P.M. VIJENDRA RAO writes: I am from a Bangalore which was Mysore-ish. I grew up in Shankarapuram. Ranga Rao Road was where we lived. To this day I don't know who this illustrious man was–so much for my inquisitiveness. Nor did anybody tell me about him–perhaps out of the same disdain for history for which we Indians have quite a name.
This smudging of history from memory was aptly reflected in the way the name of Ranga Rao, etched in Kannada on an unpolished slab of granite, was vandalised every time the civic staff painted the cornerstone afresh.
All that it needed was to disfigure the letter ga into ra, coronate the un (0) to make it also ra and dot the navel of all five ra's—three original, two malformed.
The new name would thus be ta ta ta taav tasthe.
Poor Ranga Rao forever remained unimmunized to this syndrome of his name being literally blackened right in the middle of those rotund consonants.
However, these are not the only black spots on the former beauty queen called Bangalore.
This former Miss Karnataka became greedy. She wanted to become Miss World. She went into overdrive, got silicon(e) breast implant done and started attracting global attention.
Money poured into Kempe Gowda town like the Vrishabhavati in spate. On the other hand, average Bangaloreans needed no bust augmentation, their chest swelled with pride. Not for long, as they developed congestion in the lungs.
Congestion that was fuelled by the automobiles that the newfound wealth brought in. This is the story of Bangalore in a nutshell–the shell of the peanut for which my part of Bangalore was known.
Gowda's Bangaloreans called it Kallekayi Parishe.
Murthy, the man who pioneered, by default, the automobile revolution in Bangalore, was primarily responsible for the Big Bull (that gives the name Basavanagudi to the famous locality I grew up in) to be obscured on the map of the city.
When realty enters the bullish phase (and remains there), Big Bull can only be worth the cheaper granite it is carved out of. A Gowda-Murthy spat, in which the Bangaloreans lost, and lost the memory of Kempe Gowda as well.
To tell you, I am a rat. I don't say I foresaw Bangalore's doom and escaped from there, but the year of India's liberalization also liberated me from Bangalore.
During a chance visit to Mysore, my father's hometown, a couple of weeks earlier, I happened to watch the Lalitha Mahal Palace awash with moonlight. I hadn't seen the palace before. Not even in daylight. I didn't know that a locality called Siddartha Layout (where I stayed in a friend's place for a day) was there in Mysore. I began to wish I had a job in Mysore.
I was literally and metaphorically moonstruck.
I soon landed a new job and opted to come to Mysore. Had I continued in Bangalore, I would have gone the Bangalore way–completely crazy.
But, Murthy's shadow is looming large on Mysore. I don't know why he won't let me live in peace.
Ranga Rao Road, it occurs to me as I travel back in time, has an oddity. Karnataka Sarvodaya Sangha, from where I got much of my khadi for the fanciful shirts I wore to college, had Keshava Kripa, the Bangalore head office of RSS, for neighbour.
The spirit of Gandhi and his nemesis exist together in harmony.
So, you may ask why not Murthy and I share Mysore peacefully. If I could do that, I might as well return to Bangalore. Perhaps not.
Mahishasurana Ooru itself is threatening to go the way of the monster. Orders for silicon(e) implants have been placed. Mysore is becoming Bangalore-ish.
Would it make any sense then to talk of Bangalore and Mysore as two distinct entities?
The existential dilemma—iruvudo, biduvudo, e-oorinali—continues.
Time to look for a job in Mandya?