my way through all of this.

I remember the dread now. I remember the terror. I remember the fear. I remember missed flights and late meetings and unending journeys. I remember thinking I would die and end up a ghost inside the vehicle I am in, never being able to make through it. I remember crying a little every time I see a chopped tree making way for an extra ‘lane’ on a two-lane highway. I remember the savageness of my bad moods displayed to family. I remember, the standard conversation starter at work. “Traffic was so bad today”. I remember the heat, the stunning repression of it. I remember the glass covered buildings, mushrooming on every piece of open space there might be. I remember the thinning covers of jacaranda. I remember wondering if this is Bangalore’s way of telling me that I should have left it alone, others like me should have left it alone. I remember feeling terrified that the city of my first visit is forever gone. I remember every day, how I make my way through all of this. I remember feeling that Bangalore probably hates me as much as I hate what has become of it.

Author Bio: Prashila Naik is a writer, technologist from Goa, based out of Bangalore.

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Urban projects that have been depleting Bengaluru’s green cover, have taken their toll, and the proposed elevated corridor is the worst of the lot. It would remove Cubbon Park from the map, along with 3,700 trees.

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ಬೇಡ ನಮಗೆ ಕಾರಿಡಾರು

ದುಡ್ಡು ಕೊಟ್ಟರೂ ಸಿಗುತ್ತಿಲ್ಲ ವಾಟರ್ ಟ್ಯಾಂಕರು
ಬೇಡ ನಮಗೆ ಕಾರಿಡಾರು
ಇರಲಿ ಬಿಡಿ ಗಿಡ ಮರ ಹಸಿರು
ಬೇಡ ನಮಗೆ ಕಾರಿಡಾರು.

ಹರಿಯದಿದ್ದರೇನು ಗಿಡದ ನೆತ್ತರು
ಸುರಿಯುವದಿಲ್ಲವೇ ಕಣ್ಣೀರು
ಹೆಚ್ಚು ಮಾಡಿ ಬಸ್ಸು ರೈಲು
ಇದು ನಮ್ಮೆಲ್ಲರ ಒಕ್ಕೊರಲು.

ಇದು ನಮ್ಮ ಬೆಂಗಳೂರು
ಮಾಡದಿರಿ ಮತ್ತೆ ಬೆಂದಕಾಳೂರು

We don’t want the corridor

Even money is not getting us water tankers
We don’t want the corridor
Let’s leave the plants and trees green
We don’t want the corridor.

If the plant’s blood flows
Won’t the tears flow too
Increase the buses and the rails
That’s our unified voice.

This is our Bengaluru
Don’t make this the land of baked beans.

Author Bio: Suresh Banakar is a part-time reader, reluctant office-goer and is trying to be a writer.

Translation by: Bhumika Anand is the Founder and Director of Bangalore Writers Workshop. She says, “All the errors in the translation are by the translator.”

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Urban projects that have been depleting Bengaluru’s green cover, have taken their toll, and the proposed elevated corridor is the worst of the lot. It would remove Cubbon Park from the map, along with 3,700 trees.

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From a Bangalore Treetop

I have been here for ages now
Back then, I was a sapling and small
I have lived and grown with my friends in tow
But now I am lonely, though towering and tall.

From where I stood, I would happily see
Flowers and leaves and my family green
It was laughter and joy, and life spent in glee
All over the place, we really brought a sheen.

Things have changed for me and how
Cars and bridges and buildings galore
Its smoky and scary when I look around
People rushing in a frenzy and furore.

Most of my friends have been razed to the ground
For malls, flyovers and broader roads
Their roots are felled with no traces around
Is it okay for us to bleed, I’d like to prod.

Its only with a heavy heart that I can behold,
My younger tribe, so few, so stifled and not so bold
The future is them, O wiser men, do not be fooled
Please bear the torch to make a greener World unfold.

Author Bio: Bindu P is a Management Graduate by qualification. After her stint at a Corporate Career, she is now working with children in the low-income communities through an NGO in South Bangalore. Other than being with children, reading, writing and music, brighten up her small world.

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Urban projects that have been depleting Bengaluru’s green cover, have taken their toll, and the proposed elevated corridor is the worst of the lot. It would remove Cubbon Park from the map, along with 3,700 trees.

Sign the petition here.

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