The sky is almost invisible.
This city is endless. Travelling through this cosmopolitan, all one sees are buildings; a monotonous, unbroken line of them stretching in every cardinal direction known to man.
Uneven roads; disrupted pavements; permanently under-repair footpaths; clogged drains; garbage; open drains; excrement; dust; smog; oppressive, suffocative emissions; disapparating trees; apparating buildings; and an incessant influx of traffic- both of vehicles, and humans.
Crowded; Clustered; Congregated; Congested; Claustrophobic.
There is no epiphany at the end of the road; just more buildings and the seemingly endless traffic.
In this mad rush to become a fancy metropolitan city, according to whose definition is unclear, we have lost the beauty Bangalore was once famously known for.
When I was a child, Bangalore was more of a small town. Lush green trees everywhere; big, beautiful lakes; misty, cold mornings and evenings; fresh air carrying a sweet fragrance of budding and blooming flowers; a beautiful, forever lit sky; an occasional vehicle or two; houses with tiny gardens; children gallivanting on the streets having a gala time while more than occasionally breaking the glass planes of their neighbours’ houses. A decade later, this hometown of mine has changed beyond recognition.
It’s suffocating; the cacophony outside my window, maddening.
This city has been overtaken by a burning desire for more; a self consuming infatuation with an Indianised version of the American Dream. In an exhausting race to achieve fuller, richer and better lives for themselves and their families, people have embarked on destructive journeys.
Everyone is in a frenzy to achieve milestones- from little children whose guides and mentors force them to grasp pencils and colour complex diagrams before they have reached the stage in development which allows them to accomplish the task, to teenagers who give up creativity and the ability to think individually in order to memorise textbooks and reproduce the exactly same matter for they are expected to score above a ninety-five percent.
Children have forgotten to be children. None of my neighbours have to deal with broken glass planes anymore.
Adults want to, more than anything else, make more money for money is associated with luxury, a good life and societal status. The more money they have, the better. They choose professions which assures them a good income; not professions where their passions lie. They dream of their retirement homes- far away from the city, the very same city that they have helped create, with lots of money so they live in contentment and comfort. And so they work. They work through holidays, and birthdays, and free time, and family meal times. They work and work and work so that they may live, and live well when they are old.
They do not live in the moment. They trudge, instead, to live in a future which holds only disquiet unpredictability.
If I may ask, how do any of us know that we will live to see the next minute? We do not know. We just take it for granted. We lose out on this moment; a certain moment, for the next one; an uncertain one.
The city is dying. So are we.
This beautiful Garden City, as it was once known, has lost its gardens; has lost its individuality to a certain “development” (one that I certainly fail to see). The residents of the same have lost their individuality to a hankering and glorified money madness. The buildings have robbed the city of its scenic beauty; a “climb up the corporate ladder” has robbed us of our ability to be inspired by the little things- the ability to see beauty in truth and in everything around us.
When was the last time you sat down near your window, fresh air blowing, and with a view of, perhaps, a tree standing tall in all its grandiose and lofty supreme; with a mug of fragrant tea and a good book?
The last time I inhaled and exhaled fresh air was when I was vacationing in Coorg, amidst thick forest and plantation lands; it was hard to say which was which.
My city has withered away. I am desperately trying to survive the despotic and dismal conditions I am now faced with.
Breathing in this thick, polluted air is inexorable; wearisome.
Bill Watterson once said: “If people sat outside and looked at the stars each night, I’ll bet they’d live a lot differently. Well, when you look into infinity, you realize that there are more important things than what people do all day.”
When I read that particular comic strip, I laughed a melancholy and foreboding laugh. All I could say to myself was, “What stars?”
The smog has engulfed everything. The incalculable, multitudinous stars are no longer strikingly marked.
The sky is almost invisible.