Friday, December 25, 2009

DARSHINIS, LAUGH CLUBS KEEP SPIRITS UP

DARSHINIS, LAUGH CLUBS KEEP SPIRITS UP
This pensioners’ paradise may be slowly changing character, but the senior citizens here have made it home and it will remain so. Change has thrown up a new question: the security of this vulnerable section of society
A T Subrahmanya & Sruthy Susan Ullas | TNN

Bangalore: Most of the areas in Bangalore South, be it Jayanagar, Basavanagudi, Banashankari or Padmanabhanagar, were — and are — predominantly residential. But the landscape has been changing fast in the past several years.
What was once completely residential has now turned into a self-sufficient zone with several glitzy malls, multiplexes, high-end restaurants along with good old Jayanagar Shopping Complex, which is still frequented by old citizens of the area.
HANG OUTS BY THE DOZEN
If you ever thought that hang-outs in Bangalore South are only for the trendy and Gen Next, wait till you get to Jayanagar BDA Complex. This is the place where grannies and granddads ‘freak out’! Sitting on stone benches under shady trees, you can see around 30 people talking, laughing loudly and sometimes even arguing furiously, from 10 o’clock in the morning. If it is a Sunday, the number crosses 100.
This is the time they relive their golden days and enjoy every moment of their content retired lives. There are regular groups who come in every day after they are done with their morning walk and tiffin. They have a specific place to sit, which generally no one else occupies. And their topics vary from Yeddyurappa’s governance to Dhoni’s batting style and Sandalwood gossip. Each newspaper is analysed carefully and issues discussed. Once in a while, a coffee at Pavithra, a darshini next door, is a must.
“I have been coming here for the past 20 years. One day I miss it, I feel uncomfortable. I can skip a meal but not these chats,’’ said M Nagaraj, 78. There are people who walk three to four kilometres to spend time at this place, mostly to meet buddies they have made through these regular meetings.
LAUGHTER CLUBS
Get up early in the morning and take a stroll. In the parks, you will come across groups of people, dominated by seniors, laughing their hearts out as they exercise. This is the laughter club.
While most old people don’t get out of their homes during winter due to fear of arthritis, this group is out on the road as early as 6 am. For them, this is the best method to stay fit, make friends and pass some time.
There are around 40 laughter clubs in South Bangalore alone. Each has around 30-50 members. One of the first few laughter clubs in the city kicked off from this zone. “There was a time when laughter clubs were the USP of South Bangalore. It was from here that it spread to other places,’’ said a member of the laughter club in Jayanagar.
DARSHINIS AT EVERY STEP
One would never go hungry in this part of Bangalore: getting cheap, good quality and quick food at any time of the day is no big deal here, all thanks to the around 800 darshinis here.
This is where the concept of the darshini — South Indian fast food eaten in a hurry — took birth, and spread all over the city. Each darshini attracts around 400 people a day. “People in South Bangalore have the habit of having breakfast early. Moreover, there are plenty of parks, especially big ones, here. People go for early morning walks and top it off with a coffee. It is these habits that helped darshinis thrive in this area,” said Vasudev Adiga, president, Bruhat Bangalore Hotels’ Association.
Upahara, Shanti Sagar, Brahmin’s Cafe, SLV, Adiga’s — the list goes on. Some of them have been here for 50 years or so. Despite the consistent price rise in commodities, darshinis are one set of institutions which have not increased their prices drastically. “They are paying the price for it. Many of them are running on loss and are on the verge of shutting down,’’ said Adiga.
SAFETY NET
For over 50 years, Bangalore South was a calm, secure and comfortable area, as compared to other areas. With the crime graph rising over the years around Bangalore South, things look set to change in future.
Two multiple murders — one of the Venkatarangans, which is yet to be solved, and another triple murder of three women in Tilakanagar early in the year, had sent a chill down the spine of residents. Finally, city commissioner Shankar Bidari had to meet local residents to calm down the situation.
The gruesome murder of a rowdy, who was on a morning jog at Lalbagh, had put the police on their toes, after which one of the accused was even shot dead in an encounter. Though this had a calming effect on the criminals, the activities are on the rise again, admit even police officers.
Due to demographics and prominent residential localities, Bangalore South also attracts several criminals, keeping the cops busy. Starting from a high number of chain-snatching incidents to burglaries and even ganglords getting active, notorious elements are constantly on their radar.
Police say that Bangalore South, because of the high number of middle-class localities around, is a lure for start-up criminals who begin with chain-snatching, and move on to more serious offences. Later, the same criminals join gangs and move up in the crime world.

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