Monday, July 26, 2010

Preserve homes and lanes filled with memories of many generations

Preserve homes and lanes filled with memories of many generations

Shilpa CB Bangalore

The average Malleswaram resident nurtures a deep connection with the street he or she lives in. But now a road-redraw plan threatens to deface this much-loved neighbourhood for no good reason, they say. It will only severe the umbilical chords between them and the streets preserved for no one knows how long.
Talking about roads in Malleswaram invariably leads to an emotion-laden discussion about losses and who stands to gain from it all.
"My father built this house. This is where my parents lived. I am attached to this property. Someone, who's just been elected, can't come and destroy it," says an anguished Lalitha Holla, resident of Malleswaram who shares a building with two other families.
Holla can't consider giving up the house she grew up in even though it is old and needs some work. "We continue to live here because we love this place. We love Malleswaram. We want to live here and nowhere else. Can these people, who are threatening to take away our house, give us land in Malleswaram," she asks.
Her brother Suryanarayan Karanth chips in when the discussion focuses on the sentimental value of the house. "We're attached to every brick of this house. We don't want to let it go," he says.
"It's ajji mane for all cousins who gather here during holidays. There are many memories associated with our house," says Madhura S about the house she spent her childhood in.
Nobody in Malleswaram wants an alternative plot, much less the piece of paper called TDR. One such resident is 92-year-old Annapurnamma V, who has spent 70 years here and doesn't want to be displaced. "We're accustomed to Malleswaram. Don't break our houses," she says.
Many senior citizens live in Malleswaram. Some have children who live abroad. They all want to spend the rest of their years in peace.
People quarrel about the type of development civic agencies and government do that invariably kill the beautiful, age-old trees. "It's a tragedy," says Ramesh S, a teacher who can't stomach the development that destroys environment.
Sentiment is not merely attached to homes. It is perceivable about every establishment, streets, shops, trees, even landmarks.
"As a kid, my favourite pastime was watching parakeets fly past from one giant tree to another lining up the streets. A walk there would instantly refresh you. But now you would be more stressed if you attempted to walk on these roads," says another resident of Malleswaram who runs a gas agency.
For him, the loss of grand trees is hard to get over. "Why don't they replace the trees they've removed? Now, they're just plants. Some are flowering shrubs. Where are the mango trees, tamarind trees, jackfruit trees, banyan trees and the many indigenous varieties we have grown up under," he asks. The future generations will never know the joys of watching birds or trees, he says.
It's not a misplaced sentimentality without reasoning. Residents are not opposed to improving city roads. They are only against the approach it is planned. "There should be proper planning to manage traffic, not mindless destruction," Holla says.

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