HEAT AND DUST IN BANGALORE AND DELHI

During my childhood and youth in Bangalore many decades ago, we never had a fan or a refrigerator at home. We still don’t have an air-conditioner, although it gets unbearably hot in parts of the west-facing house in the afternoons.

Decades ago, it almost never felt too warm except possibly while bicycling on, or walking beside, asphalted roads at certain hours of the day, mainly mid-afternoons.

Distant memory now.

On a brief visit to New Delhi – a city where I lived for 11 years until 1988 and which my mind associates with crippling summers – on work last week, I was lodged in a room in an area endowed with much tree cover and adjacent to a sprawling garden with ponds and abundant arboreal growth. There was an air conditioner in the room but on entering, it was clear that AC use was uncalled for. I did mechanically switch on the ceiling fan. Duh! A little past midnight, I had to switch it off. Second week of April, mind!

Before leaving for Delhi, I’d checked the temperatures online. On that particular day it showed: Bangalore 38C, New Delhi 34C: obviously, the mean temperature. In New Delhi’s wooded areas, it’s generously cool, especially from dusk to a couple of hours post-dawn.

Decades ago in New Delhi, while taking the bus from/to work at night (I was a wire service hack), I invariably noticed that during the summer months temperatures dropped considerably while traversing through the area where ministers, senior officials and judges lived in sprawling bungalows inside large compounds featuring much greenery and along wide, tree-lined avenues.

With reservations regarding the incredibly enormous privileges enjoyed by the said worthies, I’d have to concede that in terms of the presence of greenery and absence of human marauding at least, it’s perhaps good there’s been no change over the decades to that part of Delhi.

Meanwhile, those controlling the fates of Bangalore and its denizens have been systematically chopping tens of thousands – perhaps hundreds of thousands – of trees and filling up dozens of lakes as if there’s no tomorrow. The said authorities work in air-conditioned offices, travel by air-conditioned cars, live in air-conditioned homes and hobnob with their kind in clubs, hotels and other facilities that are, needless to say, air-…

As for dust, during the late 1970s to late 1980s in New Delhi, I’d noticed that dust, soot and vehicular exhaust tended to saturate one’s skin and the collars of one’s shirts during the winter months when, following the laws of physics, suspended particles – what a harmless sounding term for noxious stuff – tended less inclined to rise into the upper atmosphere. In Bangalore now, whatever season, whatever the hour of the day or night, almost wherever thou liveth, dust and vehicular soot shall stick to thee.

Apart from the obviously uber-, ultra-corrupt cabal or mafia that rules over Bangalore, there is a fast proliferating, despicable species – the Bangalore Car Owner – about which over-affluent, sub-human creature that seems to have evolved in under two decades into a major, virulent menace causing massive pollution in terms of noise, light, heat, dust and soot, I have much to say and shall, in a future blog. 

***

This was my second visit to New Delhi in three months and the third in under a year. Having observed Independent Canine Personages in various parts of that city now – and stopped to offer a few of them some of the biscuits I usually carry for just such communions with members of that delightful species – I arrive at the tentative conclusion that those cute doggies are in general noticeably healthier looking than their counterparts in Bangalore.

I’m friends with a large number of ICPs (please avoid the word “stray” while referring to dogs!) around the area where I live and those I visit regularly elsewhere in Bangalore and have tried and am still trying to see what can be done as regards the ones who display obvious signs of skin disease but the numbers of dogs in various states of ill-health seem to be huge.

Perhaps this testifies to the superior attention to the well-being of non-human animals in Delhi compared to Bangalore, where even human welfare is criminally neglected.

***

Delhiites, I notice, refer to a T-junction as a “T-point”.

Ask for directions and people say, “go straight and at the T-point take a left/right… etc”.

Bangaloreans are more likely to call upon the powers in their lungs and the muscles in their tongues to say, “left/right at the DDDEADDDENDDD!” (Never mind that a dead-end is what the French call a cul-de-sac, where there’s no turning except back.)

Given that we Kannadigas, like our fellow South Indian Telugu-speakers – and Italians and a few others – end almost all words with vowels and carry that practice into the pronunciation of English words, more often than not it sounds like “dddeadddendddU!”

I have to concede: Delhiites 30 – Bangaloreans 0.

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About walkerjay

The author, N. Jayaram, a journalist now based in Bangalore after more than 23 years in East Asia (mainly Hong Kong and Beijing) and 11 years in New Delhi, was with the Press Trust of India news agency for 15 years and Agence France-Presse for 11 years and is currently engaged in editing and translating for NGOs and academic institutions.
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