I had two reason to celebrate that day, I got the brand new camera from Canon, their freshly released EOS 5D Mark III and it was my daughter’s birthday. So our family decided to take a break from our routine and go on a short vacation to Bangalore to chill out. I always felt that Bangalore is cooler city compared to our humid coastal village. During my college days I used to frequent Bangalore quite often and was in love with the city. That nostalgia lingers even today. What I did not realize that I am jumping from frying pan to fire. Bangalore was hotter than my home town and is transformed beyond recognition in last 20 odd years. We had planned to visit Wonderla Amusement Water park on the first day and second day was meant for shopping in Bangalore city. After we finished playing in the Amusement park we returned back to our hotel in M.G.Road. Traffic was unbearable, there was a long traffic jam near the Outer ring Road to Mysore Road. When I asked the driver of the cab he said it is daily affair as the work on the Metro & connectivity via the outer ring road to the city was always under construction. Sun was setting, there was dust all around and what caught my eye was the Sunbeam shining through the dust. The above picture shows this ray of hope amidst chaos and traffic of Bengaluru city. After getting stuck there for around an hour there I was back to hotel to rest.
We stayed in a small budget hotel on M.G road behind the Oriental Building (LIC building) called Sri Lakshmi Comforts. This circle used to be called Oriental circle now renamed as Anil Kumble circle. This is the best budget hotel you can find in Bangalore, service is impeccable, rooms are clean and price is unmatched. The location is so close to all your shopping needs. The breakfast & lunch served in their adjoining restaurant is also serves very good food. No wonder it won this years Tripadviser award for the best bargain hotel. The entrance to the hotel is hidden and rooms are so quiet that you don’t feel that you are staying in a congested main artery of Bangalore.
Adjacent to to my hotel is another landmark building from the bygone era of erstwhile Bangalore – old Empire theater. Even though it has a name Kapoor Building embossed in the front of this dilapidated building, it was once a famous cinema theater. Now Paresh Lamba fashions and Arya Bhavan Sweets occupy the frontage of this building. The pictures you see around here are from that building and surrounding area. If you notice carefully you can see – Rs. 1:25, Seat:92 painted on the closed door of the defunct theater denoting the antiquity of the building.
In fact MG Road & Brigade’s Road has changed beyond recognition. Metro station has appeared like a phoenix from the ashes and has taken over the whole of MG Road. All the fond memories I had of the good old Bangalore seems to be razed to dust. One of my favorite haunts, Gangaram’s book shop closed permanently on the day I was, after 40 years in service. I have seen the some of my favorite restaurants like Nanking, The Only Place transforming into malls. Theaters like Rex & Plaza disappearing in thin air. G.K Vale & Lake view have moved with the tide to a newer locality.
Brigade Road has very few oldies left now, like Cauvery Arts & Crafts Emporium, the Post Office which still bears the British Government Coat of Arms (1914), Spinker & Co. (now used to sell discounted shoes), the oldest building spotted on Brigades is a small shop just opposite where the old Shoolay Police Station (now demolished) used to be called New King (1901). M.G. Road and Brigade’s had Basco’s for Ham (Omeer Building), Nilgiris for pastries, Crown Cafe for puffs (it was an exclusive meeting place for courting couples!), Bangalore Ham Shop (Andrews Building) for sausages, Lakeview for Icecreams, EGK or GK Vales, Albert Raj for photos, India Coffee House for real coffee, pubs were not heard of, but Bars were. There was Fatima’s (Fat’s) or Tom’s Cafe (Toms) or Crystal Restaurant.
The Kamandheru Restuarant on MG’s has now become a “Prestige Maidan” place, gone is the family atmosphere it once had. Church Street does have one or two old houses, as well as St. Mark’s Road with it’s India Garage , The spooky looking Bajaj godown ( formerly the Bangalore Post building, perhaps The Bangalore Spectator, before that) on Museum Road, Nanking Restaurant on Grant Road is gone! On St. Mark’s Road one can still find the stone Trac & Book House, Bible Society Buildings, Koshy’s, the Jewel Box, and the British Library. Lots of old houses on this road, all are being knocked down like nine pins.
One of the places that one can remember was Gaylord’s a restaurant that had some live music and floor shows, and The Only Place, was a set of cottages and a homely restaurant that made very juicy steaks, in the compound behind. All what I cherished during my frequent visits college days seems to be demolished. In its place we have monstrosity of ‘Namma Metro’. Whether these changes are part of of evolution of Bangalore or deterioration of it I can’t say, only time will prove.
You may be wondering whether these photos were taken using my new Canon EOS 5D mark III. No they were not. I wanted to try out statement made by David duChemin which I quoted on my My Gears page – Remember, gear is good, but vision is better. So for this trip I left all my gear behind at home. It was a very refreshing experience. It opened up new possibilities to explore subject without the need for a specific gear. All the photos here are taken using my phone Samsung Galaxy Note GT-N7000. It also made me come out of my gear fetish-ism and free to explore the world. Here is an advice for thousands of my friend’s on all photography forums who crib that they could not create that great masterpiece they wanted, because they could not get that specific lens which is supposed to create such picture. Stop worrying about tool, think of your craft. As for 5D mark III is concerned, you have to wait till next week when I am reviewing this great camera.